activism design sustainability

Happy Energy: A logo for an emerging global culture

It’s cheerful, easily identifiable, and it’s the brainchild of the first Dutch astronaut – it’s the Happy Energy logo.

Here’s the idea: There’s currently a global movement towards positive cultural change, towards a fairer, cleaner, more sustainable world. It’s happening slowly, across thousands of organisations and community groups, and it has no central identifying force. As the Happy Energy folks point out, “there is no global sustainability logo in the world to identify this culture change”.

The logo isn’t a badge or a certification, like the Fairtrade marque. It’s more of a banner to rally around, a meme, a visual statement of alliance. If I get the gist of it, it’s a kind of symbol of shared hope. Which means that if you like it, you can use it. “Our Happy Energy symbol is like the sun” says aforementioned astronaut Wubbo Ockels. “It’s free and available for everyone.”

If that sounds a little vague, consider the power of some other iconic symbols. The Ichthus, or ‘Jesus fish’ may now be the province of bumperstickers and bookmarks, but it was once a secret symbol worthy of a Dan Brown mystery. It was graffitied on walls as an identifier, a statement of belief, and a symbol of defiance.

That kind of symbol evolves and catches on. Creating an iconic symbol from scratch is a different matter, but it can be done. The symbol for peace on the left here is now almost universally recognised, but it was created in 1958 for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It combines the semaphore signals for N and D for ‘nuclear disarmament’, but also represents an olive branch or two outstretched hands. It works, it’s simple, and it has taken on a life of its own well beyond it’s nuclear origins.

So can you create something similar for sustainability? It’s a nice idea, not least because ‘sustainability’ is a somewhat clunky and misused word – but it’s also quite a rich one. It is derived from the old French word ‘sustenir’, meaning to hold up or endure, and I like the connotations of patience and endurance. It’s the same root as the word ‘sustenance’ – the means of sustaining life.

I agree with Happy Energy that there is a new culture emerging, one that they sum up as “the necessary follow-up to the industrial revolution. A culture that stands for social justice and respect for nature.” I think it’s feasible to sum up those hopes in a single image, although whether or not this is the one that will catch on is anybody’s guess. It’s certainly colourful and simple, but it is rather reminiscent of the shallow hippy notion of ‘flower power’. It also reminds me of Ikea. But then I’m pretty certain that I couldn’t come up with anything better.

What do you think? Can there be one symbol for sustainability? And is this it?

34 comments

  1. Unlike the Ichthus and the CND logo, the Happy Energy logo isn’t all that easy to hand draw, and I think that’s likely to hinder its ability to catch on.

  2. What is with the “OK” next to the flower?

    I’m not sure that “Happy Energy” is a good name for this “brand”. It also is a bit too chirpily hippy. Given that the movement already has a symbol, namely, the colour green (which is probably one of the most widely recognised pieces of branding ever, being very simple, readily recognisable across cultures, intimately linked to the movement and attractive (who can be against chlorophyll?)), then it would seem that the obvious choice for a logo would be a tree.

    1. I was wondering what the ‘ok’ was for. It appears to be on some incarnations of the logo and not on others, so I’m not sure what it adds. I’ve got a feeling this won’t be going anywhere as an idea…

  3. “There’s currently a global movement towards positive cultural change, towards a fairer, cleaner, more sustainable world. It’s happening slowly, across thousands of organisations and community groups, and it has no central identifying force. ”

    Actually you guys may be too young to remember how bad things were just forty years ago.

    The modern environmental movement is losing support, because it is losing its way.

    When I was a kid, water and air were much dirtier than they are today. The very first ‘National Scenic Riverway’ in the US was a yearly destination for my Boyscout troop. We would spend a week each summer hauling trash out of the river. Car parts, cans, refrigerators etc… The locals had used it as a dump for generations. Today, the scout leaders cannot even get the kids out for a paperdrive. I actually went and discussed this issue with the local headquarters. I was shocked when the regional scout representative told me that unlike my generation, his kids would rather play video games or hang at the mall.

