Hacking the Planet to save it
Paul Buchheit (Mr Gmail & FriendFeed) has a fascinating essay about Hacking being a way to find shortcuts and loopholes to success. He begins:
Every system has two sets of rules: The rules as they are intended or commonly perceived, and the actual rules (“reality”). In most complex systems, the gap between these two sets of rules is huge.
Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the truth, and discover the actual rules of a system. Once the actual rules are known, it may be possible to perform “miracles” — things which violate the perceived rules.
Can we use this spirit of hacking for environmental causes? Here’s a great example. We’ve heard that there’s a Texas-sized garbage patch floating somewhere in the pacific. Yes, using fewer of those convenient but non-biodegradable plastic bags would be a good idea. But wouldn’t an even better idea be to figure out how to make these bags biodegradable? That’s exactly what a teenager figured out.
SuperFreakonomics seems to have riled up a lot of environmentalists with the same philosophy: add hacking (they call it “geoengineering”) to the list of things we should do in addition to more established green practices (like recycling).
Let’s add more Science Fair Sponsorships to the next stimulus package we’ll be needing soon!