Just curious


Allison, Hope this is responsive.

“! And please not just a theory.”

– The practical tools for measuring total direct project impacts has been the main thing I’ve raised here. The hidden impacts exported to others by making purchases, are regularly not included. To know our impacts and our choices we’d need to include them. As you observed it’s ‘sensitive’ though, and so we’d also need to address the moral dilemmas.

“I am not going to simply stop eating this weekend because my money will help a cycle I don’t believe in. Come on. I might complain, but I am part of this system too. We all are. Even you.“

– Absolutely correct, which means that drastic personal cuts wouldn’t help in the slightest, even if you could make them. Cutting personal consumption or dropping out won’t change how others are misusing your creativity.

“I get your point academically. I wish I could push you to say what you really think is possible. What’s the path? Only through total collapse? So you are saying it’s ok to go there without some kind of a fight? “

– Discovering which of our assumptions is at fault is more the path I was suggesting. That means being self-critical and questioning our assumptions. Nearly everyone assumes it’s OK to leave money lying around multiplying. It’s part of how we ‘pay’ for nearly everything. The actual solution, which would take hold if it got the right start, is for people to stop with the compounding of their unearned income. When you think it through that’s has to be included if we’re going to stop multiplying the exploitation of the earth. One way to be truthful about it is to honestly measure our total impacts, to see them.

“Also, to get everyone to complain as you wish, you need them to agree first. That is actually what is happening on some levels, but one by one and in smaller groups and through some big organizations and groups too.“

– Yes, there are some discussions of it, but the subject is still completely invisible to the public. Part of the reason is that the sustainability movement has steered clear of it. Everyone like Al Gore and all the mainstream sustainability institutions dodge the question. They see themselves in a trap and unable to raise the subject because it compromises their own funding interests.

“Suggest what would actually happen in your view? How is total collapse avoided? Who makes the required change and how? And then bring it back to building and this forum. We will still build SOMETHING. Even in a reduced system. “

– What would change a global culture of multiplying consumption on a fragile earth is a simple change in our design principles. The principle that profits should be used to multiply profits is the problem. They multiply till something fails, as we’ve seen this week. What others have called an impossible ‘theoretical’ reality, a finite earth, apparently has some substance. Everyone saw it coming. Everyone thought it was someone else’s job to mention it.

The solution would take a lot of people learning how to do things differently. The new design principle could be as simple as the one that steered us into trouble. We’d switch from ‘let profits multiply’ to ‘let profits go’. People wouldn’t compound their returns but would let them go as spending or gifts (eventually treating others that didn’t as cheaters). We need to learn to treat the gifts of nature as gifts. We’ve been using them as leverage with which to multiply our leverage, and that’s disasterous.

– For sustainable design it means adding up your total project impacts, comparing them with a target to understand the difference. To achieve a total balance of harms and compensations you’d accept responsibility for designing compensating gifts to your project’s environment of some comparable kind. That’s what I’ve been consistently writing and talking about for years now and what you can see more about on my consulting wiki www.Connection.metadot.net

– The real reason why this all may seem fuzzy and foreign to people is that it does not come from a deterministic world view, but an individualistic one. If you look around you can readily observe that that the things getting us in trouble have their own individual reactions. When you consider successful ecologies you find them full of individuals that are resourcefully steering clear of trouble, displaying individual learning. That can’t possibly be deterministic. We can observe and design for a world full of individuals and communities engaged in their own learning, and help people learn to think in a more truthful and more successful way.

Phil Henshaw



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