I was particularly struck by Stewart Brand's talk on environmental heresies. He brought up controversial issues like the legitimate use of nuclear power, he talks about the kinds of wars we will have in the future (over resources like water) and he makes a case for geo-engineering. He looks the issues squarely in the face and he challenges people to go beyond political correctness and just address whatever is urgent. The urban poor and where they will take the world in a few decades was a really interesting topic for me. It occurs to me that the urban poor question is hopeless. It's too big, too overwhelming and I don't know how in the world there will ever be a solution for it. And yet, it it is this sector that is shaping the future of our climate. It is the developing countries and the needs of the urban poor (who form the majority in the cities) that will shape where we will go with renewable energy.
I take this realization with the case made by Rob Hopkins on resilience. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my husband about "The Invisible Hand" and how everything will turn out all right in the end because people will adjust. While I disagreed with him that we should leave things to chance (or to whatever circumstances come our way), I do see the wisdom of going back to smaller and smaller circles to address the requirements of future generations.
If cities will be the habitat of future developing populations...we need to see this landscape in a different light. I see the following scenarios: working close to home to remove the need for frequent transport (and emission of carbon dioxide), creating more means of public transport (rather than providing more vehicles) to the population, creating urban gardens (for planting our own food), buying entirely fresh and local (instead of relying on faraway and large-carbon-footprint imports), organizing around local requirements, education about the commons, using less energy when we can use natural light and natural means of cooling (or heating), re-using plastic, removing disposables. These are all factors that are entirely possible with enough support from the ground up.
Only action will get us will get to where we need to go. No matter how much we are aware or no matter how much we discuss...it is still action that will spell the difference. Small actions...like ones made in resilient communities are steps we can all take. We can start there.
The video above is from TED talks, it's the video of Stewart Brand talking about environmental heresies.