We have most of the tech and ideas already – what’s needed is public awareness, and acceptance of the need for change.

It may surprise you that I see the climate and ecological crises not as environmental ones. Yes the impacts are environmental, but the sources are primarily social and economic.

We have solutions to most of our problems – great thinking like green growth (OK, some ideas are more problematic and oxymoronic than others), de-growth, a well-being economy, permaculture and ideas drawing on indigenous and ancient ways of growing, living and working. Ideas such as Just Transition, Transition Towns and a Green New Deal. It’s all good debate, and links us to issues of race, feminism, queerness and gender issues within our current system – which has been directed, made and made for men for 100s of years.

Some tech solutions are slightly mad – IPCC projections for us to stay under 1.5oC global average warming involve marvellously nutty ideas such as mass planting of monoculture trees to soak up carbon, then burn them for fuel (kinda destroys the eco-system), and giant CO2 eating machines – more production and consumption to….mitigate the production and consumption. These are tinkering with the broken system and won’t work. Even the circular economy, the darling of many designers, is doomed for the same reasons. It’s welcomed by corporations as it excuses business as usual, or creates new businesses using more resources.

Some ideas may be part of the solution: for architects Cross Laminated Timber offers concrete and steel-free structures. Building with bacteria cellulose also offers alternatives to these resource-demanding traditional materials. But all alternatives need to be examined for hidden environmental costs and unintended consequences.

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