    It took years of trips to get that river clean, and today the kids that float have no idea how hard we worked or how far we have come bringing back a lost natonal treasure. The major city that I am nearest was in my 7th grade textbook as an example of horrific smog. We haven’t had measurable smog in decades.

    One of the biggest issues with modern environmentalists, is that they do not give my generation credit for the hard choices, work and sacrifices we made to bring about a better world.

    I am and old school environmentalist and have an extremely small carbon footprint considering my 80 mile daily commute to the city. I am in the process of restoring prairie grasses on my property and have returned 33% of my acreage to nature. If successful with the prairie grass it will eventualluy cover over 80%. I recycle to the point of not needing garbage pickup, and no, I do not burn trash (nasty!). I built an extremely efficient home 10 years ago and just replaced my old roof with an energy efficient metal roof (hail damage helped pay for it, twice the cost of a standard roof).

    I also maintain multiple bird houses and multiple feeders. At peak hummingbird season I go through over a gallon of nectar a day. (You’re welcome South America.)

    Where once was baren farmland, I have returned native flora and fauna, with no government assistance. It is a beautiful thing to behold and I thank God for it daily.

    A word of advice, charity starts at home, and so does environmentalism. Compared to what my generation did to bring back lost resources, this generation looks like a bunch of complainers, and noone wants to hear it anymore.

    Instead of demonizing industry, get a job in that industry and change it from within. Instead of marching, holding silly signs (wasteful) and chanting, find a neglected park and use your hands and back instead of your mouth.

    People follow leaders, not whiners.

    No offense, but we worked hard to give you kids the world you enjoy today. It wasn’t so pretty for us. A little thankyou now and again goes a long way.

    1. Well done, thank you for what you did and what you continue to do. Sounds like you have a whole lot going on, and you and I have a lot in common despite our disagreements. Your generation started this stuff that I’m now pursuing. And the waves of negativity don’t just come from young people, you may have noticed…

      Also bear in mind that the clean air and water we enjoy in developed countries is mainly possible because we outsourced production (and hence pollution) to developing countries. Our rivers are clean because China’s are now dirty instead. So this is a rolling campaign. It isn’t over, and new challenges emerge all the time. But, because of the work done thirty or forty years ago, there is hope for developing countries too. We need to help in that, encouraging cleaner tech, sharing patents, and as consumers, demanding a more cradle-to-cradle approach.

      1. I’m afraid you missed my point Jeremy. I am not seeing much ‘doing’ from the younger generation, not compared to what my generation did.

        I see alot of tearing down but not much building.

        And as for Chimese goods, your generation has demanded far more than we ever could have dreamt of. Imports to the US alone have tripled in ten years.

        Wind turbiness have made an entire valley highly toxic.

        This is helping?

  4. Gator – I agree with Jeremy in thanking you for your contributions and hard work, and for demonstrating that it doesn’t take a life of ever increasing consumption to flourish as a human.

    But I am not sure what you hope to gain by lumping Jeremy into a generational conflict, when this blog is explicitly seeking goals that it seems you (at least partially) agree with. It seems clear to me that both your generation and mine have largely failed to protect or nurture the living spaces of the planet. The failure has indeed accelerated over the last thirty years and youngsters today have significantly higher levels of consumption than their parents did at a similar age, but then, so do their parents, who also now run the world. There is plenty of generational blame to go around.

    In my experience, those who seek to be part of a positive creative response, not just part of the problem (or part of whining about the problem) generally honour the earlier work done by preceding generations to achieve all kinds of excellent goals. If you are not seeing much “doing” from the younger generation, with respect, I suggest that you might not be looking in the right places. Are you aware of Jeremy’s own life and efforts?

    I am not claiming that there is enough doing, simply that just as your generation were partially successful in some battles, the ground of the fight has shifted and the issues are no longer quite the same. But there are some laborers still putting their shoulders to the wheel (and occasionally, lives and livelihoods on the line).

  5. Hey Byron! I was not singling out Jeremy, but now that you mention it, I am seeing alot of negativity regarding the society that gave him and us the lifestyle we have today.

    I would prefer to see positive actions rather than negative propaganda.

