Friday, June 17, 2016

Consumption Junction III: Efficiency

We Feed the Machine
At its core, anthropocentric consumption reshapes and devours matter and energy 365 days a year on Earth, year after year after year.  Our hungry civilization has evolved into a vast macro-organism-machine whose seemingly insatiable appetite reshapes the very planet itself. Surely, some worthy production flows from and within our planetary society, alas the massive inputs and outputs need to be thoughtfully considered if we don't want to poison the well that is our home for us and the living world.

Reducing the human population long term seems like the best path to mitigate local and worldwide impacts of our species, but in the near term one of the most effective things that can be done is to dial up efficiency in all aspects of human living. In a sense modern society is riding the benefits of efficiency already as leveraged by science, technology, and business savvy. Without the refined processes of agriculture developed over millennia, for instance, the existence of billions of humans on this planet would be entirely unsustainable.

Efficiency at its heart is embodied by the common sense to reduce and minimize unnecessary consumption in the first place.  Market forces, and the wealthy stockholders behind them, all too often seek to encourage consumption for the sake of profit. Economic revolutions aside, we as individuals and communities do wield the real power, as ironic as it may As we are the literal consumers that drive the market forces the powers that be pay attention to.  So, as an organized collective we can channel change through many paths including our governments, flexible boycotts and individual behavior.

In the real world, whole industries have the potential for significant consumption reduction.   Personal tranportation which maximizes fuel efficiency can be pursued with better engine technology and public transport, but also with more walking, bicycling and telecommuting.  Food production efficiency can be tremendously improved by simply moving away from archaic (and inhumane) animal products and toward plant-based nutritional production.  Land use can be minimized through tiny home philosophies complemented by mega-city development, each simultaneously encouraging wildlands stewardship.  Even the elimination over time of the enormous misguided spending on military efforts can free up resources for investment in education and mindful infrastructure development.

The list goes on and on, and I encourage you to pick your favorite category and envision a short and long term efficiency plan.  Sure, the world won't change overnight; that's because changing reality takes patience and effort longterm, but we can do it across generations with our capabilities.  It all starts with each of us reducing consumption in our lives today and encouraging others to do the same tomorrow.

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