Three Times the Signs

By Adam Brock

Three recent articles from the New York Times are WGYworthy in their Forest Green implications. Let’s connect the dots:

Tom Friedman, of all people, finally seems to be catching on to the fact that we’ll have to seriously retool the economy to save our species. With Bali more or less a wash thanks to the Bush Administration’s anti-diplomacy, Freidman seems to have decided that market forces are more powerful at raping the planet than any kind of diplomacy can be at saving it:

Indeed, today’s global economy has become like a monster truck with the gas pedal stuck, and we’ve lost the key — so no one can stop it from wiping out more and more of the natural world, no matter what the global plan.

And this from globalization’s prime hype man… perhaps there’s a downside to all that world-flattening, after all.

In the Magazine, meanwhile, Michael Pollan weighs in on the overuse of the term “sustainable” and the inherent fragility of mass-produced monocultures. The MRSA scare and Colony Collapse Disorder, he explains, are symptoms of the same impulse: treating living things like machines in an effort to widen those profit margins just a little bit more. The last couple lines say it all:

…whatever we may gain in industrial efficiency, we sacrifice in biological resilience. The question is not whether systems this brittle will break down, but when and how, and whether when they do, we’ll be prepared to treat the whole idea of sustainability as something more than a nice word.

Finally, on a somewhat more encouraging note, consumer critic Rob Walker has a lengthy piece on the revival of craft culture as self-conscious antidote to soulless consumerism. Thanks in large part to Etsy, an ebay of sorts for crafty types, tinkerers worldwide are able to connect, trade entrepreneurial tips and hone their artistic skills.

To sum up: a free-trade cheerleader admits that globalization is destroying the earth, the hero of sustainable agriculture points to signs of the industrial food system nearing collapse, and the internet is being leveraged to launch a mass movement against mass production. Sounds like the first rumblings of a paradigm shift to me.

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One thought on “Three Times the Signs

  1. Nelson Harvey says:

    Thanks for flagging those articles, Adam. One thing: I’m not sure it’s fair to call the Bali negotiations a “wash,” thanks to the Bush Administration’s “anti-diplomacy.” In fact, some would argue that they were some sort of success in spite of the Bush Administration. This post by Tom Athanasiou on Gristmill explains why:

    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/12/16/222024/73

    Athanasiou points out that the negotiations saw acknowledgement from many in the G77, the negotiating bloc of the global south, that they too would have to accept significant emissions reductions. In addition, the emerging consensus in the global north seems to be that the historical emitters will have to provide serious technological and monetary aid to these countries if meaningful reductions are to be achieved.

    The Bali conference was only ever expected to yield a framework for negotiations. At least the framework shaping up appears to be a decent one.

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