My Daughter

My Daughter
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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Conservation

To most people, conservation means using less of something. But in the larger picture, it means the care and protection, or management of natural resources. Sometimes, this means not using them at all.

In the post-peak oil world, we will have to explore the options before us in this finite world, from increasing the efficiency of energy use, to learning to do with less, and perhaps even finding our true place in the cosmos. Conservation and improving energy efficiency may be the most cost-effective thing that we can do in the short term. How much you will actually benefit from this depends on how you approach it. Every opportunity for saving energy requires significant effort if it is going to work and endure the test of time.

There is a difference between man and all other animals—he is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied. The wants of every other living thing are uniform and fixed. Of what nature offers them, be it ever so abundant, all living things, save man, take only enough to supply wants that are definite and fixed. The only use they can make of additional supplies or additional opportunities is to multiply.

But not so with man. No sooner are his animal wants satisfied than new ones arise. The beast never wants more; but the man has but set his foot on the first step of an infinite progression—a progression upon which the beast never enters. While the animal can but multiply; the man will develop. We must learn to develop within the boundaries of our ecosystem and the renewable energy resources that avail us. This will require a paradigm shift in our world view that is consistent with the parameters of this sustainable world.

In terms of anthropology, we need to explore our en masse experience; why have we journeyed down this path in particular, and what will we make of this journey in hindsight, and where will it take us from here. We must also concern ourselves with the awareness that we are inextricably woven into the web of life. Conservation-based thinking then entails a rich understanding of ourselves and our functioning within the grandness or our world system—not in it or of it, but with it. In other words, we will be required to revisit every single one of our assumptions about who we are, what we do and why we do it. We must think of ourselves in intimate detail and we must think of what the world thinks of us or how we would look to the “larger system.”

In essence, to conserve is to buy the time we require to make the transitions needed to continue the "human project" as per the Earth's ecological linmits, and then embrace the subsequent conservation values and ethics into the future for all time.

"Conservation is the key to self-sufficiency, and self-sufficiency it is the key to survival."

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