Kevin and Alex discuss how Divergent 3D technology enables small teams, and how additive manufacturing is the new technology base for the 21st century. This should help tackle the pressing problems of deindustrialization and the environmental crisis.
Click here to read more.
Although 97% of scientists agree that climate change is a real and present danger, the U.S. government has not been treating it as an emergency. Quite the opposite; our political bodies seem strangely reticent to act. Moreover, despite being a matter of facts, figures, and rising tides, there is a strong partisan divide. The canned answer is that humans are simply too short-sighted, selfish, and greedy. Yet people have mobilized before (with both citizens and companies rationing during WWII, for instance), and further, we are currently facing austerity measures in the form of cuts to many public programs, including schooling. We are already making sacrifices.
So why are we failing to act on climate change?
While Divergent is by no means a political group, understanding the world of politics surrounding climate change is important to our mission. We aim to improve the planet by making incredible products. Our technology will be implemented by those people best equipped to make positive changes.
In Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, she unpacks some of the thornier realities underlying the environmental movement. The underlying thesis: in order to effectively battle global warming, we have to majorly restructure our current societal set-up. This would involve confronting big corporations and big money individuals, empowering disenfranchised countries and peoples, and letting the needs of the environment and local economies trump free market capitalism. In other words, when conservatives argue that the green movement’s hidden agenda is wealth distribution, they are only half wrong. According to Klein successful programs would require the privileged few to relinquish some of their power.
For those who won’t acknowledge the failures of our current laissez-fare system, there are many reasons to deny climate change. Some deniers accept that it may be getting warmer, but denigrate rash action and insist that our small emissions problem may be curbed by gradual, system-sanctioned means. Emissions restriction policies are too often rendered immediately moot by the doctrine of continual GDP growth and by the fact that corporations can easily buy their way out, game the market, or otherwise avoid penalties. Serious change is needed, Klein maintains.
Even green groups have fallen into the trap of inadvertently working to uphold the interests of corporations. While the 60s and 70s saw everything from the Clean Air Act (1963) to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976), Ronald Reagan’s presidency ushered in an ideological shift. Accustomed to being political insiders, activists scrambled to continue as such. As a result, coal and oil companies now sponsor the most important summits of many groups, which in turn invest their own wealth in these same players. In one particularly egregious conflict of interest, the Texas City Prairie Preserve ended up drilling for oil on its own property despite the decline and eventual die off of the bird it was trying to protect.
Siphoning off responsibility to benevolent billionaires and scientists developing high tech fixes is also no good. Just as no corporation wants to limit its business, no billionaire wants to lose money. Meanwhile, high tech fixes are extremely high risk. For instance, an initiative to block out the sun by simulating the activity of a volcano would interrupt the Asian and African summer monsoons. The resulting draughts would effect billions of people. The winner? Wealthy westerners who could buy their way out of any problems.
Luckily not all hope is lost. While top-down environmentalism is floundering, grassroots movements are gaining traction. “Blockadias” or areas involved in direct resistance are cropping up everywhere from Greece to Inner Mongolia. Typically, response from governments and corporations in such cases is brutal. For instance, the Nigerian government reacted to protests by torturing residents and razing villages; in one instance soldiers conducted lethal raids using a helicopter taken from a Chevron operation. However, the number and effectiveness of protests is growing as citizens gain knowledge and corporations are forced to expand their reach to include places with more political power.
While many local protestors may not have much political experience, the feel connected to their land and often view it as essential to their way of life. Meanwhile, a coalfield worker Klein interviewed said he trained himself to think of the Powder River Basin as “another planet” that he could raid without consequence. Coalitions of rights-rich-but-cash-poor people are teaming up with (relatively) cash-rich-but-rights-poor people to effect change. Aboriginals are finding help from the green movement; treaties against land contamination are now being upheld more regularly. Despite minimal government assistance, local people are winning victories.
Klein presents her arguments in a compelling way, peppering hard facts with personal anecdotes. Her descriptions of the plight of ordinary people faced with climate change are at turns heartbreaking and inspiring. Divergent believes that its technology can contribute to this local, personal green movement, leading to a more even playing field for anyone concerned about their land and their way of life.
When my father told me about his idea for Divergent, I felt more than supportive: I felt inspired and driven to help him succeed. My father has had more than one ambitious project over the years, but this was the first time I felt that his idea wasn’t just cool but could work to make the world a better place in a radical way, both for humans and the other creatures who share it.
As someone with a basic affinity for breathing and real love for flora and fauna, the environment has always been important to me. In fact, when I was a child, I considered a day wasted if I didn’t spend 90% of it outside in a tree like some strange human/monkey hybrid. Unfortunately, as many of you know, in the millennia since our ancestors descended from that primordial foliage and started producing iPhones and Diet Coke cans, we’ve developed some truly unsavory habits, consuming resources at an unsustainable rate and causing climate change. Considering the sad fact that we can’t just grow the planet larger at will, dematerialization (using fewer resources) is the best way to avoid catastrophe. Cars are one of the most polluting assets we own, so building one for a fraction of the environmental damage makes a real, potentially life-saving difference.
While the prospect of saving our beloved ecosystem instantly captured my attention, as my dad and I continued talking, I also grew to appreciate the small-business aspect. Someone pointed out that the cost of opening a microfactory is roughly the same as that of opening a microbrewery. With this financially feasible plan, more people will be empowered to be entrepreneurs, leading to more job creation. Large corporations wouldn’t have to rule the roost. Innovation and creativity could bloom. Vehicles previously considered too niche to be produced would find a place on the open road. Greener technologies could be developed more easily, creating a feedback loop far more encouraging than the one involved in the melting of the polar ice caps.
I was sold.
In fact, I was sold enough to ask my father if there was a way for me to contribute. Since I studied theater in college, engineering or technical work was out of the question; however, we soon landed on the idea of starting a blog. Fabulous. Since I am very interested in learning more about our environment, our economy, and how the Divergent philosophy of dematerialization and democratization fits in with these two concepts, and since I love reading almost as much as love having a planet to live on, I thought the blog could consist primarily of book reviews. Every week, I plan to read a piece of relevant literature (often literature that inspired my father), and tell you what it’s about and how Divergent might fit into its framework or jive with its argument.
With any luck Divergent will be about more than just car manufacturing. It could be an environmental and ideological movement. But in order to be a movement, we need context and reasons to care—though of course there will always be those who will buy in just because the product is amazing (and that’s alright too).
The current approach to manufacturing is expensive, wasteful, and energy-intensive; it hurts our environment as well as our economy. When it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to start a car factory, innovation becomes impossible. As we triple the number of cars on the road in the next thirty to forty years, the conventional approach is not sustainable. (more…)