  6. The lifestyle which is costing us the earth, unfortunately.

    I’d prefer to see incisive analysis of what the true causes of our major issues are, and suggestions for engaging in creative resistance and alternatives. That’s why I read this blog, because it gives these things with great frequency and high consistency.

    1. Hey Byron! This blog is mainly one sided, as many are. The Earth is doing just fine and will continue doing fine. There is more forest today than 100 years ago, the water and air are much, much, much cleaner than 100 years ago. It was my father’s and my generations who cleaned that mess up. But don’t believe me, that comes from Lomborg.

      The medicines and technologies that save lives, like that of Jeremy’s new blessing, were developed by industries that would never have existed were it not for modernization through cheap energy.

      Study history guys. It is depressing that so few know their own history. You are doomed to repeat the same mistakes unless you wake up. Oil saved the whales and cleaned our world up. Do you have any idea how dirty cities were in the age of horse and buggy? Oil also saved the horse from a life of drudgery…

      1860: Residents of Washington, D.C. dump garbage and slop into alleys and streets, pigs roam freely, slaughterhouses spew nauseating fumes and rats and cockroaches infest most dwellings including the White House.

      1880: New York City scavengers remove 15,000 horse carcasses from the streets

      1896: Chicago’s City Council records its concern for the death rate in the 19th Ward, which has eight miles of unpaved roads that can’t be swept, roads “polluted to the last degree with
      trampled garbage, excreta and other vegetables and animal refuse of the vilest description.”

      1900: There are over 3 million horses working in American cities, each producing over 20 pounds of manure and gallons of urine per day, most of which is left on the streets.

      Things are actually getting better and CO2 is plant food. Smile.

  7. The Earth is doing just fine and will continue doing fine.
    I am afraid you have a very narrow and parochial view of the health of the planet. I believe neither your claims nor the repeatedly discredited claims of Lomborg, but will stick with those of every major scientific body of national and international standing on the planet.

    As I said on the other thread, I have studied history for years and am well aware of the double-edged sword of fossil fuels. Having myself survived cancer through intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy I am acutely aware of the benefits of technology. Notice that neither I nor Jeremy are anti-technology, nor anti-progress, nor anti-health, nor anti-human flourishing.

      1. Take your pick:

        Climate change: including global warming, precipitation shifts, sea level rise, intensification of extreme weather events, cryosphere melt, habitat change, phenological changes, crop yield suppression, carbon sink alteration, albido shifts and more.

        Fresh water stress (aquifer depletion, equity of access, water-bourn diseases, local water stress, etc.). Thirty-six US States are predicted to have water shortages by 2015 and rainy London is building a desalination plant.

        Peak oil (and perhaps further off, peak gas and coal): the end of cheap energy. Note that warnings are coming from more and more credible/mainstream sources.

        Biodiversity loss (including extinction, functional extinction, decline in ecosystem complexity and resiliance and loss in genetic diversity within species), currently running at somewhere between 100 and 1000 times the background rate, with most biologists agreeing we are at the cusp or already into the sixth great extinction event.

        Destruction of natural habitats (especially forests, wetlands and coral reefs). Your claim about reforestation may be true in the US, but not globally, not by a long shot.

        Desertification and soil degradation (erosion, depletion and salinisation). Over large areas, soil loss now exceeds soil formation. An area of arable land the size of Greece is lost each year.

        Ocean acidification. Proceeding to levels not seen in over 25 million years and at the fastest pace in geological history.

        Fisheries decline and collapse.

        Phytoplankton decline: down by 40% globally since 1950.

        Toxic pollution: plastics, heavy metals, hormones and other chemicals in the soils, air, oceans, aquifers, rivers and lakes. Your comment about cleaner air and water may hold true for the US (thanks to environmental campaigners lobbying for the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, rather than scouts picking up rubbish in a local river, as important as that is), but it is certainly false for the globe.

        Alteration of the nitrogen cycle (with many consequences, including marine hypoxia – “dead zones”).

        Invasive species, now costing trillions (yes, with a ‘t’) every year.

        Increasing human share of global photosynthetic capacity (primary production), which is also in modest decline.

        Radioactive waste and pollution.

        Pollinator decline.

        Peak phosphorus (and a number of other minerals, though phosphorus seems to be the most pressing and crucial).

        Stratospheric ozone depletion (partially mitigated and somewhat stable now, thanks to international cooperation through the Montreal Protocol).

        Antibiotic-resistant microbes (a.k.a. “superbugs”).

        We could go on and on.

        1. “We could go on and on.”

          I know, I’ve been hearing this drivel for decades now, and it is still wrong.

  8. And your proof is what?

    By the way, when I was a climatolgy student I wrote a massively researched paper on desertification. Every university and every government entity agreed, there was CONSENUS, that unless goverments spent trillions of dollars in MITIGATION, deserts would continue to ever expand and we would all starve.

    Never happened. We did nothing and everythign is just fine.

    Climate change is natural and noone can prove otherwise.

    You are a victim of alarmist propaganda. I can show you in their own words where they said they would lie to you about the dangers of man’s evil ways.

    Can you provide any information that is not alarmist propaganda?

    1. Never happened. We did nothing and everythign is just fine.
      Soil degradation and loss is currently estimated to cost US$42 billion annually. China is engaged in the largest tree planting exercise in history to combat soil loss and there are serious proposals for an even larger reafforestation project spanning sub-Saharan Africa to slow southward movement of the desert.

      A few seconds on Google Scholar gives hundreds of academic papers discussing aspects of this topic. What are your sources to claim that there is no problem? Do you have a link to the paper you wrote? Can you say a little more about when and where you studied climate?

      1. Google. The same Google that is conspiring to hide skeptic materials? Gee, that’s a shocker!

        Where is your proff? I thought this was supposed to be about science?

        1. Ah, the grand conspiracy is starting to fall into place now. Even Google are in on the communist plot to make the billionaires richer by distributing the wealth through killing Africans in order that a global government can hide the faked moon landings from the Islamist jihadists out to get everyone addicted to fluoride so we don’t notice the illuminati standing behind the curtain working on hiding the decline of UFOs.

          Last time I checked, my prof was in his office, working hard. Perhaps it is time for me to do the same.

          1. The Yale Forum on Climate Change reports that,

            … Google leads people to accurate information about climate change. Fifty-two percent of the 980 sites [returned by a Google search on climate change-related terms] contained clear statements in line with the vast majority of peer-reviewed climate science evidence. For example, if you had searched for “climate change myths” in early May, you would have found this Environmental Defense Fund site, which says, “The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it.”

            How about you provide even one peer reviewed paper that refutes nattural variability as the cause of recent climate change?

            If you cannot, you are not coming at this from a scientific viewpoint.

          2. That’s funny. Thanks for your comments Byron. I’m afraid patience and good sense is rather wasted on the blog at the moment. I hope it will settle down in the near future.

          3. As I said above, I’m giving up on this thread in order to do some real work, but just to ease your mind on this:

            Manning 2006; Pelejero 2005; Harries 2001; Griggs 2004; Chen 2007; Philipona 2004; Wang 2009; Evans 2006; Braganza 2004; Alexander 2006; Jones 2003; Santer 2003; Lastovika 2006. (Happy to provide links to any of those you can’t find, but don’t want to include all links or I’ll get blocked.)

            But if you want it in a single graph, then try here, which is from Meehl, 2004.

            Now, it’s your turn to show me your peer-reviewed papers that provides strong evidence for natural variability as the primary cause of recent climate changes.

  9. Yeah, silly Yale people.

    Pshaw!

    What do they know?

    Right?

    Pshaw!

    Well I guess you showed me!

    Oh, that”s right. No you haven’t.

    I’m still waiting on even one peer reviewed paper that refutes nattural variability as the cause of recent climate change.

    Wait… nope, still nothin’!

  10. Manning 2006; Pelejero 2005; Harries 2001; Griggs 2004; Chen 2007; Philipona 2004; Wang 2009; Evans 2006; Braganza 2004; Alexander 2006; Jones 2003; Santer 2003; Lastovika 2006.

