During a conversation at the Fall 2009 SVN conference over tea, Diana Lee of the Biomimicry Institute added this wisdom to our conversation; “There is no energy crisis in nature.” Waste exists in our minds and in our culture but in the natural world which we are a part of, the outputs of one process become the inputs of another.
The opening night plenary of the SVN Spring Member Gathering delved into this topic with Gunter Pauli, the co-founder of SVN Europe, Ecover, and the Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives (ZERI) took the stage.
Gunter wants you to believe that you can change the rules of the game and throughout the presentation, example after example showed just how much could be done toward preservation and conservation while doing just that.
He has combed the natural world with the world’s leading academics looking for innovations that could revolutionize industries. But in order for an innovation to be considered, it must
- Be inspired by the ecosystems
- Be based on physics
- Target blatant models of unsustainable consumption
- Always generate multiple benefits
Gunter showed examples from the 100 innovations he profiles in his book. The idea that most grabbed the crowd’s imagination was the possibly of building a battery-less cell phone that charges itself by collecting body heat and motion. The other 99 innovation can be found in his book, The Blue Economy; 10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs.
As the conversation continued, the greatest challenge of using less, it seems, is not in developing the innovations themselves but in resistance from corporations which stand to have their business plans upended. It is in their short-term interest to block these innovations from succeeding. These challenges may slow down progress, but they will not stop it completely and with the greater needs of the planet in mind we have to continue looking to nature for the solutions that will help to make our lifestyles more sustainable.
Gunter thinks we do need to change the game, but we need to be cagey about it: “David took on Goliath and won because he changed the rules of the game – and he didn’t tell Goliath.” And he closed by challenging SVN: “Please conspire to make this a better world.”
This post was written for SVN during their spring member conference.