In the quest for coal, over a million and a half acres of Appalachia have been strip-mined, whole mountains removed, trillions of gallons of toxic slurry left behind, and communities devastated. Not exactly a promising place for a new green economy to arise.
Or maybe it is.
For his startling and bold proposal to clean-up this disaster, Comprehensive Design for a Carbon Neutral World: The Challenge of Appalachia, John Todd, a research professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, won the first annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
The $100,000 prize from the Buckminster Fuller Institute was awarded in a ceremony in New York City on June 23, 2008 at the Center for Architecture.
"Dr. Todd's proposal sets forth a profound vision to heal the environmental and economic scars of the Appalachian region and a detailed strategy to build a dynamic sustainable economic basis for lasting renewal," wrote the award jury in picking his submission out of entries from around the world.
The jurors, including Vandana Shiva and William McDonough, were impressed with how Todd proposed to "use biological processes to restore degraded coal lands in Appalachia, and use the process to return atmospheric carbon to the soil," they wrote.
To develop his proposal, Toddwho was named a "Hero of the Earth," by Time Magazine in 1999drew on the concept of ecological succession. Over time, damaged land can rebuild soils, support pioneer plants and grasses, then shrubs, fast-growing trees, and finally, a mature forest. Todd has taken this classic idea of ecology and applied to the human economy.
"Deep in Nature's operating instructions is a model of future economic development," he said, "and these instructions can guide us as we seek new ways of living," in the mountainous coal-laced region that extends from Pennsylvania to Alabama.
Todd's proposal outlines four stages of
|Contact: Joshua Brown|
University of Vermont