Connectivity & SustainabilityPosted: November 10, 2013
Nothing gives me more optimism than the rise of internet connectivity for the quality of life on this planet going forward. Being able to interact with a wide diversity of individuals, gain quality information simply by having good search techniques and a degree of discernment for what is true or not, for misinformation is rampant on the net – both intentional and ignorant, and the speed at which one can accelerate their learning based upon their own connections, patterns, interests and perspectives is staggering sometimes. Just keeping up is a challenge sometimes.
Yet it is good to be alive at such a point in history if one is inclined towards social activism, which certainly those involved in sustainability and environmental issues for the built environment certainly are. I believe that the world is a better place for it. There is possible now, a high degree of cooperation between a diverse group of interests – governmental, institutional, scientific and commercial organizations. Each utilizing their specialized understandings in concert with each other for the highest good of a broad section of the population, who are the ultimate beneficiaries. There is a discernible impulse towards innovative responses and the ability to get attention focused on these, thanks to a greater degree of accessibility and connectivity.
There is a symbiotic relationship between environmentally innovative firms and interest in one another’s pursuits. As a materials business, focused on sustainable processes that utilized already extracted natural resources by extending their usefulness and not squandering their residual values, we come in contact every day with other niche interests with common perspectives of seeking the good for all involved. It is heartening at a deep level. There is great hope inherent in these developments.
When larger mainstream industries operating within traditional standards can also realize coincidentally greater profit margins, it is not difficult for them to be motivated to cooperate with national programs such as the US Green Building Council’s LEED specifications. We have seen conventional resistance, certainly, within the plastics industry, when their profitability feels threatened by too generic of an approach to standards. It does not promote progress for parties to take too rigid of a stance in opposition to one another.
For example, though Monsanto continues to experience a high degree of opposition to their practices which I am not here to judge publically one way or another, a moment in time stands out for me. We were involved in St Louis Earth Day celebrations back in the 1990s and developed a friendship there with a long-time local environmentalist who also works at state levels to promote the common good. A group of activists came into the celebration and staged an impromptu demonstration against the corporation. She said to me, still a fledgling in the movement at that time, better progress is found sitting down with Monsanto seeking commonality that appeals to their financial interests than all the demonstrations that will ever be staged. I understood and have not forgotten.
There is a law in physics “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” but somehow, it is my belief that indications of harmony and efforts at cooperation move progress forward more quickly that waging battles and seeking to win by causing others to lose. As the controversies over climate change show, even the best and most diligent minds find it difficult to arrive at simple explanations, likely outcomes or good solutions to the large issues that remain of utmost importance to – not the sustainability of the planet, which will easily survive anything humanity can hurl at her – but the sustainability of our species. That is the issue that people need to consider carefully, down to the level of individual actions and translated up to whatever higher level they have any influence over.
Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer