Industrial designer Seay argues that imagination and fortitude are the keys to achieving a sustainable future.
To save the planet from environmental catastrophe, we need creative ideas, writes Seay, founder of private research lab Seay Group International. We must also act on those ideas, even if they are expensive or challenge vested interests. Regrettably, our existing institutions are ill-equipped to produce the necessary “innovative adaptations” on a global scale. Instead, Seay recommends scientists, engineers and designers pool their brainpower in a forum where even unorthodox ideas can be explored. He begins by citing research on climate change, overpopulation and other vexing issues. If nothing else, the book’s Malthusian tone will awaken readers to the urgency of these problems. A grim chapter entitled “Scientists’ predictions for the next 100 years” provides a decade-by-decade timeline that foresees a hot, crowded and disaster-prone planet unless reforms are undertaken now. Such dire warnings have long been sounded in scientific literature and the popular press, so the author makes few new contributions here. What Seay offers, though, is extensive experience developing product prototypes, so he knows a few things about creative thinking. He proposes a framework for cultivating innovation that incorporates 20th-century models of idea generationbut adds 21st-century technological advances such as computer-aided brainstorming. Seay envisions a National Center for Creative Investigation, where eggheads could combine knowledge and imagination in their quest for breakthroughs. The goal isn’t to halt industrialization but rather to harness the same human ability that ushered in modernity to combat its unintended consequences. For all his doomsaying, Seay still finds hope in the “inventive ability of man.” Tinkerers in lab coats and safety goggles are viewed as heroes who must step forward to rescue a planet in peril. Seay writes with a fist-pounding fervency, skittering through an impressive number of topics in less than 100 pages. Yet the book’s skeletal chapters and haphazard editing leave it feeling more like an outline than a fully formed text.
An enlightening eleventh-hour call for creative people to push the world away from its impending ecological tipping point.