Alex Steffen says the time to reimagine sustainability is overdue: The idea that sustainability is an add-on—something we do to make already functional systems more responsible—is one of these relics of the past.
We can no longer retrofit failed systems.
Sustainability now demands wholesale systems change and demands huge disruptions to the status quo. We need massive, rapid transitions in how we power our societies, build our cities, meet our basic needs and work with natural systems to grow our food, provide our water and maintain planetary stability.
Energy, the basic foundation of our prosperous lifestyles, is moving away from centralized power plants and closer to the customer.
Innovations like distributed solar power make sense. We can either choose to keep trying to 'retrofit' the old systems, with large utilities continuing to impose increasing fees on individual solar power generation, while trying to figure out how to continue their power monopoly or we can move forward to micro-grid systems, solar panel leasing, distributed solar, and efficient battery storage. We can embrace wind and wave power and continually seek emerging efficient ways to rapidly convert systems from carbon dependency.
It is time to reimagine sustainability. Power monopolies can go the way of the dinosaurs who created all this fossil fuel to begin with.