To hell with more. I want better.
Exploring the ideas transforming our world for the better.
Let’s start with the bad news: we humans have inflicted such a radical change on our planet, a change of such magnitude that we have forever changed the Earth’s atmosphere. And not only the atmosphere but we have halted the growth of biodiversity, and are in fact destroying the biodiversity of almost every ecosystem on Earth. We have contributed to extinction of almost 50% of all the animal species on the planet (I recommend Elizabeth Kolbert’s unsettling book, called The Sixth Extinction), and have made the oceans so acidic that some scientists estimate that by the year 2048 there will be no fish left in the sea. We have extracted 944 billion barrels of oil since oil extraction began. China alone has used more concrete from 2011–2013 than the US used in the entire 20th century (that’s 6.6 gigatons, or the equivalent of 7.2 billion tonnes). Geologists are actually proposing a new epoch called the Anthropocene (from the Greek “anthropos”, human) to describe the impact we’ve had on the planet.
Is it all bad? Absolutely not. And that’s the complex part. We tend to think in dualist terms, that is, in binary oppositions: good vs. bad, white vs. black, me vs. you, etc. I get it. It’s easier to organize our life and our moral compass with such well defined terms. However, if you take a look back in history (except for some pretty clear exceptions such as Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot), you’ll notice that people are not always fully good or fully bad, but act according to a murky, mostly grey scale. And the same is true at a collective level. Historical movements have fought for certain ideas, while forgetting others. History is full of nuances, of contradictions and paradoxes, and any person that wants that tells you otherwise should not be trusted. As a society, we have destroyed most of Earth’s natural systems, while creating unparalleled progress for our species. Child mortality has dropped by over 45% in the last thirty years, democracy is the most spread political system, life expectancy has almost doubled since the 1800s, and hunger has diminished by 50% since the 1960s. Even if we have reaped massive inequalities and destruction and wars, humans of today are actually better off than in any other period in history. And there’s so much to work on.
I think most of the current socioeconomic system is ripe for reimagining. Thus, I want to document the people, the ideas and the technologies that are transforming humanity for the better: the projects that are impacting the individuals, the local communities, and the global ones.
Most of the ideas that have been challenging the status quo have common themes: the empowerment of the individual in face of monolithic institutions, the use and adoption of decentralized networks to organize power, as well as a re-evaluation of the current capitalist tenets that seem so entrenched to the world economy.
Within the food system I am very interested in how urban agriculture and smaller, sustainably powered operations can help solve the health and food crises we are living in. I think the food revolution will not come from massive industrial farms, but rather from our backyards and balconies and rooftops. Cooperatives and collectives have also challenged the idea of the top-down approach of corporations and they represent a more egalitarian and resilient model for human organization. At the crossroads between technology and finance, the blockchain has created a transparent, decentralized ledger in which transactions can be recorded without the need of a centralized power. Crowdsourcing has leveraged the power of communities of people working toward a common goal, and has created my favorite website: Wikipedia.
I could go on and on, but I think a detailed, balanced account of some of the ideas and projects listed above is needed. In the following weeks you should expect an in-depth exploration of each of these, including more research, several examples of inspiring projects, as well as interviews with people at the forefront of these transformational ideas.
Until then, I leave you with a quote of one of my favorite sci-fi writers, Ray Bradbury.
People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.