March 13, 2007
Sterling on Our Cyber-Green Future. It’s Finally Here!
Last week, cyberpunk legend and current futurist, Bruce Sterling wrote a nice piece in the Washington Post about how the time of the Greens has finally arrived. While this was predicted some years back, it took a while before things kicked in high gear.
In 1998, I had it figured that the dot-com boom would become a dot-green boom. It took a while for others to get it. Some still don’t. They think I’m joking. They are still used to thinking of greenness as being “counter” and “alternative” — they don’t understand that 21st-century green is and must be about everything — the works. Sustainability is comprehensive. That which is not sustainable doesn’t go on. Glamorous green. I preached that stuff for years. I don’t have to preach it anymore, because it couldn’t be any louder. Green will never get any sexier than it is in 2007. Because, after this, brown will start going away.
Sounds like the world is finally starting to take notice. But the message isn’t so positive:
The time for action isn’t now. The time for action was 40 years ago. Today we live in a stricken world that bypassed its time for action. We have wreaked science-fiction levels of havoc on the unresisting carcass of Mother Nature. The real trouble is ahead of us.
Ah yes, yet another indication that our cyberpunked future is quickly merging with our present circumstances. One has to wonder what will happen when the impacts of our excesses start to truly affect the global economy. Sterling seems to view the Balkans as a bellweather for our global future:
Serbia may be the world’s single-greatest locale for a professional futurist. Awful things happen there faster than awful things happen anywhere else. The Balkans is a tragic region that denied stark reality, broke its economy, started multiple unnecessary wars, and basically finger-pointed and squabbled its way into a comprehensive train wreck. It suffered all kinds of pig-headed mayhem, all unnecessary.
But life isn’t all bad. Sterling ends things on a high note, where he gives us a glimpse of his wonderful ability to juxtapose circumstances:
So what’s the good part? They never gave up around here. On the contrary: There’s a certain vivid liveliness in the way they’re scrambling and clawing their way out of yawning abyss. The food is great, the women dress to kill, and sometimes they even laugh and dance.
For some reason, the last line reminds me of Edger Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. We laugh and dance now, but lets just hope Prince Prospero chose his guests more wisely this time…