Social constructs, service and interdependence, and serendipitous beneficiaries
Our lives and livelihoods are interwoven with the ecosystems of the planet we share. The security of our lives: of the foods which we produce and eat; the waters flowing across the globe—sourcing the flow of flora and fauna; the air we breathe, and lands we walk are daily burdened with the discards and pollutants of unsustainable choices and behaviors.
Everywhere, one sees life striving, driven by nature to survive. Of 25 million species, or more, living on this planet, all can be named, and interrelated, as Earthlings. One of these species, only one, is human—capable of remembering and recording history, capable of choice and change… and yet we stand at a cross-roads of our own creating. Can we, together, develop the good governance and sense of individual responsibility and empowerment to ensure the security of our own, and those myriad other lives, those millions of other species, and of those voiceless and underserved among our human brethren, who struggle for access to food, water, to light, and space for life? As depletion of resources becomes measurable, as extinction of species looms ever more inexorably, the social compacts which enable humans to co-exist, to hope for life without war, to strive for the knowledge and freedom which inspire creative solutions to economic, ethical/social, and environmental challenges, must be re-defined.
In an interconnected, interdependent world, the mismatching of needs, opportunities, competition and accountability is undermining the perceived value of education, of labor markets which cannot absorb the vast pools of skilled and unskilled labor, of social infrastructures which cannot maximize the multifaceted resources of human capital, strength and creativity. Inequality of access and value-of-outcome for individual and group efforts and achievements leads too often to poverty, to gender-, ability- or cultural/religious- based deprivation, to exclusion, crime, violence, larger conflicts, and war.
Social infrastructures, regardless of climate, location, or resources, depend upon the investment of participants, individually and as communities, to endure. Poor outcomes which commence with access-based discrimination, geographic exclusion-by-circumstance, or disparities in food, water, energy, or habitat security become progressively imbalanced, diminishing productivity and even viability across classes, and across earth-species and eco-systems. Clear expectations of recompense-for-effort are reinforced by media and crowd influences, yet equitable, durable opportunities for educational, economic, environmental, energy and ethical (“universal” freedoms and rights) security are ever increasingly threatened. At a time crucial to the development of human responsibility and investment in a sustainable, interdependent world, poverty of outcomes is impoverishing, endangering the future of our species, and perhaps of all species, on this planet.
The concept of serendipitous beneficiaries, of responsible development which considers the interconnectedness of humankind, of other earth species, of limited-finite resources, global-renewable resources, and potential for sustainability, is crucial to the “greening” of markets, services, human occupations, and inter-species survival today. The challenge to progress towards sustainability requires the creation of green corporations; green recreation and tourism; secure-and-renewable energy; improved land and waste management; improved security of food and water; elder-and-other inclusion opportunities; educational, vocational, and rehabilitation programs which can all be combined in integrated approaches to preserve resources and ensure better lives for all sharing this Earth.
Three simple projects, scalable locally, but adaptable globally, could combine to produce integrated opportunities to build infrastructure, responsibility and accountability, and to improve environmental, energy, educational, economic, and earth security. When people from all walks of life become stakeholders in infrastructure building and sustaining green-living projects, it becomes possible to preserve, and celebrate, those features of culture, heritage, and environment which are unique to one space or region, and those which are shared by all. It becomes possible to ameliorate those challenges to nature, and of nature, which affect some, or all; it becomes possible to redefine habits of excess to economies of need, care, and serendipitous beneficiaries.
For example, trails connecting destinations predate man’s history; today, networked, sustainable trails can still link real, and virtual, destinations—and can address the competing needs of a modernizing, interdependent world. Trails can be equipped with solar-valent, and piezoelectric, or other energy-harnessing technologies to capture and supply electrical power to local/national grid systems, and provide access, egress, and energy to communities world-wide. Xeriscaped borders, hanging gardens, and shade/sun food forestry along the trailways would diminish heat-bloom and soil erosion, and increase healthy ecosystems available to pollinator- and indigenous- species, and provide food for human loca-vore small-businesses. Precipitation-capture and grey-water recycling along the trails could increase water security. Appreciation of local environments, heritage, artistry and culture could be shared not only through proximity of amenities to the trails, but through various learning opportunities, and online games, which would enable races, learning of local facts and lore, and message exchange between trail-travelers in many, communication-linked/synced, locations.
Similarly, secondly, person-powered energy-grid contribution systems could be installed to amass and donate sustainable/renewable power from participants in airport, train and other transit zones, in play- and waiting- areas, and, especially, in sports stadiums, where fans in stands (and, eventually, fans in their own homes, with synced-in connectivity) can “vote with their feet” and pedal/power to express support for their teams, corporate groups, social or charitable organization, or brand-or-fan-based service or group. Not only would this “wellness play” improve health, but person-powered grid systems (and related learning tools, communication links, and games) can provide inclusion and ownership of individual, family, community, regional or national/international efforts to improve standards of living, and encourage fun, win-win engagements which are environmentally sustainable, and age, gender, ability, social, political, and culturally-inclusive.
Thirdly, every year, storms and floods devastate populations and ecosystems world-wide. If, each year, in frigid, frozen-precipitate zones, snow (and ice) could be collected (estimated to have fallen above calculated-average amounts) into impermeable, re-usable containers. These containers would be partially-submersible/float-able, inter-connectable, equipped with anchorage and GPS tracking/locator devices, and stored above the freeze-lines in mountain and perma-frost zones. Depleting melt-runoff would allow greater flexibility in handling rainy-season water flows, mitigating seasonal down-stream flooding to some extent. Further, when hurricanes or cyclones, or other massive storm systems which feed on warm-water and warm-air currents threaten strategic, economic, or heavily-populated areas, the frozen containers could be air-lifted to storm-path locations, dropped-linked-and-anchored offshore to chill waters enough to slow, stall, or divert a storm, lessening impact and huge tolls in life, environment, and economy. At the completion of the weather event, the containers could be brought to tertiary, drought-impacted location, and the (now-melted) water off-loaded for potable- or irrigation- systems use, and finally, returned to point-of-origin and stored for re-filling the next winter season.
Myriad other projects, including clean oceans, clean skies, resources and regions, exist at least in concept (or still wait to be conceived), which, blended with the goals of serendipitous beneficiaries as a measure and enhancement of social responsibility and sustainability, could add to the flexibility and responsiveness of infrastructures, education, and the performance, transparency, and accountability of service, commercial, and industrial providers, and of each of us. In an interdependent humanity, on an interdependent planet of limited resources, a “green” approach which includes associated industries, services and ecosystems as serendipitous providers and beneficiaries of planned output can result in alleviation of “poor outcomes” for all strata of society, of species. Ensuring the distribution of adequate, renewable water, food, energy, and habitat, as well as inclusion and education/stewardship in our shared human/inter-species environment and pool of resources can, and must, result in a raised quality of sustainable, responsible lifestyles for humankind, and for our millions of fellow earth-species.