Ingenuity can do what leaders won’t?

In the article below it is argued that Ingenuity can create a changed world where political leadership is failing societies. Whilst in essence this is true, this Blog argues that to do this ‘ingenuity needs to be liberated’ to enable change and as there is an ‘Ingenuity Gap, it needs to be liberated in a focused way – to reduce the resource intensity of the goods and services we consume.

This requires political focus on our addiction to enable this transformation, through legislation, research and education. The portents for facing this reality do not seem good this Christmas.

As in this article and L Hunter Lovins’ article, Rethinking Production, the focus is also on the physical creation of goods, but much of our resource expenditure is in organisational management. At a systems level the two are interwoven and mutually dependent in quality theory.


Ingenuity can do what leaders won’t

Jo-Anne Schofield
December 23, 2008

……………………………………..In their upbeat book Cradle To Cradle, published almost five years ago, William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in favour of human ingenuity. They remain optimistic about our capacity to bring about a new industrial revolution. They argue the last industrial revolution was built on brute force and plundering the planet, but the next one can honour “diversity, ecosystems, and societies”, by finding new ways of fulfilling our human desire to live good (and sustainable) lives.

L. Hunter Lovins looks at eco-efficiency in a recent essay, Rethinking Production. She gives the example of the chemical giant DuPont, which last year saved $3 billion by cutting its emissions by 72 per cent compared with 1991 levels, while reducing its global energy use by 7 per cent. “Every year,” Lovins says, “the world digs up, puts through various resource crunching processes, and then throws away over a half-trillion tons of stuff.” Stuff that costs money and scarce resources.

The clear message is that we need to invest deeply in new ways of doing things, with or without government leadership. There’s nothing to stop our workplaces and industries from having a sustainability plan – one where securing jobs and industry into the future is about protecting the environment and not just reliant on purchasing highly taxpayer subsidised permits to offset today’s old-style polluting ways of doing things.

Jo-Anne Schofield is executive director of Catalyst Australia, a progressive think tank.

L Hunter Lovins’ essay ‘Rethinking Production’ can be found in ‘State of the World 2008’ available for download at


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