More

Not much progress was made at the recent climate summit in Glasgow.

Our precocious 15-month-old Granddaughter put her finger on the reason!

Adalyn has a limited vocabulary, but she understands a good portion of what we say. To ease frustration arising from the gap between her comprehension and verbal expression, our daughter taught her basic sign language.

Can you guess what Adalyn’s favorite sign is? 

She makes it by bringing the fingers on each hand together, and then touching her hands together in front of her; the American sign language sign for “More.”

Who doesn’t want more? 

When “More” is a corporate objective, we call it greed. Greed of course, always applies to someone else. The truth is, “More” is ingrained in our psychic.  On a world scale, it’s a large problem. 

The British economist, Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), was best known for his theory that population growth, in absence of strict limits, would lead to resource depletion and economic collapse. His theories haven’t held up. Free market economies never run out of anything. When demand exceeds supply, prices rise and alternatives or new technologies are found. 

This says nothing, however, about the kind of world “More” creates.

The natural world is changing rapidly. More forests have been lost during the past one-hundred years than in the previous 9000 years. That’s an area egual to the size of The United States. (Source: Ourworldindata.org). 

The World Wildlife Federation claims that species are going extinct at somewhere between 1000 and 10,000 times the natural rate.

Synthetic chemicals are ubiquitous in the environment, presenting negative consequences for health. 

Scientists believe we have entered a new geological age; the so called anthropocene, a period where human action is the dominant influence on climate and environment.  We don’t know exactly what this will mean to future generations, but it doesn’t appear to be good! 

One thing is certain. Degradation of the natural world will continue until such a time when the driving force of economic activity ceases to be “More.” 

What kind of world might that entail? Would quality of life rather than quantity in life rise? Would attention shift from acquisition to stewardship?  I have to admit, a world devoid of “More” is hard for me to imagine!

Real progress on climate change is going to require a new economic approach. 

Back in my work days, financial experts advocated for a broad “activity-based” view of product costs to more accurately calculate profits. If such an approach included costs associated with environmental degradation, prices would rise significantly!

No one likes pollution, but I’m not sure dramatically higher prices would be any more acceptable.

This brings me to my main point. Who is responsible for climate change? Governments? Corporations? That’s where today’s headlines place the blame!

But who are we fooling?

Meaningful progress will not be made until individuals decide environmental protection is of greater urgency than “More.” 

Perhaps we are seeing the earliest signs of such a change. Young people appear to have greater concern for the origin and impact of what they buy. As a result, sustainability is beginning to enter the corporate lexicon. 

These are positive signs, but we are a long way from abandoning our Ponzi scheme stewardship of the earth.

Everyone likes “More.”

Just ask Adalyn!

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5 Replies to “More”

  1. Global environmental problems are often pinned to economies driven by “growth”, but I think your word “more” makes it more (sorry) about personal accountability.

    Another good post, Tim.

    Tim Vignos 541-654-7177 Eugene OR

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  2. Earth population 5000 BC—- 5 million
    Earth population 200 AD—5200 years later—190 million
    Earth population 1600—1400 years later—500 million
    Earth population 1804—- 204 years later— 1 billion
    Earth Population 1927—113 years later—2 billion
    Earth Population 1960 —33 years later—3 billion
    Earth population 1974—- 14 years later—4 billion
    Earth population 1987—-13 years later—5 billion
    Earth population 1999— 12 years later—6 billion
    Earth population 2011—-12 years later—7 billion
    Earth population 2022—-11 years later—8 billion

    Medicine advancements, food supplies, everyone wants more no matter where they live or who they are, for themselves, for their kids, for their grandkids= more agriculture, longer lives, more stuff= more pollution, more extinct species= humans rule and we all protect our own tribes—– Tribalism has been the dominant force over the entire history of human civilization—- protect and advance your family

    Sorry Tim—- but the only big chance will be worldwide plagues or world wars to set back the human growth curve and reduce the need for food, housing, transportation and stuff. Everyone wants more —–or at least 90 % of everybody and the other 10 % is flat out of luck trying to convince that 90 % that they do not want or need that next thing or that next meal…

    Do I want to cut back my wants and desires for me or my grandkids so that the growing number of Chinese or Indians in India can have more stuff— no thanks. Those two countries account for 3 billion of that 8 billion in population and they have no intent of slowing down their consumption, birthrates or want of stuff and influence in the World…

    I would like to be wishful but REALITY RULES….

    Survival of the fittest and of the countries that are strongest !!

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