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January 21, 2010  |  permalink

Bruce Mau’s Massive Change

From Maclean’s:

Q: So what does Bruce Mau’s world without oil look like?

A: It’s not a world without oil, but a world with an ecology of energy sources, where oil is used when it is the absolute right tool.

Q: How do we get there?

A: We’ve had 50 years of telling people to get out of their cars. In every one of those years the number of cars in the world went up. The idea that we’re going to punish or embarrass them into it has simply not worked. It’s like there was a focus group of six billion people around a table, and someone said, “Hey guys, give up your car” and they said, en masse, “No.” This is where design comes in. Ultimately, the way to solve the problem, and so many problems, is to make things cooler and sexier than the older ones. I have a friend who has a Tesla and a Ferrari. He says the Tesla is way cooler. That changes the game. We’re not telling him don’t. We’re telling him, here’s an exciting way you can do it that ultimately can be sustainable. How do we get to do the things we do without stealing from our kids or leaving a toxic legacy? And at the same time, how do we do them in such a way that is smarter and more fun than the old way?

Q: How far off is this future?

A: This is not going to be very popular with my friends, but there’s a long transitional phase. There are times when the energy density of oil makes a lot of sense. But there are lots of things we do where it’s not necessary and it has many negative effects. We can do those things so much more intelligently.

Q: What would be an example?

A: Think about flying. Producing flight takes a high density of energy. But when I’m driving from my house to pick up some milk at the corner store, the energy density doesn’t make any difference. So we’re using a tool that is super good to get an airplane off the ground to go to the corner store. The future won’t be a future without oil. It’ll be a future with 100 other things. (emphasis mine)

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

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