    Not one of these and not even the summation will do what I have asked. Not even Meehl.

    Massive fail again.

    1. Now who is a speed reader?

      Each of those papers contributes to a coherent account of anthropogenic climate change theory, displaying various effects in the climate system that would not be present were the changes merely natural variation. The final graph in Meehl shows that without anthropogenic factors, the present shifts in global average surface temperature are unable to be explained by natural forcings. Only once natural and anthropogenic factors are both taken into account is there a match.

      No papers for you?

  11. “Now who is a speed reader?”

    Actually, I have been through this many times before and for decades.

    Do you know Don Wuebbles? I do. Google.

    We had a weeks long debate regarding a ridiculous claim he made regarding climate change.

    At the end he had to admit that there was no peer reiewed research that refutes natural variablilty as the cause of recent or any climate change.

    He also tried the Venus bluff and, to his credit admitted he was wrong.

    I told him I would save our email and contact him in 2019 because like you. he was all about faith. (I may break that promise in the next few years, too tempting…)

    Show me where in any of these papers I am wrong and I will never return to this site.

    But you must prove it. No guess work. This is my and my loved ones freedoms and futures we are talking about.

    Godspeed!

    1. Then you are either a mighty warrior of debate, or Don Wuebbles was so fed up with you that he was saying anything to make you go away.

      You are given evidence, you ignore it. You say something dumb, like that no studies exist comparing natural forcings or that the queen governs england, and then you deny that you ever said it.

      You claim that you have studied the climate for years, but then claim that other climate scientists are unaware of such things as urban heat islands.

      In short, there is no debating with you, and anyone that does so is completely wasting their time. (which, incidentally, you have a lot of)

      1. Actually after days of receiving nothing but alarmist propaganda (like here), I explained to Don he had done nothing but admit he was wrong.

        Just like you guys, he hates oil and has an agenda.

        Don could provide no peer reviewed research that disproves natural variability and admiited as much. He wanted to continue our ‘dialogue’ as he put it (refused to use the word debate), thinking he would change my mind.

        “You say something dumb, like that no studies exist comparing natural forcings or that the queen governs england, and then you deny that you ever said it. ”

        All I said was that the royals would profit off wind turbines.

        You have deep rooted issues.

        Jeremy you are either a liar or have reading comprehension issues.

        I never said the Queen governs England. in fact when first falsely accused I set the record straighrt immediately.

        I think you are a liar.

        You also tried another strawman tactic with the genocide claims.

        You act just kie Washington and Cook. You falsely smear those who defeat you in debate, no science just lies and smears.

        So. You want to confiscate my freedom and wealth.

        Until you can give me a good reason, it aint happening.

        Again, unless you can at least show me a problem, prove it is my fault, and prove your ‘solution’ will actually work, it is immoral for you to proceed.

        As I stated days ago, stop misrepresenting me. Stop lying.

        1. Gator, I have no interest in banning you or limiting your freedom to express your own barmy opinions.

          However, you are impossible to debate with, and I’m not going to do it. I can’t just ignore your contributions, because they are destroying any hope of a sensible discussion of what I’m writing about. I’m trying to hold a broad conversation, and you keep dragging it back to the same narrow and bizarre channels. (You’re more obsessed with climate change than I am, which is a little strange for someone who doesn’t believe in it)

          I don’t care what Climate Change Dispatch has done about censoring. This is my blog. I believe it’s an intelligent and useful contribution. You are reducing its usefulness to the thoughtful people who enjoy it. Why would I let you do that?

          So here’s the deal. I’ve presented some guidelines on commenting. You’re breaking them all the time. This is a final warning. You’re still firing off rude, ranting comments, attempting to ridicule and belittle anyone who disagrees with you. I won’t have that here. If it carries on, I will block you at the end of today.

          Not because I disagree with you – but because you are disruptive. It’s like carrying on a conversation with someone shouting in the room. It doesn’t matter whether what they’re shouting is right or wrong, it’s not acceptable behaviour.

