Without further ado, here’s the first draft of my index-card manifesto. It turned out to be two index-card manifestos, with five points each: one for stuff I consider immediately urgent, and a second for what I consider longer-term goals. Feedback is welcome — nay, requested. (I’ll discuss the whole project more in a subsequent post.)


Energy efficiency: Proven techniques can get the same amount of work with 50% of the oil.

Tax/subsidy shifts: Markets should tell the ecological truth. That means shifting subsidies from industries and practices that harm us to those that help us — and doing the reverse with taxes.

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Diverse clean energy: Our economy must move from reliance on a single concentrated source of energy (oil) to reliance on a distributed array of small-scale, renewable energy sources appropriate to local conditions. That means staying within our solar budget, using wind, solar, biothermal, and hydrodynamic energy.

Electric vehicles: Flex-fuel and plug-in hybrid automobiles are necessary transition technologies, but in the long-term we need vehicles that run purely on electricity, stored either in hydrogen fuel cells or advanced batteries.

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Smart grid: The electric grid should be agnostic (accepting inputs from any source of any size), intelligent (able to apportion based on shifting demand and supply), transparent (providing data on price and supply to all consumers), and scaleable (capable of building out, or degrading, gracefully).


Green cities: Cities must be compact, serviced with robust intra- and inter-urban public transit, friendly to pedestrians and cyclists, and self-sufficient in terms of water and energy. They should also be pleasant and fun to live in.

Eco-effective manufacturing: All inputs and outputs of the global manufacturing system must be biological nutrients (biodegrade harmlessly) or technical nutrients (endlessly reusable). Close the loop.

Local agriculture: Most people must primarily consume food that has traveled less than 100 miles; cities should be ringed with organic farms and filled with micro-agriculture.

End poverty: It is possible to end global poverty in our lifetime. Only by doing so can we stabilize and eventually reduce the world’s population.

Ecological restoration: Forests must be replanted; water tables must be restored; soil must be revitalized; remaining biodiversity must be fiercely protected. Heal the earth.

Everything on this list could be accomplished for less than one year’s worth of U.S. military spending.