Another Green World / Remembering Sascha Pohflepp

From the estimable Saul Griffith’s “If I Were Secretary of Energy”:

The first thing I would do is hire a team of DOE artists in residence. We need ideas and creativity. These artists would fulfill a role similar to the NASA art program that began in 1962 which was critical to filling the American imagination with the possibilities of space travel, the adventure, the future, the wonder. In the 50 years since Earth Day, an enormous number of column-inches have been written about our deteriorating environment (and more recently deteriorating climate) but not enough about visions for what success looks like for humanity. The DOE artists-in-residence would go to work showing us what the future of cleaner electrified building stock would look like, how much cleaner our streets and air will be with electric cars and new electric transit modes, including electric flight. We’d see verdant pictures of the future of regenerative agriculture and an even more productive carbon sequestering food system that also makes more space for wildness and national park and recreation areas. You might find it odd that the first thing I’d do at DOE is make art, but this is critical, we need a shared vision of where we are going, one of abundance and success and of the U.S. winning, if we are to get the popular buy-in and acceptance we need to address climate change in earnest and at scale.

Which made me think immediately of the late, great Sascha Pohflepp‘s piece from back in 2009 – The Golden Institute.

It imagines a counterfactual history of the 1980s where Jimmy Carter beats Reagan – and the USA embarks on an Apollo/Manhattan Project scale of investment in renewable energy independence.

Sascha is remembered this weekend by friends and collaborators at this event “Pohflepp in Practice”.

I’m attending the event online as I write. The talks will be recorded and archived. As the introduction by Calum Bowden and Stephanie Sherman stated – we can’t help wonder what Sascha would have made of these strange times.

I’m sure he would have brought the curiosity and vision that Saul is searching for – with a twist of humor and criticality.

Injecting humanity and humility into the technological hubris of a possible future, while maintaining an essential central optimism – which for me was his trademark.

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