Last week at dinner, our friend (@doyendon) challenged 1X57 to find, or at least contemplate, a solution to consumer-based economies, aka contemporary capitalism, which is causing a global crisis of unconscionable proportions – with food and energy prices soaring, world populations surging, and weather-related disasters like tornadoes, tsunamis, droughts, fires and floods increasing in frequency and scale.
In a new book by Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur Paul Gilding called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World” – the solution offered is “moving to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less.”
We’ll be exploring this solution and others, and welcome any suggestions that will help lead us to a global remedy.
think the solution to a happiness-based model is really just “based on people working less and owning less.” You need to think deeply about what “work” is. Are we defining it as soul-sucking time spent acquiring money in order to pay debts built from acquiring stuff? Does it include a sense of satisfaction at seeing something created, sustained or used. How is work tied to the stuff we acquire and what additional costs are part of working (e.g. commuting). I would look to the Maker movement and the challenge and satisfaction of creating our own things. But I would stipulate that “working less” may be something very different depending on what work we do.
thanks kelcy. DIY and the Maker movement is definitely on our radar. we specifically asked Dale Dougherty to be a part of the event we’re producing in Vancouver b/c of this: http://www.expertclick.com/NewsReleaseWire/Futurist_Inventors_Welcome_Dale_Dougherty_to_Vancouver,201136588.aspx
As I read this, I had multiple thoughts:
– Is your premise true that consumer-driven growth model broken? Your anectdotal evidence of contemporary capitalism, which is causing a global crisis of unconscionable proportions – with food and energy prices soaring, world populations surging, and weather-related disasters like tornadoes, tsunamis, droughts, fires and floods increasing in frequency and scale…I’m not sure you can prove cause & effect???
– In order to answer the question, I think you would want to find the actual causes or variables that make up consumer-driven growth: generational, cultural, periods of war, and so on.
– Digging deeper into the second bullet, I believe would give you a better chance in studying the question & coming up with some plausible solutions.
@Urchin – I totally agree. I was at the dinner with them and I felt like the blame was being placed in the wrong area.
I would argue that we are not a consumer driven society in the first place. That’s like saying my garden is a vegetable based operation. It totally ignores all the extreme effort it takes to create the vegetable. The soil, the tilling, the weeding, the watering, the harvesting, and then finally the eating.
I think we have let economists define us using an easy measure of production. I can measure my garden by saying how many vegetables it produces but it only covers about 10% of the process.
This is especially problematic considering that all the change, innovation, and failure is occurring in the process before consumption. Look at cars for example. We are still buying cars, a lot of them, but the car industry still collapsed. They needed to change their process and the like.
In food, the same is true, we have an ever increasing demand for food but are ignoring the process behind it. Prices are rising for reasons totally unrelated to consumption.
On the whole I would recommend a definition of life-cycle consumption. Determining an economic measurement that quantifies multiple levels in the creation and consumption process. Each one is interrelated and can be tracked for growth, weakness, etc.
I just came across an interesting article that discusses aspects of what you are trying to define. I haven’t read the books they reference near the end, but they may also give some additional insights that have value to this quest. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/stefan-stern-behind-corporate-walls-the-masters-of-the-universe-weep-2297910.html
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