© Tomorrow's Air / Sebastian Herrmann

Book Highlight: Julia Watson’s Lo—TEK, Indigenous Designs That Support Climate

31 March 2023

Lo—TEK is a design movement building on Indigenous philosophy to generate sustainable, resilient, nature-based technology. It is also the subject of a recent Tomorrow’s Air series which highlights the deep research conducted by Julia Watson, author of “Lo—TEK, Design by Radical Indigenism.”

Watson’s book spotlights incredible designs around the world, offering practical inspiration in an array of geographic locations. For example, the book covers places such as:

  • Sangjiyutang Mulberry Dyke and Fish Ponds in Huzhou, China where a system recycles waste and energy and replaces the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and concrete flood barriers while also storing carbon dioxide. ⁠
  • The Phumdis of the Manipuri people on Lake Loktak in India. Here a system of thousands of floating meadows made from vegetation, decomposing organic matter, and black soil provide fish farming infrastructures, which often include a house or 'phumsang', to recycle nutrients, purify water, recharge groundwater, and control runoff.⁠
  • The rice terraces of the Philippines where the Indigenous Ifugao people  transform the otherwise unusable hill slides into productive land. The terraces form unique micro-watersheds that act as rainwater filtration systems. ⁠As Watson writes, “Construction involves the careful carving of the natural hill and mountain contours to create stone terraces and ponds, which are connected by an intricate irrigation system that harvests water from forested mountaintops relying on simple tools and animal power.”

With a foreword by anthropologist Wade Davis and spanning 18 countries from Peru and the Philippines to Tanzania and Iran, Watson’s book explores millennia-old human ingenuity on how to live in symbiosis with nature. Find it on Amazon.

Leveraging Indigenous knowledge more in our modern designs will help us reduce emissions and come back into balance with nature. Even so, we’ll need carbon removal to cool the Earth. This is because the carbon dioxide emissions already stored in the atmosphere will continue to warm it for thousands of years. The only way to permanently reverse warming is through carbon removal. ⁠Learn more at Tomorrow’s Air

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