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Rethinking Complexity

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Posts tagged with the category Sustainability

Leading thinkers in sustainability have known for some time now that a sustainable society can’t be based on continuous consumption.  The question was always:  how do we get there? A recent column in the New York Times suggests that it’s happening on its own, without any help from us. In “We’re Spent,”...
Photo courtesy of Metro Jacksonville Photographs.
Every time I drive through downtown Miami, it strikes me how much the skyline's changed during the past 25 years. The sparse city center forever immortalized in the 1980s by Miami Vice is now a mega-metropolis densely populated by condos and skyscrapers—monolithic structures of steel, concrete, and glass glistening off the waters of...
Photo of Valle del Bravo, Mexico, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sustainability is a global challenge. But in every place around the world, it requires a local response. The particularity of the problems—and also of the solutions—is connected to the culture and circumstances of specific places. Some of the work I’m doing in central Mexico involves coaching ecosocial entrepreneurs and designing...
The biggest hurdle to sustainable innovation isn’t the technology—it’s how to shift public consciousness, promoting the acceptance of technologies and practices that could make the way we live more sustainable. A shift in consciousness is the biggest hurdle that sustainability faces, and to understand the difficulties in winning...
Ted Turner called it in 1981. That was the first time the media mogul predicted the newspaper industry’s inevitable death, blaming its stale format for its eventual demise. He assumed the death would be quick and painless as more and more readers became viewers of his brand new cable news venture, CNN. Turner gave the newspaper industry 10...
Have the arguments for sustainability gotten stale – or left out the most important points? Make no mistake: the need for sustainable solutions has never been greater, and the clock is ticking. But after Earth Day, An Inconvenient Truth, Captain Planet, and endless news stories, is it possible that everyone who’s going to be moved...
If there were an easy manual for sustainability, we’d follow it:  western culture loves three easy steps, quick decisions, and technical fixes.  Such a manual is great, for the right problem when we’re dealing with technical problems for which there are known solutions.  But life isn’t a problem to be solved, and...
Do you know your supply chain? Most people don’t. Most people never think of themselves as consumers, producers, and service providers who use companies and businesses to accomplish their goals. But we are all active members of almost innumerable supply chains, and this has enormous ramifications for the environment. Most supply chains have...
Our current thinking about sustainability limits our opportunity to achieve the results needed in the short timeframe we have to turn the tide. We need to change that thinking and the leadership to do it is most likely to be found at the local level, rather than the national or global. Harness that local initiative, and the kind of big change that...
Going green would be easy if people were rational. Instead, even the most well-intentioned companies find that becoming sustainable is like a trip to the analyst’s couch. They find themselves asking “why are such simple changes so hard?” over and over again. It turns out that sustainability initiatives are often as...
The recent ecological disaster caused by the BP oil spill shortly after Earth Day is a reminder of the gap between the sustainability talk and the sustainability walk. The past 10 years of environmental awareness and activism have led to needed attention and some changes. Good intentions such as moving “beyond petroleum” made it into...