          Is that clear? I feel I’m being patient and giving you every chance. Whether you take that chance or not is up to you.

          1. You are the issue Jeremy.

            You lie about what I say.

            Here is my post regarding the Queen…

            “Hey Robin! More about which Jeremy can be proud…

            “The Royal Family have secured a lucrative deal that will earn them tens of millions of pounds from the massive expansion of offshore windfarms.
            They will net up to £37.5 million extra income every year from the drive for green energy because the seabed within Britain’s ter­ritorial waters is owned by the Crown Estate.
            Under new measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne last week, the Royals will soon get 15 per cent of the profits from the Estate’s £6 billion property portfolio, rather than the existing Civil List arrangement.”

            Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323228/Queens-38m-year-offshore-windfarm-windfall–owns-seabed.html#ixzz1O27hPBE4

            God save the Queen, and then the planet.”

            Where in that post do I say that the Queen governs Britain? Nowhere.

            You lied.

            Maybe it is you that should be banned for poor behaviour.

            You are trying to create an issue so that you can censor me and still save face.

            “they are destroying any hope of a sensible discussion of what I’m writing about.”

            Rubbish.

            Like the movie quote, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’

            I’m disruptive? Why, because I will not limit my IQ and buy into a farce?

            If you censor me you will be admitting defeat in the most childish of ways.

            I have offered to leave this site and never return if you will simply prove what you assert.

            How is that disruptive?

            It isn’t.

            But it kills your agenda, and you cannot have that.

            This is why AGW is nearly dead. Its proponents are not trustworthy.

            I never lied about your statements.

            You owe me an apology.

          2. Wouldn’t that be great, if you left and didn’t return?

            But you didn’t accept the evidence I gave you, so that leaves us at an impasse.

            I don’t apologise, and I don’t agree that banning you would be a defeat. I’m happy to let future readers of these comment streams decide for themselves who was in the right, if any of them should bother to waste their time on them.

            No doubt you will badmouth me on Climate Change Dispatch and/or declare your banning to be both another victory for you and more evidence of ‘warmist’ censoring. But then you’ve already badmouthed me on CCD, so why should I worry if you do it again?

            PS. Your remark about the queen wasn’t in that comment, but in the following one.

  12. My Quote…

    “Because it shows the greed of the governing. This is their agenda.”

    The Queen…

    “The Queen exercises the powers of the Crown only on the advice of Her Majesty’s Canadian ministers. Moreover, the Queen rarely exercises these powers, as most of the Queen’s functions are delegated to the Governor General of Canada. As the Governor General exercises the Queen’s functions on the advice of the Government, and the Government is accountable to the elected House of Commons, the exercise of royal prerogatives is lent democratic legitimacy.”

    She is part of the governance, part of the system that is robbing the poor.

    I never said she governed.

  13. ” But then you’ve already badmouthed me on CCD, so why should I worry if you do it again?”

    Setting the record straight once again.

    I commented to another at CCD that I was disturbed by your take on scripture and cut and pasted your ‘faith’ section. Others were also disturbed by your interpretation. I also stated that you had given up on our debate, which you had, and then broke your word by continuing. If that is what you mean by ‘badmouthing’, then I am guilty as charged.

    BTW – I’ve not mentioned you anywhere since. Happy?

    I would not bring this up but you continue to personally attack me.

    You set up these strawman arguments and do not address the science I bring.

    The tone here would change immediately if you would stop heckling and stop the strawman nonsense.

    I’m more than willing to be civil, it is my preferred mode.

  14. Dear guys, thank you for posting this article and your comments. We hope our (and other) initiatives will take root, because if you will or not, we have to chance our way of consumer behavior. To set the record straight, we started in Jan 2011 with good intentions, the OK is ment as ‘ok’ energy and a symbolic ‘free trademark sign’ (the logo can be used freely with the right intentions, and can be downloaded for free at our website http:/www.happyenergy.com), and the concept and logo is developed by the founder Erik Schoppen. We have a long way to go but we are obligated to leave this planet in a livable condition for our future generations.
    Happy Energy, Movement for a Happy World, The Netherlands.

  15. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

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