The Internet as Thinktank – How Can We Make a Factor Four Improvement in Our Environmental Impact?
|By Steve Balogh in Climate Change, Conservation, Green Building, Green Living, Organic, Tech Innovations | June 29, 2006|
How can we make real change in our (meaning all or at least most the people on earth) environmental impact? Vinay Gupta at Worldchanging put up an interesting article this past weekend, that broaches the subject that I have just begun to contemplate lately. How do we get beyond personal lifestyle changes, which may be no small sacrifice to my family – but perhaps trivial on a grand scale. I am a firm believer in the saying “be the change you want to see in the world.” But, it that fast enough? Will I rub off on enough people to truly help save the planet? Its doubtful – I’m really not that influential. Sure, I am able to step up on my soapbox and brandish my megaphone at groovygreen, an ability that I relish, but how can we use the internet to affect real change in the American populace? Click more, to get involved in the solution:
The problem is that individual action seems too weak: ok, I could buy more CF bulbs and be a little greener, even if I like incandescent light a bit more… but so what? Sure, I could walk more and drive less… but so what… Sure I could… individually, I feel like my actual impact is negligible. And it is.
Symbolic, token green action is personally satisfying, and may indeed be building necessary momentum and infrastructure for transforming our society, but it has little overall effect. Everybody expects somebody else to Do Something and, in truth, many of the worst problems are systemic and deeply entrenched. How energy efficient is your apartment building? If it leaks like a sieve, is there anything you can do about it? Not much, not really…
All of Us Are Smarter than Any of Us Are
The Peak Energy Blog reads like it was written by a fellow traveller. I just came across it today by chance via a google search. Every time I look something environmental up online, I wind up one of two places: the EIA or some random green weblog. There are a lot of us out there – tens or hundreds of thousands I think.
The environmental problems we face are huge and many of them are amenable, at least in part, to relatively small actions by large groups of people. Furthermore, the intellectual labor of sorting out our environmental problems may not have to be done by a few think tanks stocked with full-on genius polymaths. It may be that a lot of our problems can be analysed to solution by “peer production.” If it’s good enough for Linux and Wikipedia, after all…
These are just examples, you understand. But it seems that small teams of people, like those who operate some areas of Wikipedia, could answer these questions in a definitively well-researched form. If the programmers and architects had enough spare resources to recreate Unix and are working on recreating Windows/MacOS, can the Greens create something of equivalent power and value, a Manual Of Doing The Right Thing that people can refer to to solve their ecological quandries? What other artefacts could peer production create to help us do a better job of living on the planet?
It’s true, there are so many good writers and thinkers out there. We need to harness this power and help direct it’s force to tackle the problems we face. It is partially why I became part of groovy green – sharing thoughts and ideas with others has a synergistic effect in helping to find solutions. Its also why this idea has carried forward into our “mission” at groovy green.
We strive to become the People’s Green Magazine: There are a tremendous amount of great environmental writers out there, and an increasing (and sometimes overwhelming) number of “green blogs”. Groovy Green will be a place where good writers can come to post articles and blog posts to a larger audience–while maintaining their own personal writing. We don’t want to be restrictive–hell we want writers to promote their own site! Many good writers have a small but dedicated audience of readers – we want to recruit authors from the sea of blogs out there and give them a platform to stand together on.