Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:36 am
WotE: Efficiency & Allocation
The second set of chapters on problems was based a lot on the previous set on water/food shortage. The most interesting aspects of failed states and climate refugees, to me, is the allocation problem - that we're hoping that when visible changes happen, the U.S. [Congress] will wake up and do something [useful], but that those changes are most likely going to happen in parts of the world far away from us. While our aquifers are dropping, and we'll likely hit some water shortages, we're not in nearly as stressed of a situation with food, and unless we have some enormous sea level rise, I don't know whether we'll even see too much social/political change from that! Thoughts?
The first chapter on the solutions was on efficiency, which I think is a fascinating concept. Not from the engineering perspective - making systems work more efficiently is useful, and good, but not fascinating like it is on the socio-economic side of things. There, when we want things to be more efficient - our homes, the government, industry - it's always treated as a good thing - less utility bills! - less deficit/debt! - cheaper goods! - but there isn't a free lunch. No matter how much Lester Brown (and others) want there to be with win-win-win situations. Fundamentally, if there's less money in the system, there's probably someone without a job. (People are expensive - see the hard truths thread). And I think the biggest questions after this chapter in my brain are these:
Say we do all these efficiency things to our buildings and appliances and such - how much electrical/energy infrastructure could we tear/shutdown, and how much would we be just avoiding building more to handle peaking?
How many people at utility companies, manufacturers, etc. will be out of work if we have more efficient and more durable products? Will new technology development and monitoring balance out these losses?
How do we guarantee food, water, shelter, and regular data access to everyone in an increasingly efficient world with fewer jobs? Less hours/week? More social welfare? Arbitrary killings? Selective socialism?
Overcome Apathy. Participate.
If not Us, who?
If not Now, when?