ETech 09: A Greener World

Jeremy Faludi: “Priorities for a Greener World: If You Could Design Anything, What Should You Do?” From Tuesday afternoon at ETech 09.

If you could design anything, where would you do the most good? He takes us through several areas in turn.

Climate Change

In the US, the areas that contribute the most to climate change are:

  1. Buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Electricty generation
  4. Food
  5. Other Industries
    1. Chemicals
    2. Cement
    3. Paper
    4. Steel

Globally, agriculture would be much higher.

Concrete — in the Bay Area there’s a start-up making carbon negative concrete, that sequesters cabron inside it.

Walkscore — shows you how walkable your neighbourhood is.

The best solution to the waste of the paper indsutry is to eliminate the industry. This hasn’t happened yet because electronic replacements have such bad interfaces.

Species Extinction

  1. Food
  2. (see Pollution)
  3. (see Reource Depletion)
  4. (see Climate Change)

The best thing is to create higher yield food. Create more farmland.


Peak oil. But also peak minerals — we will run out of many minerals and they will all need to be recycled. Use of materials has grown massively, particularly those used for roads and buildings.

Water consumption — 70% is used for irrigation and half of that never even reaches the plants. Different foodstuffs require vastly different amounts of water.

Things most important to tackle:

  1. Buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Food (especially meat)
  4. Other industry
    1. Chemicals
    2. Paper
    3. Electronics

We should stop ghettoising vegetarians — have more items on conventional menus that just happen to not have meat in them.


The biggest problem with water pollution (in the US) is agriculture. Then sewage treatment plants, industrial discharges, spills, runoff, other pesticide applications.

Solid waste — although it’s important to recycle your own waste, municipal waste is a small proportion of all waste. Construction and Demolition is a bigger contributor. The mining industry is more than half of all solid waste. A laptop is responsible for about 40,000 pounds of waste. For every pound of steel you’re generating about seven pounds of waste. Every gramme of gold on a laptop circuit board generates about 540kg of waste.

Air pollution — Biggest pollution areas: fuel combustion, highway vehicles, miscellaneous sources, off-highway vehicles, solvent utilisation.

  1. Food
  2. Transportation
  3. Electricyt generation
  4. Buildings
  5. Chemical insutry
    1. Solvents (paint, adheisves, cleaners)
    2. Plastics

(Although the order is less clear in this area.)


Cities are a great form of birth control. He shows a chart: In some African areas, birth rates can fall if people move from vernal areas into non-slum urban areas (the fall is less great if moving to slum areas). Partly due to wealth, partly due to lack of space — less room to have more children.

Helping women have more control over their lives, education and finances reduces birth rates.

  1. Access to birth control and family planning
  2. Empowerment of women (especially in developing countries)
    • Education
    • Economic self-determination
    • Social / political equality
  3. Cities


Faludi’s suggested overall priority for what should be improved to make the world better:

  1. Cities
  2. Buildings
  3. Transportation
  4. Food / agiculture
  5. Electricity generation
  6. Family planning
  7. Empowering women
  8. Other industries
    1. Chemicals
    2. Paper
    3. Concrete
    4. Electronics

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