How to keep your efficiency from speeding up consumption

John Rainbird responded today:

Hi Phil – it is a critical point you make.  Efficiency has to be a core part of the response, but what is lacking are the other measures to prevent the rebound effect of increased efficiency on resource use.  What are your thoughts on what these might be? John


Right, that’s the rub. We need to efficiently use the earth, but at the moment our efficiencies are being used to multiply our uses of the earth. Our most popular mental failing in that regard, though, is seeing the obvious “dumb question” that raises, and then not doing what you just did, asking it.

but at the moment our efficiencies are being used to multiply our uses of the earth.

All economies actually start with a period of having their internal efficiencies multiply their impacts, called growth… I wrote two short pieces on how ‘well mannered’ economies make the switch away from that that you might start with. They’re forced to choose between continuing growth until it exhausts them or collapses their environment,… or not. It’s one of those things that nature reduces from being exceedingly complex to being elementally simple.

One of a series of little hurdles people need to get over to “wrap our minds around it” is that economies are actual physical things. They’re networks of loosely connected physical processes that work as a whole. They do that because they’re made of individually learning parts, that learn to work together on lots of complementary tasks.

Their designs and behaviors are necessarily complex and locally original, so mostly beyond our ability to define with theories. That continuing growth eventually causes their complex organization to fail is one of the simple things. Seeing how they switch away from that starts with just learning to observe them, noticing things that demonstrate how they act as a whole.

6 pg Economies That Become Part of Nature – 2 pg Letter in WorldWatch


Phil Henshaw  ¸¸¸¸.·´ ¯ `·.¸¸¸¸


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