The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00427: Six Viridian Years

Key concepts:
Greenhouse Effect, Viridian movement
Attention Conservation Notice:
There is so much going on here that even I can't pay attention to it.

It has now been six years since my San Francisco speech announcing the start of the Viridian Movement. As long-term Viridians (all fourteen of you) already know, the Viridian Movement came with a pre-announced expiration date – 2012.

We're now considerably closer to 2012 – close enough to smell it – so it's a good moment to assess our progress and see how close we are to that glorious moment when Viridianism shutters its windows.

To the casual observer, these may seem bleak times for Viridian aims, what with the world's only superpower gone hog-wild over military adventurism while studiously ignoring soaring CO² levels. For longer-term activists, however, this can be seen as "intensifying the contradictions."

The invisibility of the Greenhouse was a serious menace – but in 2004, climate change is major news. The spinmeisters who had this problem under wraps have had to extend their propaganda skills to practically every aspect of American society. They're not merely in organized denial about the Greenhouse Effect, but about every political issue of consequence.

They do okay for themselves with the domestic US audience, but nobody else anywhere believes a word they say. Either the current Administration and its handlers are amazingly right-minded and surefooted while the 94% of the planet is delusional, or else they're maintaining a paper-thin, cynical deceit that is likely to rupture, not just in limited, manageable, plausibly deniable ways, but 1989-style, in a comprehensive loss of credibility.

This rupture may take a while, but the status quo is doomed.

Let me namecheck a few important harbingers here.

First, Kyoto passed.

Kyoto passed because of the opposition of the Americans, not despite that. Kyoto has become the club of civilized people who are anxious to have a diplomatic venue has no Bush Administration wreckers in it. That is a bigger geopolitical deal than Kyoto itself, because (as we Viridians have always known), Kyoto is far too feeble and modest a treaty to arrest the gathering climate havoc.

But even America can't stop Kyoto. The husk of Kyoto, which expires in 2012 anyway, is just the shell-game for the next-model global deal. No one cares any more what Americans think about that. They are over as a diplomatic force.

The American right will of course continue to resist, but they will sound ever more threadbare, paranoid and hysterical; having run out of rational arguments, they're now reduced to "faith-based Americanism." Nationalism is a swell attitude until one's citizens start dying. After that it smells like Koresh in Waco, rather than Morning in America.

Second – the smoke is rising. Thirty thousand people died of the heat in Europe last summer. That's ten times as many as the death toll in 9/11. A 9/11 attack won't happen every year. Weather violence will indeed happen every year. The Emperor's clothes are on fire.

Climate experts who once soft-pedalled their case are now perfectly aware that there's no safety or civility to be found from black spin operations, so they blatantly announce the truth, Solzhenitsyn-style. "We are moving from a warm period into the first hot period that man has ever experienced since he walked on the planet." That's the British science adviser, Sir David King, a gentleman Esso can't buy.

Third – oil is blood. In 2004, oil is universally seen as a filthy, dangerous, terroristic substance. Oil exists today in a haze of intolerable anxiety, deceit, corruption and violence. Even if the intent in invading Iraq was not a "war for oil," the Iraqi resistance and the international mujihadeen have transformed it into one.

Every oil-dominated regime with the exception of Norway is highly unstable politically. That particularly includes the oil-dominated United States. The USA has suddenly forgotten how to innovate and is politically dominated by fanatics and rentiers. That is the picture of an unstable regime.

The global mayhem over oil will never go away until oil itself goes away. Even if there are bayonets securing every streetcorner in Iraq, there is hell to pay in Equatorial Guinea, Chechnya, Venezuela, in the bank accounts of Yukos... there is smoldering, persistent, deeply rooted trouble everywhere there is oil.

Everything oil touches has turned to blood, has turned to filth, has turned to stink. The enchantment of black gold is over: from now on, it's the tar baby.

Fourth – oil costs too much. The smart money can't stay in oil. The Bush Administration money is in oil, but the Bush Administration isn't smart. Everybody touching a gasoline pump-handle knows this now. We're a sneeze away from energy crisis in a 1970s style, while the growing demand from China and India will assure that supplies stay tight for the foreseeable future. This means that alternatives will pay.

Five – there are ways out. Some alternatives do work, even when sabotaged by carbon moguls. Even George Schultz is ready to believe this. We've lived to see a day when Reagan's secretary of state agrees with Amory Lovins.

"Winning the Oil End Game" is not a great plan, but it is a plan. Something more or less like this could work, especially in smaller countries that are fearful about energy supplies and unwilling to kill Arabs to get them. States and cities that become carbon-free won't miss oil and coal any more than they miss leprosy.

Now some heartening news along the Viridian Design line.

Early Viridian Notes had a "Viridian Ranking System." This effort – I used to do it with paper and a pen – is now more or less present in a whole host of social software apps. There is vigorous experimentation here. It has become a lively area.

Almost everything I was attempting to do in 1998 is now being done better, on a larger scale, and by better-organized groups, in 2004.
Some webloggers have larger readerships than nationally-known newspapers. Granted, they are mostly cranks, but this is no fad. The Web is activism now. I may be their gray eminence, so I suppose I'm justifiably proud, but it's impossible to overemphasize how with-it these Worldchanging characters are. I hope they can manage the transition when they go from a claque of hobbyists into the big time – whatever that may be.
I prophesied for years that there would someday be a slick, elegant, designery consumer Greenness. Well, here it is, all you can buy and then some. Look at that list of "design related" sites. It is chock ablock with Viridian fellow-travellers. Bruce Mau is not kidding. This is a mover and shaker of the design world, demanding massive change. And Bruce Mau's demand is a legitimate demand. Only massive change will do. We are going to get some.

This is the dark clincher, here.

If our abuse of the atmosphere is genuinely causing the biosphere itself to spew extra CO2, then we are in for it. If that's for real, it means that every grim prognostication alarmists prophesied for 2100 will be happening within our own lifetimes. It won't be slow, if this is so. It will be fast, fast.

The going is getting weird. The weird are turning pro.

I have been asked to take a year-long guest residency, teaching design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

This school is in the Los Angeles basin, the epicenter of Southern Californian car culture, the etymological origin of the term "smog," and a metroplex that arm-wrestles Houston every year for the crown of the most polluted city in the USA. If there's a heart to the Greenhouse beast, well, it can't be far from Pasadena.

I'm taking the job. It's time to become the change we want to see.

For the year 2005, the Viridian Pope-Emperor is becoming a design professor. I have a number of ambitious developments in mind for Viridian list, because, starting January, design will become my career. I'm leaving Texas and I'm becoming Californian. For a while, anyhow.

The Pope-Emperor asks your prayers.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

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