Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#108 / Hole In The Bucket

Speaking of "less," one way not to need "more" is to make sure that we're not wasting anything.

My father made that point to me, when I was growing up, in terms of basic family economics, and he used the "leaky bucket" example.

The same principle works on a grander scale. We may not need to manufacture more water with an environmentally and economically costly desalination plant, for instance, if we can just make sure that our existing water system isn't "leaking." In California, energy conservation was seen as an alternative to new nuclear power plants (credit the first term Jerry Brown with that), and that "conservation strategy" did, in fact, work out. The Rocky Mountain Institute suggests that there is a lot of conservation left in the system, too.

As for the general principle, if we had to walk a mile for each bucket of water (or anything else) we used, my sense is that we'd be a lot more attentive to how we could eliminate waste.

1 comment:

  1. That's the problem. Most people alive today in the United States have never had to do anything but turn the faucet handle, flush the toilet, push the button on the electronic washing machine. Water is too easy and too cheap.

    It's not conservation so much as "not wasting." When you haul water from the spring, you don't waste a drop and you don't use clean water to flush the toilet.

    The same is true for energy. When all you have to do is turn up the thermostat, you're not aware of the energy going out single pane windows and the uninsulated ceiling. When you cut firewood for heat, you manage window shades, insulate heavily and dress warmly in your house.

    We've become a spoiled, whiney, demanding society, wanting everything instantly and without effort. We expect to be able to travel thousands of miles in a few hours, without experiencing weather, local conditions or any inconvenience along the way. Computers have taught us to expect everything immediately, on demand, without regard to cost or resources required.

    We're cut off from the source of our largesse, substituting stores, markets, catalogs and the Internet for active participation in our own subsistence. This is ultimately fatal.

    This is only temporary, of course, as no species can survive for long that consumes more than is naturally renewable, and produces more waste than can be naturally dispersed. Human profligacy is unsustainable.


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