John Harrison's Philosophy about Sustainability

We are now the weathermakers[1] and must seriously embrace the role of planetary engineering. My company TecEco have been pioneering this new responsibility developing Gaia Engineering.

I believe that our approach to sustainability must be holistic. i.e. a bit like dieting. The pain of either dieting or exercise is less if one does both. So it is with progress towards sustainability - reductions in energy usage as well as massive sequestration, less rubbish (e.g. packaging) as well as new uses for it are required. Improvements in energy use efficiency have been relatively popular as they save money. The harder task I am addressing is how to get the CO2 out of the air.

Changes in the technology paradigms defining our techno-world can deliver more sustainable outcomes. New processes that deliver the same utility with less linkage to the geosphere-biosphere must be developed. If durable materials for example incorporated carbon as a basic component as well as many wastes for their physical property then an important, high volume component of the techno-process would require carbon and waste making both resources. In this way we could mimic nature and consume much more carbon and with complementary reductions in energy usage, potentially one day consume all the carbon we produce, leading to reduced linkages with the geosphere-biosphere. We can do all this but only if it is driven by sound economics.

Processes that sustainably deliver the same utility will succeed if economic. The technology paradigm defines what is or is not a resource in an economic system that drives materials flows through the techno-process. By harnessing basic human psychology through cultural change to achieve greater demand for sustainable outcomes delivered by evolving and changing techno-processes that sustainably deliver cost effective solutions economics will define more sustainable molecular[2] flows. To be economic new technologies that define more sustainable materials flows and thus these underlying molecular flows must result in increased utility for the ultimate human beneficiaries in a system that without inefficient regulation does not recognize externalities.

As we generally perceive ourselves to be the ultimate beneficiaries of our economic if not our entire existence then sustainable materials flows in the techno-process must also be more economic. Put simply, sustainability must be economic or is itself not sustainable.

The TecEco Tec-Kiln, Tec, Eco and Enviro-Cements will have a major role in changing the technical paradigms, in proving that sustainability can be economic and thus achievable.

Albert Einstein

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings and something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is itself part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Mahatma Gandhi

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Albert Einstein

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.


printer friendly

[1] Flannery, T. (2005). The Weather Makers. Melbourne, Text Publishing and Flannery, T. (2006). We Are The Weather Makers. Melbourne, Text Publishing.

[2] Moleconomics is the study of the form of atoms in molecules, their flow, interactions, balances, stocks and positions. What we take from the environment around us, how we manipulate and make materials out of what we take and what we waste result in underlying molecular flows that affect earth systems. These flows should mimic or minimally interfere with natural flows.