Conserve, combine, create. That is the hierarchy. Why is it so difficult to adopt this attitude? Dawkins and Dennett, two authors of evolutionary tomes ask the question when a new species has developed: “Who benefits?” . A friend asked, “Why is it so hard to make conservation of resources a way of life”. Short answer: because the non-use of something is hard to market, the answer to the “Who benefits?” question; and because we have yet to establish a “meme”, a piece of cultural DNA that will float through our societies and reproduce prolifically, the Nike “Just do it.” moment. I used to say “we conserve energy, because it is the right thing to do”. No reproduction to my knowledge.
- We have to see ourselves as a system. Our activities are a direct result of our forebears and will influence our heirs. A pump manufacturer said to me once, “We are pretty great at understanding pumps from flange to flange, but we need to expand that.” Building fluid networks are a system that includes the pump, but is not just the pump. So is our generation on earth!
- We have to look at conservation as saving our species, not the planet. The planet will be just fine. I cut my thumb, it hurt, it will heal in about two weeks, and little evidence of it will be there next year. Mankind, in proportion, is cutting the biosphere in a smaller slice than on my thumb, and will heal in less than 1o,ooo years, far less than my 1/70th of my tenure. (Watch “Life after Man”, the National Geographic movie! Our activities are of little impact or duration, except to ourselves.)
- Look to where small changes can redirect large consequences: Malvina Reynolds was singing about the faucets that drip in New York in 1962 in Town Hall, today we are running out of fresh water! Take responsibility. (GK Chesterton responded to the question posed by the London Times at the turn of the 20th century, “What is wrong with the world?” with a simple “I am.”. Tom Shadyac made an eponymous movie about that, and the solution? We are!