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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

July 1, 2008 - 8:10pm

I was out of town over the weekend, getting to know the newest member of the Rendell clan. My new niece -- two weeks old -- will probably be the last-born member of her generation within the extended family. Thus, there's little doubt she will get spoiled, with attention and affection if not with material goods. We should all be so lucky.

Perhaps I shouldn't envy her the future she's in the process of inheriting, but I'm enough of a pragmatic optimist to hope that the major social shifts required to create a sustainable society will have already taken root if not fully leafed out by the time she's in college. If that's true, then all that will remain will be logistical problems and a continuing need for technological refinement. Not to minimize the importance of logistical problems (good generals talk strategy, great generals talk logistics), just to acknowledge that if what remains is logistical problems, the paradigm change will already have peaked.

Put it this way -- my niece isn't going to be the source of the coming sustainability crisis. Rather, as the first-born of my generation, I stand at the cusp of the surviving folks at fault. My parents' generation (increasingly old, sightless and feeble) isn't able to contribute much to any solution. My kids' generation was raised in the old paradigm, but neither created nor perpetuates it. If there's a keystone generation which both contributed to the problem and will contribute to the solution, if there's a generation which has to undergo paradigm change in all its ghastly glory, it's the generation I represent. If you're of child-bearing (or child-rearing) age, it's your generation, too.

To paraphrase Eldridge Cleaver, if you're not changing the paradigm, you're part of the problem.

Maybe that's why Baldr made little babies so cute, so that they could inspire us old farts to change our ways.


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