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Consumption Conundrum by The Happy Ones

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Reduce GHGs from consumption? What a bandaid. Reduce consumption itself by dealing with the Jobs/status problem and dual stuff/info economy.



We don’t have an energy crisis, we have a consumption crisis.

We don’t need more energy, we need to reduce consumption. “Green energy” will only increase consumption.  Reducing greenhouse gases involved in producing consumables will also only increase consumption.

Of course, in the developing countries, levels of consumption need to rise, and more energy is required, so we’re not saying you should stop working on the technological dimensions of the energy and efficiency problem.

But the key point is this. The energy supply/technological problem is more easily solved than the consumption problem.  Put another way, if it were only a technical problem, it would have been solved by now.  The “energy crisis” has a technological solution.  The “consumption crisis” is messier.  Social.  Spiritual.  Relational.  It is about our values, priorities, and the relationships we have which are reflected by the shape our economy takes. 

It is the consumption side of the problem that we are the most uncomfortable dealing with. 

If we solve this consumption side, the technological side isn’t a problem at all.  But if we solve the technological side - come up with unlimited sources of energy - we still haven’t solved the consumption thing - our insatiable hunger.

Why so insatiable?  Why are we so unsatisfied?  As Eric Hoffer puts it:

In the chemistry of the soul, a substitute is almost always explosive if for no other reason than that we can never have enough of it. We can never have enough of that which we really do not want. What we want is justified self-confidence and self-esteem. If we cannot have the originals, we can never have enough of the substitutes.

- From “The Ordeal of Change” - 1976

We don't really want a job, we want to justify our worth and status so that we can have income to get what we want. And we don't want to consume so much stuff, but there's all this peer pressure and our friend's jobs depend on it. 

It's time to listen to Jaron Lanier.  More soon!

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Reducing consumption

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