annie leonard’s latest film of her story of stuff project is her best piece by far, and has turned me into a fan, because i think that it has finally arrived at the most essential and important part of her message.

in case you haven’t seen any of her videos yet, they are cutely animated videos that started out with explaining the process of how things are produced, consumed, and disposed – and what effect that has on the planet.the next few videos were focused on the story behind certain consumer items (bottled water, cosmetics, electronics), the cap-and-trade system, and (my favorite till now) the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

the story of change is about her theory of change – and i’m glad to hear that she doesn’t propose that it’s just about changing your shopping patterns. i do think that buying better & less stuff is a good place to start if you can, but it must not stop there. i believe that the systems we have built (money, economy, nation states, education, health care, social services) are not working for us anymore, either due to fundamental changes to the world we live in or the fallibility of the human condition. i think we need to thoroughly rethink and redesign these systems, and that it needs to happen soon if we want to preserve a halfway-livable planet. and by redesign, i mean something that is closer to a revolution than a reform.

“the solutions we need are not for sale at the supermarket”

dominik wind, berlin activist & thinker, participated in a panel at the influencer conference the other week, and this blog post pretty much summarizes the panel. you should really read it, especially for the researched facts.

There´s no better way to sum this up then Ronen Kadushin, who developed the open design concept, did at the panel: “We´re pretty much fucked.” Dave Pollard wrote: “We have unleashed the sixth great extinction of life on Earth […]. We have created a political and economic industrial growth civilization monoculture that is unsustainable, out of control and unstoppable. I´m a hopeless optimist so of course I can´t take “unstoppable” although reading through my research I´d agree on “probably unstoppable”.
The only quite utopian option I can think of is that a majority of us understands:
Industrialism and consumerism are the reason for, not the solution of, the problem. The technocratic promise of “inventing our way out of the problem” is proven wrong by the sheer numbers and statistics. It brought us here. We CAN´T have more cars, more traveling, cheaper clothes AND our planet. It´s time to act, the window of time left to act is closing.

yes, it sounds alarmist, but he has a bunch of figures to back it up. i pretty much agree with him that we are living in critical times. and perhaps all we can do at this point is damage control. we’ve heard about runaway climate change, and that virtually all scientists agree on what’s happening. in the US, activists are fighting keystone XL, and in mckibben’s words, if they fail, it’s ’game over for the climate’. we’ve even been told that our time will be coined ’the age of stupid’.

so, where do we go from here? i do fear it might be too big of a problem. it seems like people need to personally feel the effects of something before starting to act. however, we might not have the luxury for trial-and-error; the error might set us back too far. perhaps there’s no other way than to run everything into the ground, and start all over again with what’s left. reset. perhaps sustainability is something that our current society just wasn’t built for. perhaps from a greater perspective, sustainability means that the natural system will get rid of the destructive factor: mankind.

on the other hand, perhaps damage control can significantly us slow down before the crash, so we might be able to survive. but we need to turn the steering wheel hard, now. we have to go back to the drawing board and create systems that are not based on unlimited economic growth. i think we need to act and communicate with a high level of urgency (similar this dylan ratigan or howard beale), and get shit done. anyway, there’s no reason not to try it. nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. and who would like to be involved in anything less than saving the world?

i’m looking forward to meeting dominik again to figure out some solutions. and he’s not as gloomy as it might appear from the excerpt. after all his blog is subtitled ’replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.’

“wenn – wie uns die statistiker versichern – jeder ungefähr 20 wochen seines lebens im auto im stau verbringt und ich verzichte darauf, dann habe ich zwanzig wochen lebenszeit gewonnen. das ist ja kein Verzicht. wenn ich diesen dreck nicht mehr esse, der über die massentierhaltung produziert wird, ist das auch kein verzicht.

die leute halten dinge für bestandteile ihrer lebensqualität, obwohl es sie krank macht, obwohl es sie nervös macht, obwohl es ihnen die zeit stiehlt und so weiter. das sind entfremdete bedürfnisse und man befindet sich im irrtum, wenn man glaubt, man müsse sie befriedigen.”

– harald welzer