Protecting the First World Wide Web

Post 4 in the series by Ken Jones

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“Branding Concerns for the Earth”


What do you call it? The state of natural affairs today, and our vision for our future?

Long before the advent of the World Wide Web of the internet, there was a different internet, a different World Wide Web. It is known as the Web of Life. The Web of Life is huge, diverse, extremely interdependent, and important. It is important to us because we depend upon it for our very lives. We call what we take from the Web of Life, “Natural Resources”. These natural resources include the air we breath, the materials with which we build our homes and cities, and all of our food. Natural resources produce our clothing, transportation, our conveniences and our entertainment. In less than two hundred years humankind has moved from the Agrarian Age into the Industrial Age, through to the Space & Technology Age and into the Information Age. Human world population has grown in that time from 1 billion to over 7 billion people. Standards of living for many has skyrocketed – all consuming more and more natural resources.

The problem of consumption is huge and complicated. We have come through a period of environmental movements and campaigns to try to address the wrongs. Establishing the world’s first National Parks, pesticide pollution awareness and the banning of DDT, Earth Day born of Oil Spills, the Clean Air Act to fight smog, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Greenpeace and Sea Shepard fight illegal fishing and whaling. More than half of the world’s rain forests have been consumed, much of it illegally. World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and many, many others try to save biodiversity “Hotspots” and severely endangered species in dealing with what is now being called, the 6th Mass Extinction. Pick your issue and you will find hundreds of organizations working to better the situation. There are also hundreds of issues, all important, all connected to the others, all parts of the web.

A generation of conservation spokespeople are nearly gone from the public forum due to retirement and death: Rachael Carson, Marlin Perkins, Steve Irwin, Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough, and many more. They have been the outspoken advocates of nature to the general public, delivering the message of caring for the earth, but falling short of turning around civilization’s march towards the cliff.

Finally, it has caught up to us. The first dramatic, catastrophic, in-your-face evidence has been climate change, with its costly storm damage, visibly shrinking glaciers and ice caps, and ever more extreme weather patterns of droughts, fires, floods, and hurricanes, endangering human lives. Mass extinctions of animal and plant life are now underway- the flip side of the same coin. These accelerating species extinctions represent the tearing of holes in the Web of Life – resulting in great losses to us in natural resources, food and medicine. Our acidifying oceans are nearly empty of fish and full of trash. Our lands and streams are daily polluted with oil spills, and the bosom of the earth itself is being pumped full of toxic chemicals, endangering fresh ground water and causing earthquakes in the name of fracking for gas.

We have been using up too much of the earth, and spoiling the rest.

Nature has had enough and is demanding we change our ways. It’s not the earth that is in danger, but life on earth that certainly is. We have finally done enough damage in so many ways, that the consequences are about to become inescapable for humankind. Finally, after decades of talking about it, we are going to have to deliberately, promptly, and fundamentally change our societies to embrace sustainability. New clean energy sources, new foods, new ways of developing and harvesting resources, and new, smarter and kinder ways of sharing this planet with all living things are required, if we are to survive.

This will surely mean leaving behind our dirty fuels, our polluting ways, and our wasteful habits. Our shameful treatment of animals in factory farms, entertainment, hunting, and eating meat may come to an end, as we care more about animal welfare. Greed will have to be confronted, along with rampant income inequality. Perhaps we will learn to love our new roles, instead of clear-cutting destroyers of natural forests, as loving gardeners of Eden. This is the first time in human history that we will be remaking civilization by our own intelligent design. Rather than slowly evolving through a series of accidents, inventions, and developments, humankind will have to create a clear vision and make a thoughtful leap to a different track- a track to truly sustainable development. This is an exciting time!

A new vision of what it means to be a member of human civilization on this earth has to be promoted. But right now that picture is badly muddled with so many details, so many facets- concerns about hydrology, geology, zoology, botany, ecology, animal rights, indigenous people’s rights, and on and on.

During the recent political election I came across a list of the concerns from voters. One of the biggest questions in politics is always, “What are the priorities of the voters today?” All of the issues had pretty good branding. They could be represented in two or three words. Words that were positive – or at least not negative. In some cases the words represent a picture, a visual image of the goal, like, “marriage equality”, “racial equality”, “climate justice”, “reproductive rights”, “affordable education”, and so on. While “climate change” often made the list, it lacks something in the way of a positive image of the future. Wildlife preservation and sustainable use of resources were missing from the lists I read. We have a branding problem.

We require a brief positive vision of the future to create good branding on this issue. While personally I have come up with a couple of slogans I like, such as “Save endangered species, because without nature, nothing survives”, and “Animals Need More Friends”, I haven’t yet found the right combination of words that provides the branding handle we need to compete in the evening news with those other concerns. So what do you think? Can you help us develop a brand for repairing, protecting, and nurturing the First World Wide Web?

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