This is our original editorial, launched with our first issue:

Editorial, V1, #1, January 2002

Welcome to the new millennium. Welcome, also, to ECOTECTURE: The Online Journal of Ecological Design, and its message for the future.

Ours is a message of hope: The hope that, through redesigning our homes and cities, and our agricultural, transportation, production, and economic systems-and, most importantly, reconnecting spiritually with the earth-we can save the planet and ourselves from impending ecological doom.

It is our belief that humans are neither stupid nor evil, but that, mostly through historical accident, we have designed stupid and evil systems. The good news is, we can design new systems. Our systems are not "us" any more than a hammer is a hand-they are extension of ourselves, expressions of who we are and who we want to be. Just as we are free to put down a hammer and pick up a saw, we are free to change the systems that we have allowed to rule us and are destroying the planet.

The most significant results of our poorly designed economic, social, and physical support systems are global warming, mass extinction, deforestation, pollution and over consumption in the most developed countries-closely followed by overpopulation in the less developed countries. What is often overlooked, even in environmental publications, is that these conditions exacerbate each other. The real danger is that some of these conditions will enter into unpredictable synergetic relationships with one another which can create feedback loops that will accelerate environmental damage past the point of no return.

The diminishment of the so called albedo effect provides a simple example of a feedback loop. Albedo is the capacity of a surface to reflect radiation. In the case of incoming solar radiation, or insolation, the albedo of snow and ice is high, whereas that of water or dark soil is much lower.

The polar ice caps are beginning to melt as a result of global warming.

As the water or, in the case of Antarctica, land beneath the edge of the ice caps is exposed through melt off, the sun's rays, which would normally be largely reflected by the bright ice, are increasingly absorbed by the darker surfaces. The more absorption, the greater the temperature of the oceans, land, and, by conduction, atmosphere, melting even more ice. Thus, lessening the earth's albedo potential increases global warming which, in turn, further lessens the albedo potential by melting even more ice which, in its turn, more rapidly increasing global warming which then melts even more ice and so on in an accelerating feedback loop of vast proportions.

The ice-melt/dark-surface-exposure feedback loop is just one of hundreds that we are promulgating through our present, non-sustainable practices. In a related condition, global warming is thawing the permafrost tundra in arctic regions around the globe. Millions of millions of metric tons of methane gas trapped in the permafrost will be released into the atmosphere by the thawing. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gasses, so the more of it we cause to be released, the faster global warming will progress, and the faster the permafrost will melt . . .

Naturally, global warming is related to the despeciation (loss of biodiversity), and despeciation, especially deforestation, is related to many of the root causes of global warming. The point is, we are like children playing with matches in a basement full of old newspapers. We have no idea when or how these global-scale feedback loops might combine to create adverse conditions which we simply will not have the knowhow or resources to correct.

A global environmental meltdown is not a scenario of the future, but a reality of the present. We have already entered the era of ecological and, by implication, social, economic and political disaster-ask any of the one-and-a-half billion people planet wide who are currently subsisting below the United Nations' rather austere standards for minimal life support.

The solutions, we at ECOTECTURE believe, are found in the emerging field known broadly as ecological or sustainable design. We need to re-design our habitation, transportation, and production systems using natural ecosystems as a model. The operating principles of ecosystems have sustained life on the planet for over three billion years while what we are doing is clearly unsustainable. Our magazine is about how designers all over the world are using the operating principles of natural ecosystems to design and build human systems. Our contention is that when a critical mass of such systems is conceived, designed, and implemented, humanity as a whole will make a quantum leap to new spiritual, economic, social, and fiscal order-a new paradigm rooted in ecology. Our role at ECOTECTURE is to discover, evaluate, organize and publish the information needed to create that paradigm.

ECOTECTURE will focus on aspects of the ecological design field such as the re-design of cities for better ecological performance, sustainable agriculture, ecological housing, and alternative energy. Our focus will be on solutions that are already in place on a small scale, such as water recycling systems and intentional communities, and new developments in the field such as hydrogen-fuel cells, geographic information systems, and the internet. Whenever possible, we will give our reports a human face by interviewing a leading ecological designer. We will also sponsor a forum where our readers can share ideas, designs, and the results of their experiments.

Foolishly optimistic or not, we believe that by following nature's practices we can still reverse the march toward destruction and enter an era of harmonious relationship between humans and their home planet. This theory is untested, and perhaps we are wrong. Perhaps it is too late, or our ways are too entrenched, our will too little. The only problem with such thinking is that it has never been true before-humanity, as a whole, has responded positively to every challenge it has encountered. That's why we are still here. Our belief is that humans are wonderful creatures, basically benevolent and more than capable of designing and implementing ecologically beneficial systems-systems that harmonize with nature and can sustain a just and peaceful human society planet wide.

The creation of the new paradigm and the physical systems that support it is a task for everyone from professional designers and city planners to homeowners growing an organic garden. Also, every bit of participation counts. Every word we speak and action we take has a ripple effect, and we never know just how far across the vast fielf of human consciousness the ripples travel.

We have therefore made it Ecotecture's mission is to give you the information you need to make the changes we all need. We will succeed only to the extent that we can inform and inspire you. The measure of our success will be the good use to which you put the information we provide.

Philip S Wenz | Publisher/Editor