How Ripples Reflects a New Part of Nature

After a wonderful meeting of the Earth Charter Youth Task Force this morning, and after reading Biz Stone’s Who Let the Blogs Out, I have been thrust into a new understanding of sustainability that includes something I have always felt was the antithesis of nature: technology.

I’m 26, and despite the assumption that most of my age group is hooked up to a space station of various tech gadgets, I greatly dislike anything with wires or batteries.  (Ironically, I’m married to a techie)  One of my main motivations for living sustainably and getting away from traditional, unsustainable sources of fuel is that I want more trees than computers in my daily life.  I want to not only use the sun to power my computer, but also to use the contraption less often!

But our Earth is growing a “brain”, and it involves technology.

“In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself – through our eyes.” -Alan Watts

Already, various parts of the planet are connected through the forces of nature and the atoms that join us all together.  A piece of trash tossed onto a road can someday end up in our ocean’s floating garbage patch.  But while plastic could become part of the food chain by getting digested by bacteria, the whole food chain (including humans) is now hyperconnected with technology.  Beyond the more “natural” connections, we now have invisible ones involving buttons and clicks.

A great read for anyone interested in blogging and making connections.

Biz Stone describes the blogosphere as “A kind of interdependent hyperconnected macro-organism that is unavoidably the future of our connected lives.” This statement profoundly moved me, because it means that sustainability (and survival) isn’t just about local anymore.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding “act locally” in the green movement, including an almost proud intentional focus on “our” community, “our” nation, “our” local economy, “our” water.  I believe in eating local foods, supporting local businesses, planting native species, supporting the local bake sale etc.  Face-to-face, word-of-mouth interaction still holds a lot of weight.

Our “Localness” may be an Illusion

Being hyperconnected does not mean disconnected from your local community; rather, technology is increasing our “biodiversity” in a sense.  We can no longer say that Germany or Peru or the lady I met on a roadtrip to California are not “a part of” our local movements, because their thoughts & technology may have directly influenced that terrific wind turbine project or that natural building or the cure for the songbird population decline.

It’s a lot easier to save the rainforest if everyone is connected to those that live in the rainforest.  It’s a lot easier to empower women entrepreneurs in the southern United States by learning from successful women entrepreneurs in Uganda.  “More heads are better than one,” and a global community of heads should be the next “local” we take pride in.

When a mosquito lands on your leg, you can swat it away. Thanks to technology like blogging, when a disaster happens in one part of the world, people all over the globe can respond to help, to change the material reality of that forest / community / shoreline etc.  To me, this is a new form of ecology, and vital to anyone wanting to live sustainably or go off-grid.