Monday, October 10, 2005
Conservation doesn't work
I'm enjoying an email exchange with someone who is concerned that my blathering about EVs and sustainability is filled with dangerous ideas. I'm not advocating conservation strongly enough, apparently, nor do I appreciate how "cheap" fossil fuels truly are (afterall, we just pump them up or dig them out of the ground, right?)
We clearly agree on the biggest picture: Americans consume too much. Our views about what to do about it are vastly divergent.
One place we don't see eye-to-eye is on the topic of conservation. One thing I've come to understand is that the Creative Force behind the Universe, whom I know as God but others know in various other terms, isn't really interested in conservation. Stewardship is important: namely, understanding our relationship to things and how we should care for the world around us, that's important. But the First Cause is all about explosive abundance. Limitless-ness. Unbounded enthusiasm.
Look at how stars spend energy. Look at how the natural kingdom takes the constant influx of sunlight and recycles that energy through plant leaves, to insects, to the higher orders, and finally back to soil. Nature, although appearing very wasteful, is actually merely exuberant. Nothing is really wasted. Anytime an abundance of waste product piles up, after a hundred thousand years or so something discovers how to eat it.
Conservation speaks to trying to restrict the exuberance which is built into our very cells. Conservation is a call to abstinence. We're all successful to varying degrees on this. We do certainly need to consume less, in terms of reducing our gluttony. But if we treat resource management the same way we treat sexuality in this country, we'll merely end up even more screwed up.
The energy of creation will find a way to express. If we block it, it sneaks past in unexpected (and sometimes hurtful) ways. If we embrace it, celebrate it, understand the true nature of the flow of energy, then our relationships with things, with money, with each other, and with our highest self will be restored to balance.
And the energy crisis will be resolved.
After a meaty exchange with Amanda, I've come to see my definition of conservation was limited to the idea of applying a band-aid to a poorly designed system. What I think of as stewardship is "strong" conservation: designing a system to generate minimum waste in the first place.
There's a bunch of economic growth potential in zero-waste design. I like it.
Posted by Robert van de Walle