The question is not whether we are going to trash the planet. The question is whether we are going to trash ourselves as a species. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from last week’s publication by the United Nations Environment Program of GEO-4 (available online here, news article summary here). What’s interesting is that we’re now seeing cultural responses to our potential extinction.
I spent some of the weekend in Newcastle (or more precisely Gateshead) at the DOTT ’07 exhibition which marked the close of this ambitious two year project. Three essential lessons for me, which won’t be surprising to those who know the work of John Thackara, who directed the project:
- Sustainability is about flows, not stuff
- Those flows have to include knowledge as well as materials
- Sustainability needs social, public, and community engagement
The project has been well-documented on the website, but it’s worth pulling out a few personal moments of illumination.