The first industrial revolution was based on brute force, cheap energy, wanton exploitation of resources, endless consumption, and careless waste. That age is over.
The great challenge in the next century will be to harmonize human activity with the earth's fragile biosphere. Companies, cities and metropolitan regions must redesign themselves. We will all have to create new lives based on ecological principles.
It's hard to imagine what all this might mean. But consider the following "design assignment" posed by William McDonough, one of the world's leading ecological designers. He asks us to imagine designing a system which:
McDonough says that these are the retroactive design assignments of the First Industrial Revolution. It's a frightening design problem, he adds, because these assignments and values appear unethical.
But now imagine being asked to design a system which:
These are the design assignments and values of the Second Industrial Revolution, McDonough says. They represent opportunities for creative people and institutions to create a better world.
People in Greater Cleveland are already tackling this new design assignment. It's a fascinating, interdisciplinary discussion that goes far beyond the usual environmental activists to include architects, engineers, builders, businesses, planners, and university researchers. They are creating new organizations and projects to push us to think in new terms.
Redesigning industry topics
Eco-entrepreneurs in Cleveland
Companies going "green"