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Monday, May 26, 2008

GeeKyoto 2008 - Can travelling by Tube save the world?

On the 17th May 2008 I went a brill event about discussing the future.
GeeKyoto 2008 was based on the premise that world is fooked (sorry) broken and we have two choices, we either say "There's absolutely nothing I can do about it, and I'll be dead before it's really broken" or "I can't really do a lot but even little things I can do might make a difference to the future".

My Geekyoto Story Cube by Annie Mole

Even though I'm not a card carrrying eco warrior I'm definitely of the latter opinion and the event brought together some very interesting "geeks" who were trying to show how technology could be used to help fix what's broken.

At the event we were all given little "story cubes" see mine above to jot down ideas and stuff. The thing that really struck me throughout a lot of the presentations was there was a rash of companies being set up to measure your carbon footprint - but without actually doing much beyond that.

So you could tell how big your carbon footprint was and how it grew if you flew somewhere, got a bigger car, used more electricity, used more gas, etc etc. You could even see how large your friends and neighbours carbon footprint was. So far, so worthy. But what does that actually mean to the average person in the street?

I have a very small car. I only drive it at weekends. That's not because I want to be green (if I wanted to be really green I'd just dump it), it's because I don't like driving and it would cost me a fortune to drive to work.

But is my London Underground travel helping to save the planet then? Yeah I suppose it is. It's one less car on the road. Although perhaps it would be better if I cycled. It's a long way from Kew to the City and I'd be really sweaty by the time I arrived, so I'd have to have another shower. Which means more energy and water used there.

Unless I used the little egg-timer from the "Planet Repair" pack that Ken Livingstone put out while he was still Mayor. Apparently if I cut down my normal shower down to 4 minutes I'll be saving the planet. A four minute shower for me is more or less like just stepping in and out and simply isn't going to happen.

To me, the thing is that we're not going to really change our daily habits unless we can see some real tangible benefit or reward or have fun doing it. Perhaps we'd be more tempted to use the bus if we could have a swing while we were waiting there:

Geekyoto - Swings at Bus Stops

Brill presentation on playfulness by some students at Central Saint Martin's College. James Smith from dothegreenthing also had some sound ideas about trying not to follow the "worthy", "preachy", negative images slightly evidenced by the stickers in the Planet Repair pack "Turn off this", "Switch off that", "Unplug that".

Geekyoto - My Favourite Presentation

If being green is rewarded with playfulness, fun, empowerment and some kind of status for doing it and if we see simple little things that we can all do, I think green initiatives will have a much greater chance of success.

You'll see from my cube that I wondered if anyone was talking to the rail companies and TfL about all this. How could people who didn't use the Tube be encouraged to use it when we all know what a hot smelly rubbish and overcrowded form of transport it is? Could my Oystercard usage give me discounts off my residents permit parking or car tax / MOT?

I'm typing this as the rain is coming down with a vengeance outside which makes the idea of a Sunshine Garden and gardening for drought seem somewhat farcial right now.

Sunshine Garden Poster on the Tube

But maybe this is all part of the bigger problem. We had thick snow in mid April, interspersed with boiling hot days. We've had tons of rain this year and now even though it's virtually the end of May, it's really cold. The climate is certainly screwed and unless we start doing something, perhaps we might see a "broken world" in our own lifetimes or much sooner than expected.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, May 26, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE