Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheers to 2013 and all of its Mediocrities.

Well, I squandered 2012 trying to figure out if there is something brainy I can say about sustainability so people will take me seriously. But I soon realized people don’t want brainy; intelligence is overrated. From looking at all of the funny pictures and copy-and-paste quotes on facebook, I get the sense that everyone demands just plain mediocrity. Quick fixes are better than deep introspective changes; “Yes We Can” is nothing more than a slogan that makes people feel better once every four years, that’s all.

So as I look forward to 2013, I have a few things to get off my chest before I squander another precious year on meaningless things under the disguise of hoping for better days. Here is goes:

First, the EPA’s administrator, Lisa Jackson, is leaving office. She has been a good administrator and I have reported on some of her initiatives. But as the EPA have always taken the backseat in the Obama ride, the  "end of the pipeline" command and control regulation to make pollution illegal still irks me.  I can’t stress enough that I don’t believe more regulation is the way to solve our problems (thus I alienate my brainless friends from the left); but I can’t help but laugh at the tea-bagger’s sentiment that a complete deconstruction of civilized order is the happy meal I should be made to suffer. So I stay far and far away from the right and as I estrange myself (and this blog) to the middle of nowhere, I remind you that sustainable development is not about who’s right or wrong, but about how to make this planet productive enough to support all of us without self-destruction.

This leads me to my second point: the Obama administration and those in the House and Senate seem to not understand the economics of an escalating global interface and probably even less about the sustainability science. So far, our policies have been both conventional and unimaginative and there had been no effort to integrate sustainable resource utilization and technological development into our economic strategies. "Green" has been a PR ploy rather than creating real solutions and the leverage on social media is just perpetuating the mediocrity. The right thinks of the EPA as “the anti-growth, eat-your-spinach,don't use that plastic bag, Department of Things We Aren't Allowed to Do” and the left thinks more authoritative directives will make us like our veggies. While the idealists clash over how many rules we should follow and how much freedom we ought to turn over to the big government, the savvy business folks are partnering social media opportunists to create the green wash phenomenon that makes me want to puke.   

The retches of new media for profit’s sake brings me to the third thing I must expose: sustainability is supposed to be a global initiative to study the closed human ecosystem—the Human Ecology—that ensures that all resources end up in some form of production to advance our common interest; the premise of sustainability is that our environment is the source of our economics and ultimately impacts our communities. From a business perspective, process efficiency and continuous improvements is about the better use of natural resources that makes a company more profitable and people friendly—it’s not just about stock prices and profit margins. But from a policy perspective, and from a mass media reporting perspective, the EPA and the green-washed lefties seem to assume inefficient and polluting manufacturing is a given and are still fighting natural growth and job creation that is necessary to balance a civilized society. I often wonder if the left think completely banning all manufacturing and production will mean utopia just as the far right thinks complete deregulating the industries means we will, in some miraculous ways, all get rich and die happy. Meanwhile, the Chinese are aggressively pursuing sustainable growth and creating new economic incentives, drawing what little opportunities are left to their businesses. Here in the US, we are trotting bad politics as if empty slogans and Jesus will save us.  

And here is my final point: there is a growing inequality here in the US; it is shaped by a combination of federal policies, new technologies, unevenness of educational opportunity, the evolution of the market, and escalating demands of the global population. There is less and less class mobility, and cultural bifurcation is “the greatest danger our country faces.” Facing this horror of income and perspective gap between the wealthy and the poor, between the left and the right, between generations, I can’t help but think Idioaracy is playing itself out and I’m being evolved out of this new media history.

As I engage in another year of rants and raves about sustainability, allow me this opportunity to be a cynic and say cheers to an ill-defined mediocrity. For the New Year, I shall try to shed as much of my intelligence as possible to fit into this ill-fitting place.    

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