INTERVIEW: We Talk to Futurist Melissa Sterry About Earth 2.0 and the Bionic City

by , 04/22/13

Futurist, biomimicry, Melissa Sterry, Earth 2.0, Earth 2 Hub, Bionic City, green design, social media, sustainable design, eco-design, technology

INHABITAT: So, what are one or two of the major reasons, in your view, that humanity has been relatively slow to reverse some of our most environmentally-destructive actions, and how does Earth 2.0 target those particular obstacles?

Melissa Sterry: I think there are two major isses at play that have held humanity’s progress on sustainability back. I think the first is our heriditary psychological predisposition. Several years ago I came to a conclusion – that the only logical explanasion for why humanity was not acting on a greater scale to tackle key environmental and social problems, was that we are neurologically programmed to see things ‘sunny side up’ i.e. present us with us with information that implies an outcome that we don’t like and we will downsize or irradicate the scenario from our minds. The idea that most people see things from a rose-tinted perspective is backed-up by several recent studies by institutions including Oxford University and could explain some of the responses we’ve seen (or not seen!) to climate change and other key sustainability issues. Thus I believe we need to frame sustainability in the context of building a better future, as opposed to presenting dystopian visions of what may happen if we don’t do certain things.

Secondly I think we need more inspirational leadership in sustainability – we need JFK’s and Martin Luther Kings – people with the vision, the belief, the determination that we can and will build a better world. In the 1960s we made it to the Moon. In the 21st century we will and we can build a brighter future.

INHABITAT: So, let’s say I was a design specialist and I had some really good ideas about zero carbon, zero waste cities, would I be encouraged to share those ideas through your creative platform? And would there will be a way for me to apply my ideas in the real world?

Melissa Sterry: Yes. There are various ways in which individuals can contribute their ideas and these include participating in our social media converations, including #Earth2Chat’s on Twitter, posting to our Facebook page, contributing comments on our site and submitting blog posts. Beyond this we are working with partners to develop digital vehicles through which specialists in fields including film, animation, design and science can submit ideas for promotion across both our own and partner platforms.

INHABITAT: I guess I’m feeling the need for action. Action that will make a measurable difference that translates to real changes on the ground (cleaning up waste, saving energy, improving the quality of life for more people.) How will participating in Earth 2.0 Hub create these kinds of results?

Melissa Sterry: Earth 2 Hub isn’t making such grand claims as ‘we’ll save the world’. We wont save the world. What we can and are doing is bringing together some of the most talented storytellers – scriptwriters, film directors, animators, cinematrographers, etc, to inject their expertise for storytelling into sustainability and science. Until now many exciting developments have been presented in unimaginative, in some cases downright dull, formats, therein it’s no wonder Joe Public was, on the whole, left unmoved.

AVATAR – a science fiction film, illicited a greater response to environmental issues than many of the factual films about similar issues and did so not through scientific accuracy, but through creativity. While we don’t have the resources of James Cameron, we embrace his approach – that the most effective call to action involves firing up people’s imagination!

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