Canadian writer Douglas Coupland reminds us that the current torrent of change means there’s no going back—at least not to the U.S. middle class tableau of the past 50 years. Goodbye middle class. Rural suburbs. Technology emerging at a digestible pace. Assured economic upswings.
What will the next 10 years look like? This question reminds me of an NSF-sponsored city visioning project, Sustainable Lowell 2020, for which I was hired to write 4 scenarios for the future, ranging from ultra-high-tech to urban homesteading. (More on that later.) (*A Nantucket sleighride, in case you haven’t heard it, was a term used by whalers when their boat was pulled through the waves by a harpooned whale, sometimes for miles, before it tired and could be further hooked and taken to the ship.)
The iconic writer reveals the shape of things to come, with 45 tips for survival and a matching glossary of the new words you’ll need to talk about your messed-up future.
1) It’s going to get worse
No silver linings and no lemonade. The elevator only goes down. The bright note is that the elevator will, at some point, stop.
2) The future isn’t going to feel futuristic
It’s simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn’t feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong. Continue reading →
A PBS show about asthma reported that kids exposed to animal manure have lower incidences of asthma. The key agent appears to be “endotoxins” in manure. It might be that microbes like fecal coliform, which in certain volumes and types can cause illness, actually either result in boosted immunity.
A study shows that kids who get sunshine (vitamin D), play in the dirt, play with other children, and are exposed to pets or other animals from birth tend to have lower asthma and allergy incidence. Early ongoing exposure to pigs are associated with the lowest incidence of asthma, the study concluded. This is interesting because pig excreta is close to human excetra in its constitution. Could using and maintaining a composting toilet actually reduce risk of illness?
TV commercial: A couple is reviewing their budget on a computer. He lists her expenses that could be cut: Pilates class, etc. She lists his in response. You can see it’s going to be a painful negotiation. Then the screen flashes to a compact fluorescent light bulb and an estimated monthly savings, suggesting installing these bulbs will allow the couple to keep the stuff they love. This message conveys the primary value proposition of energy conservation and does it fast. Kudos!
I’m not sure this is how I would have crafted this campaign action.
1. Squatting, per se, is not the problem. A large population uses squatting toilets.
2. Lack of toilets is not the problem either. Millions of toilets in the world drain to drinking water sources and other places where disease is easily transmitted. “Toilets,” perhaps in the WTO’s view, are the mascot for excreta management, the real challenge.
This could be helpful for those of us who have written books with “toilet” in the title by raising the profile of the word, toilet, and associating it with greater good.
Will squatting raise awareness and spur to action? With my creaky knees, it would certainly associate some empathetic pain to the issue for me.
That said, squat away on Nov. 19 and think about how to promote better sanitation and excreta management.
I love the 345 reader comments that follow the article. They run the gamut of opinions, but most suggest the buzz of local clean energy is a tolerable and necessary cost. I also like this use of the newspaper as a forum for input. (Two of my favorite comments are at the end of this post.)
In July, I sat under these turbines for an afternoon. They emitted a low machine hum and a breezy whoosh. ‘Hard to believe they can be heard half a mile away, but I can imagine it’s a new background vibration. Perhaps these complainers are lobbying for a settlement check or a home buyout by the electric cooperative (a few nearby homes were purchased before the project was installed).
Here’s a link to my photos of my afternoon at Vinalhaven’s wind turbines. Photos
On a press pass, I managed to attend the final day of West Coast Green, a green building conference in San Francisco. It’s a west coast version of the Northeast’s NESEA conference. Here’s a slide show: