THERE’S NOT MUCH of a laugh to be had on the topic of global warming but American futurist Bruce Sterling does his best. Sterling’s weapon is satire; his tools include the blog and the after-dinner speech. In his “Viridian Manifesto” (Whole Earth, Summer 1999), Sterling calls on artists and designers to join in resistance to the forces of global warming. Viridian, for Sterling, is both an aesthetically pleasing shade of green, and also the colour of Big Mike, the Viridian mascot, a micro-organism that, in death, decays and does the elegant recycle thing. The Viridian movement is a niche inhabitant of the wider green scene, one devoted to taking the mickey out of the pronouncements of the military-industrial establishment while promoting good design as one useful response to the global warming challenge.[i]
While they may not yet have brought the establishment to its knees, contributors to the Viridian website exhibit a ferocious lateral thinking that is refreshing in these post-Montreal days of political posturing while Rome burns. The Viridian movement, Sterling says, is all about “creating irresistible demand for a global atmosphere upgrade”. A quixotic enterprise, this task may well be doomed (Sterling is no optimist), but it foregrounds the flip side to all technology upgrades: their wider impact on the atmosphere which, by its nature, is a global entity.
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