Part THREE of a three-part series.
Page 2 of 2
continued. . .

ECOTECTURE: That makes sense. When you first said it, I thought, well, they should know more about—and I said why do they need a Harvard professor to help us figure this out? Now that makes a lot of sense.

CAPRA: Right. If you want to know more about that, you should really interview Zenobia or other people from the Center for Ecoliteracy, because they have the detailed knowledge.

ECOTECTURE: I probably will at some point down the line. A similar issue, a similar problem occurred to me—the problem we were just discussing (Capra Interview, Part II) about the business community and business people being stuck and having trouble getting out of their box. That is also true in many ways of the scientific community and a complaint, if you will, of yours, and of mine as well, going back to many, many years, is that reductionist biology research, as opposed to systems-thinking biology, is getting all the funding. Biologist Lynn Margolis (world famous for her Gaia theory and numerous books) has complained about the funding that is going away from her work and that of her colleagues. Have you seen any positive trends there, just in terms of funding, in the universities? Have you had any experience with that? What do you think is a way to crack that nut?

I would work with people
who are already halfway
convinced and who need
some help . . . rather than
going into the bastions of
reductionism and genetic
Darwinism and right-wing
politics and Christian
fundamentalism. I don't
deal with those people.


CAPRA: I'm not really so much connected with any university. I'm much more independent now. I teach occasionally at universities but I don't have any tenured position anywhere in any academic institution. So I'm not dependent on funding and I really don't know too much about it.

ECOTECTURE: Okay, good. My question wasn't about you so much as just in general whether you thought —I guess it's maybe another way to put it, because you do mention funding as one of the many issues in one of the last chapters of Hidden Connections —it's not all only funding but just a general question of how do you go to somebody who's a convinced reductionist biologist or a convinced genetic determinist and get them to shift their view. Is there a way to work with that—or do you just hope that eventually they'll—?

CAPRA: I can tell you that I made the decision many years ago that I would not do that. Instead, I would work with people who are already halfway convinced and who need some help. This is typically my audience and my readership, people who already have seen where they should go, but don't quite know the details and how to change and what to do. I can do a lot of good in helping people, giving them information and knowledge and networking them with other people and organizations, rather than going into the bastions of reductionism and genetic Darwinism and right-wing politics and Christian fundamentalism. I don't deal with those people.

ECOTECTURE: Okay. I think that makes a lot of sense. Which again would bring me to …

CAPRA: It's again strategic thinking, what you want — you have to choose your battles, you know. You can't conquer everything.

ECOTECTURE: …where are you going to put your energy? I'm the same way myself. I could be designing a solar house here, a solar house there and I've decided that it's better for me to put my energies into a Web site that will help a million people learn how to design a solar house.

What's your assessment of the current world situation in terms of sustainability of the human and biospheric ecosystem as we know it? Do you think we'll have a planet-wide cataclysm before we can form a new order based on ecological design principles, or that there will be a rapid and almost sudden emergence of a coalition of green forces, somewhat akin to the collapse of the Soviet Union?


It's again strategic
thinking, what you want—
you have to choose your
battles, you know. You
can't conquer everything.

CAPRA: Well, the coalition of green forces is certainly happening, and it's a worldwide coalition. Against it at the moment is really the politics of the United States, which goes in a diametrically opposite direction toward excessive material consumption, waste of resources and energy, pollution, excessive oil consumption, war and violence, bullying the whole world, a fundamentalist attitude of black and white distinguishing between the good guys and the bad guys, seeing terrorists as evil forces operating in a vacuum rather than seeing the underlying conditions that make people become terrorists. So I think the whole administration of this country, the whole leadership is diametrically opposed to what we really need.

The situation is very dramatic at the moment. On the other hand, we have this very strong coalition of worldwide forces working for ecological design and sustainability, and it may be that the Bush administration may fall flat on its face because of the collapse of the economy, which is now artificially propped up by international investors because the dollar is the international currency in which people and organizations have their money invested. But the Euro is now as strong as the dollar and if the world shifts to Euro from dollars, then the American economy will collapse like a house of cards, and then Bush and his oil men will fall flat on their faces and not be reelected and things may change dramatically. Or we may have a catastrophe that will change things dramatically. Or it may change gradually, or it may not change. So we really don't know.

ECOTECTURE: We don't know. I think something is going to change, because we can't keep doing what we've been doing, obviously. Something's got to give —

CAPRA: Absolutely. It's a question of the next five, ten, twenty years.

ECOTECTURE: My own experience—I wouldn't say experience but my own thinking—because I've seen this happen before, is that we get a diversity building, building but it may stay below the surface for a while and then suddenly there will be be an emergence. It follows the emergence of a new form in biology. It will probably come as a surprise even to the people who are involved in it.

. . . you know this
hydrogen technology,
the shift to the hydrogen
economy, will accelerate


CAPRA: Well, for example, you know this hydrogen technology, the shift to the hydrogen economy, will accelerate. There's no doubt about that.

For example, Toyota just recently announced that within the next 10 years, all their cars will be hybrids. Now that's a huge influence on the car market, on the automobile industry. So if Toyota does that, the other car companies will have to follow suit. Just from driving a hybrid electric car, I can see that when I drive in city traffic and stop at an intersection, the engine stops and there's really no need you should have your engine running when the car is not moving, right? So this technology is really superior. Then it starts up with the battery, and this mix of electric and gasoline, which in the future will be electric and hydrogen, this mix kicks in. When you brake, the energy feeds back from the braking into the battery and again—the engine doesn't run. So that's really a superior technology, and eventually all the car companies will adopt it because it's superior, just as we all switched to computers from typewriters, or from vinyl to CDs and so on.

These are just technological achievements that have their own conviction. Now if that happens, just with Toyota switching to hybrid electric and say if they take along Nissan and Ford and Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, Daimler-Chrysler, and BMW — just some of the big car companies — and I leave out General Motors because I just read that the CEO of General Motors doesn't believe in hybrid electric cars. But if just a few car companies shift, then the bulk of American cars will be so fuel-efficient that we don't need Middle Eastern oil. The whole Middle East politics will just completely change, so things like that—technological changes—will happen.

You know one of my favorite quotes from the Eco designers is that the Stone Age did not end because people ran out of stones. It ended because they developed superior technologies. In the same way, our petroleum age will end not because we're running out of oil but because we have developed superior technologies. So as these technologies come on line, this will be tremendous change. The question now is about timing — will it come in time or will it be too late, that is the big question.

ECOTECTURE: And there is no way that you—do you have a—want to take a shot at it?

CAPRA: No way I can predict, no.