An often heard mantra for those of us that love the environment is to tread lightly while travelling in the wilderness.
And in the wilderness, this concept is easy to follow. Simple sayings such as ‘pack out what you pack in’ or ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’ are often stated.
But when it comes to our modern world, these simple messages get lost in the complexities of our society. Justifications for our industrial impacts range from cost of prevention to denial of impact.
For the latter, it is easy to see how we might not believe we have an impact, for the world is vast. How much impact could we have? It is only in recent time that we have begun to understand how much impact we are capable of.
But this is not a blog post on how we should work towards lowering our impact.
It is about how if we are to change, we need to present viable new paths to a more sustainable future. For example, it isn’t good enough to say ‘we should not burn hydrocarbons’; we must provide a way for those that depend upon fossil fuels to not be impacted in such a way as to reject fuel alternatives.
More fundamentally, it is a statement on how we need to change how we look at the world and our place in it. Rather than seeing the world as something that can withstand our waste up to a point, we should be looking at our industrial processes like we look at treks through the wilderness – how do we make them net-zero waste generating?
When it comes to carbon dioxide, this kind of thought is beginning. Rather than seeing carbon dioxide as a waste, innovators are finding ways to turn it into valuable commodities such as fuels. Imagine if we were able to utilise all of our waste in such a way?
For those that have been following the Museum’s work for the past few years, this will sound familiar – it is our Rethink initiative.
But in one of the soft aspects of Rethink is that it is does not aggressively seek to change individual behaviour. Its purpose at this stage is to stimulate thought and discussion on resource usage.
We are treading lightly for good reason – it is because we don’t have all the answers. What we do have though, are ideas.
So while as a visitor to ‘I Heart Carbon’ (open from April to September 2017) you will not see any reference to Rethink, its concepts are still a part of what you are seeing, and a part of what we are doing here, on the ground, at the Museum. For example, we have recently switched our gold panning heating from propane to electric.