[Scpg] The Blue Economy, Foreword by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director
Margie Bushman, Coordinator, SBCC Center for Sustainability
sbpcnet at silcom.com
Sat Apr 3 17:53:22 PDT 2010
The Blue Economy, by Gunter Pauli
Foreword Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director
The ideas you are about to encounter are among the most tantalizing
prospects for realizing a low carbon, resource-efficient economy in
the 21st century. It is remarkable that perhaps some of the greatest
opportunities for sustainable jobs will come from replicating the
efficient, zero-waste operation of ecosystems.
The natural world, in all its splendor and diversity, has already
solved many of the sustainability challenges facing humanity in
ingenious, unexpected, and even counter-intuitive ways. If humans
could only unravel the fascinating chemistry, processes, structures,
and designs that organisms -- from bacteria and mollusks to reptiles
and mammals --have evolved and tested over millennia, perhaps then we
would have new and transformational solutions to the many challenges
faced by a planet of six billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050.
Gunter Pauli's book, The Blue Economy, opens the door to this fresh,
forward-looking field. The pioneering advances it profiles will
quickly persuade business and government leaders to explore and
develop the cutting-edge sciences at the foundation of these new
highlights the innovative work of many, including Emile Ishida
(Japan), Wilhelm Barthlott (Germany), Andrew Parker (UK), Joanna
Aizenberg (Russia/USA), Jorge Alberto Vieira Costa (Brazil), and
other front-line scientists who refused to accept either the
conventional wisdom or the status quo. In featuring their work, The
Blue Economy demonstrates that we can find ways of utilizing physics,
chemistry, and biology just as ecosystems do with renewable materials
and sustainable practices. This is no longer the realm of
science-fiction; it is actually happening here and now. With
appropriate policies to support research and development, and
promotional strategies that accomplish their delivery through market
mechanisms, such materials and methods offer abundant opportunities
for accelerating their adaptation to address pressing global issues.
In turn, widespread adoption of the framework proposed in The Blue
Economy can provide a solid rationale for implementing the agenda of
the Convention on Biological Diversity and the missions of
organizations like UNEP and IUCN. Currently, species are being lost
at an unprecedented rate. Many scientists believe that the world is
now undergoing the sixth wave of extinctions, primarily caused by
economic models and human behavior that undervalue the contributions
of species, habitats, and ecosystems to our lives and the planet's
life support systems.
These species within ecosystems underpin our mega-trillion dollar
economy by providingb essential services at the local, regional, and
global level. Many ecosystem species and processes hold clues for
potentially significant achievements in production of medicine, food
crops, biofuels, and low-energy materials. These could prove to be
essential for societal measures to mitigate or adapt to climate
change. Such achievements will certainly be needed to catalyze new
sustainable businesses and industries to provide decent, sustainable jobs.
For the 100 innovations it describes, The Blue Economy estimates
this employment potential to be on the order of 100 million jobs. The
plausibility of this estimate is enhanced by the fact that there are
today more people employed in renewable energies than in the oil and
gas industries combined, and that investment in wind, solar, and
geothermal power generation exceeds investment in new fossil fuel
power plants. Consider a water-collecting system modeled after that
of the Namib Desert beetle.
By 2025, the United Nations forecasts that 1.8 billion people will be
living in countries or regions suffering from water scarcity. Two
thirds of the world's population could be living with conditions of
water stress. Meanwhile, climate change is expected to aggravate
water problems via more extreme weather events. The Namib beetle
lives in a location that receives a mere half inch of rain a year,
yet it can harvest water from fogs that blow in gales across the land
several mornings each month.
Researchers have recently designed a surface that is inspired by the
water-attracting bumps and water-shedding valleys of scales on the
beetle's wings. These scales allow the insect to collect and funnel
water droplets thinner than a human hair. Trials have been conducted
using beetle film to capture water vapor from cooling towers. Initial
tests have shown that this invention can recover 10% of the water
lost. This lowers energy bills for nearby buildings by reducing the
heat island effect. An estimated 50,000 new water-cooling towers are
erected annually and each large system loses over 500 million liters
of water per day. Other researchers are adapting the beetle water
collection system to develop tents that collect their own water as
well as surfaces that will mix reagents for "lab-on-a-chip"
applications. Twenty people are employed on this fledgling
development but the true world-wide potential might be as many as
100,000 new jobs.
The Blue Economy cites a project in Benin where a novel farming and
food-processing systememulates the way an ecosystem "cascades"
nutrients. Animal wastes from the slaughterhouse are processed in a
maggot farm to feed fish and quails; biogas provides electricity and
plants purify water. The project is a microcosm of the Blue Economy.
For the same Dollar, Euro, Rupee, or Yuan it generates, it produces
income, livelihoods, and food security while recycling and reusing
wastes. To date 250 people are employed. There is a potential of 5
million jobs if this cascading model were used in every African abattoir.
It has been nearly 70 years since Swiss engineer George de Mestral,
after examining the natural hooks on the burdock seeds that
stubbornly attached to his clothes while on a countryside stroll,
came up with an invention we know as Velcro.
More recently, buildings such as a shopping centre in Zimbabwe, a
hospital in Colombia, a school in Sweden, and the Zoological Society
of London are cooled by structures inspired by termite mounds.
Meanwhile, engineering schools around the world are racing to devel
op far more efficient solar power based on the molecules and
processes of photosynthesis. What The Blue Economy emphasizes is the
vast potential of such innovations. It spotlights the tipping point
inherent in the immense number of such breakthroughs currently in the
laboratory, under development, or being commercialized.
The world has been racked by food, fuel, environmental, financial,
and economic crises. Ecosystem and biodiversity loss has led to an
emerging climate crisis and a looming natural resource calamity.
A Blue Economy, able to deal systematically with these many
challenges, and ready to seize the manifest multiple opportunities,
is now essential. Our Earth has always been our greatest resource,
and this book cites 100 new reasons why investing in both local and
global ecosystem sustainability is even more valid and central today.
Leonardo da Vinci neatly summed up the power of ecosystems and
nature's material efficiency in his Codex Atlanticus: "Everything
comes from everything, and everything is made of everything, and
everything turns into everything, because that which exists in the elements is
made up of these elements."
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director
Ashok Khosla, President of IUCN
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Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
an educational non-profit since 2000
P.O. Box 92156, Santa Barbara, CA 93190
margie at sbpermaculture.org
"We are like trees, we must create new leaves, in new directions, in
order to grow." - Anonymous
First Annual Southern California Permaculture Convergence August 2008
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