As a New York green contractor the truth is that our work is very much about things not in NY. Each time we salvage wood from a dumpster we aren’t saving a NY tree. We are saving a Canadian of Brazilian tree. As a company we may be acting locally but our vision is very global.
New York is the most altered place on earth by humans. It is a lost cause in terms of finding a more equal balance between humans and the other animals and plants of the world. It is not possible for the rest of the world, or even the rest of the world cities for that mater, to live like NY.
New York feeds off and depends on the vast areas of uninhabited land in the world for its survival. Everything from our exotic face creams to our millions of feet of electric cable is a drain on some part of the world, in some cases a very tragic one.
And as other cities grow New York becomes more and more an example of our salvation or our destruction. If we can find a sustainable way of living in NY, which means understanding and managing our impact on the rest of the world, then that is a great step forward.
So far our New York life style comes with a price, a price that a lot of people pay with their lives. These people either die trying to support our life style, as with the millions of people working long hours for little pay to provide us with cheap products, or they die trying to stop the destruction our lifestyle imposes on other places, as in the case of the countless human rights, environmental and political activists who are murdered because they got in the way of our endless demand for more products.
So far the overwhelming decision by New Yorkers is that the price these people paid is worth it for us. Lets be honest. We decided this by not deciding anything. Right now New York city is where thousands of trucks bring valuables into the city each day and thousands of trucks leave the city carrying our garbage. We are a massive consuming machine with huge amounts of waste.
The value we create is mostly intellectual and abstract, in the form of the finance, intellectual property and other such esoteric activities. Maybe that value balances our the tonnes of raw materials we consume, both in food, supplies and building materials.
I am not sure. I am focused on reducing our consumption in the building industry to nothing or near nothing levels. As far as I’m concerned you pick a topic and do your best to make that part of the world a better place. Anything more and you get overwhelmed and either give up or get angry, the ultimate giving up being suicide and the ultimate anger being murder, neither of which are very productive in the long term.
All this is in introduction to the following movie that is moving, beautiful and poignant. Enjoy.