The paradigm shift

Nearly 30 years ago I remember reading The Turning Point by Fritjof Capra and The Reenchantment of the World by Morris Berman. These were just a few of the landmark books which were exposing the new thinking, primarily focusing on a holism or a systems viewpoint. As a student studying architecture new ways of thinking were debated and explored; how could architecture improve society, the rich and poor?

Volumes can be written on this subject, the following are just a few immediate thoughts:

The debt crises we have experienced is another symptom of the old culture of corporate power and profit, even when the model is unsustainable.  In the future western industrialized nations may be remembered for their power and subsequent failure of the Cartesian paradigm.  High growth remains the goal for the developed economies. Unless a sustainable systems approach is adopted maintaining a 0% growth rate may be the norm for the developed economies in the future.

What will we call the next paradigm, perhaps the solar age, the age of reflection or the age of free internet?

It is interesting the Biomimicry movement has become very popular refer ( In a similar way the ancient cultures such as the American red Indians and our Khoisan lived a generally peaceful life in tune and in harmony with their environment. The new paradigm is pointing us back to our roots of balanced living in our immediate and global environment.

In Africa we are becoming wealthier with a little more stability but the wealthy are increasing and the underprivileged are remaining poor. Africa is at the threshold of becoming the focus for the next large growth region, but at what cost? Perhaps a sustainable path for Africa would be to concentrate on the development of strong local communities where self determination is easily achievable. We need to think globally and act locally.

Immediate concerns are the development of renewable resources. It is interesting that oil; the current resource providing energy for transportation will be too expensive to extract economically by 2050. OK, so we can have electrical modes of transport, which use energy very effectively. The main problem is aeroplanes, where no technology exists to efficiently fly on solar power. So perhaps we need to reserve what oil is left for flying! There are obstacles but new technologies are rapidly being developed. Other concerns are different forms of tax, global and regional leadership and protection of our precious water resources.

Next: African solutions.

Written by

Ken is a member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), and is a Green Star SA Accredited Professional. He has also been a member of the Technical Working Group in the development of the Multi Unit Residential Technical Manual for the GBCSA, and is thus actively involved in current discourse and innovation concerning sustainability.

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