Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Carbon first, what next?

The law of diminishing return refers to the idea that as supply increases, the value or return diminishes. Richard Heinburg explains this concept with espresso. He said that with one cup of espresso, he would be able to get his work done with high quality. If he had two cups, he would get more work done, however, the quality of work would not be as great as if he were to have just one cup. And it all goes to hell if he has three cups because it would cost him more to do that work since the quality would be so low. The law of diminishing return definitely applies to sustainability. We cannot keep using the unsustainable means of energy just because they are easy to produce. The more we produce of it, the lower its value to us. There is only so much that oil can do for our society. It has created and devastated our economies and eventually will no longer be of use to us. Although our lives currently rely on oil, there must come a point where the production and use of oil will no longer offer the same return that it did in the past. Richard also mentions that societies that have invested in complexities often reach a point in their society where their specialization does not give them any profit to society, often leading to their demise. We should not wait for the oil and carbon way of life to reach its diminishing return for us to turn to new means of energy production and consumption.

Resilience is ability to absorb shocks and be able to still function. Resilience has not been the focus of our lives because for the past hundreds of years, the focus has been on profits. But our financial institutions are making profits through speculation and debt, which is nowhere near resilient to environmental shocks. A more resilient society would use a more cooperative framework that would achieve goals for all opposed to just those who want to make profits.  Working together to decide what should be made or what services should be offered can have outstanding impacts on our society like increasing environmental health and slowing down population growth. There are so many aspects of life that are put into the hands of the people who just want to make money at any expense and we should take back our rights as humans to these aspects. There is no reason why we could not work together and be profitable, while also creating resilient systems. Our current economic system is unstable at best and is unpredictable because of the way that investments are made using speculation and piggybacking on other's debts. We need to reshape our society to become more resilient so that we can have a better future where more people feel like they have control over their lives and that the environment doesn't have to suffer at the expense of profits.

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