McDonough: Efficiency Will Not Save Us


William McDonough is one of the greatest minds the environmental movement has to offer.  He’s the co-author of Cradle-to-Cradle, Time’s Hero for the Planet, and a recipient of the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development.  And, perhaps more importantly, he’s extremely influential.  McDonough shares ideas with compelling clarity, and listeners can’t help but pass the message along.  I had the opportunity to listen to McDonough’s keynote at West Coast Green yesterday and took down the following quotes.

“Being less bad is not being good.”

“Design is the first signal of human intention.”

“We need a new design assignment as a species.”

“The minute we talk about a child being born as a population problem, we have lost our human rights.”

“We need to design for the 10 billion that will be here, we need to design for abundance.”

“This community must focus on the bottom two billion.”

“Efficiency will not save us.”

“Growth is good.”

“The triple bottom line is stupid, when you think about it … what you want is ecological revenue.”

“Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power – economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.”

In posting these sound bites, I recognize there’s a risk that the message is distorted by the lack of context.  So feel free to share any clarifications or reflections you have from the keynote.

Credit: McDonough.

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  • Canamoshayne

    Growth is good? What kind of growth? Not cancer growth which our economy is mimicking, whether we like to think it is or not…

  • Anonymous

    Some of those sound bites do sound good, but that one that Canamoshayne latched onto is the one that negates everything else McDonough says. No, growth is not good anymore. At what point will we realize that we’re heading off a cliff. Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet should watch Dr. Albert Bartlett’s videos on the subject of growth: Boulding, an economist, said it best:”Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”

  • Roger Schroeder

    The Timothy Leary of the environmental movement. Good “ideas” that ignore physical, economic and social realities. In the end forestalling simpler methods to achieve the same end by substituting reality with the hope that a greater vision has the answer …. hmm… kind of sounds like religion.

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