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Continue reading Links for the week of November 26th, 2010
Somehow, in the course of watching this talk by Orville Schell on China and long term thinking, I was finally struck by the potential consequences of really doing Cradle to Cradle design, and scaling up renewable energy. It would mean the possibility of material autarky. Today a swarm of idle container ships hovers around Singapore, because of a little recession. If we completely weaned ourselves off of non-renewable resources, if we closed the world’s landfills, any nation could check out of the world’s material economy. What would still flow? Renewable resources, like food, and non-food agricultural products, and to some degree water. Labor might also flow, if its price were significantly different in different places — or maybe the stuff would flow to the cheap hands — but more likely I think, those labor price imbalances would “relax to equilibrium” in time. You’d still get material flows happening if there were, on balance, growth happening: new buildings, bridges, dams, etc., or if the material were being re-distributed around the world (dismantling eastern Europe to build a booming Turkey?). Most important, information would flow. Processes and technology would be developed, and then implemented in new places, without any container ships at all. How much would culture flow? Would this help or hinder the preservation of our polyglot planet?
Continue reading Cradle to Cradle + Renewable Energy = Material Autarky