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“The Resource Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
In my last water efficiency article (Water-Efficiency: Why Most Advice You’ve Read is Absolutely Inefficient), we began a slow turn away from lighting with a discussion of the 80/20 Rule and how your little positive behavioral changes with water aren’t even a drop in the bucket when your other positive behavioral changes – making homemade pizza – evaporate the entire year’s ocean of benefits in a few tasty bites.
In a four-part series, we talk about a resource besides energy: water.
- Today, we begin far above this “turn off the porch lights and take short, icy showers” efficiency thing to show you how we got to where we are now both in fuels and in other resources.
- Next week, we introduce the resource called water, its parallels with fossil fuels, and its role in global warming.
- The following week, we continue going with the flow of water, when we show the parallel between the current hot Oil Wars and in the future cold Water Wars.
- And in the final week, we tie together the articles in a symphony of three movements, showing you how all the elements hold the Resource Matrix in place and how, like Neo in the movie, you can break the code that creates the graphical user interface and see the illusion for what it really is. (At least, my version of it, anyway.)
Ready to take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit-hole goes?
We start with one of the most boring subjects known to college students, one birthed out of the Enlightenment when extremely titled, idly rich, powdery wig-headed fancy foppish men dressed like women and walked in high heels and squealed like school girls:
Economics: it’s totally insane
Economics is described as the science of allocating scarce resources. Since it’s the study of human behavior, it’s a social science rather than a physical science.
And although any individual’s behavior may not be predictable, individuals as a group can be. Kinda like the weather: you don’t know much about a single raindrop’s effect but you can track the overall storm and predict what’s next.
Economics likes to fool itself that it can predict behavior based on the assumption that people make rational choices. Understand what people think and you understand what choices people will make.
It unfortunately leaves out the other part of being human: human behavior based on emotions.
And emotions weigh heavily in how we interact with each other, especially in exchanges of value.
“I want your goodies for nothing”
Economics recognizes that people are motivated by self-interest to maximize their benefits at the lowest cost.
On an individual basis, this can turn into a “win-lose” proposition:
- I want to acquire the best stuff for the cheapest terms
- I want to dispose of the lousiest stuff for the greatest terms
In short, you want diamonds and gold for nothing and they want to give you useless junk for a king’s ransom.
May the Force be with you:
getting diamonds and gold for nothing:
Economics comes out of 18th century political economy, which studied production, buying and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government. Political economy itself comes out of moral philosophy.
This moral philosophy apparently had room for colonialism, which comes pretty close to getting your diamonds and gold for nothing: forcibly take over a country and use its people to extract its resources to be reallocated to your bank account. And make sure nobody but you has any say in the matter.
Social good in the equation:
A few people didn’t see the morality in this philosophy. Enter the lousy, meddling individual do-gooders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Upton Sinclair, and many others who messed with the “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd.
And some of the individuals do-gooders formed their own organizations like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.
They all worked to increase awareness that there are alternatives to being forced to give away your diamonds and gold for nothing while having no say in the matter, and worked to change deals from “win-lose” to “win-win.”
The “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd, who could only lose in the change to “win-win,” found their salvation in the late 1800s with the rise of modern psychology (the scientific study of mental functions and behavior). Applied to politics, it’s called propaganda. Applied to spirituality, it’s called religion. Applied to commerce, it’s called marketing and advertising.
All these applications are forms of hypnotism, and are based on the proven principle that if you repeat anything enough times, including a falsehood, your audience will grow to believe it and then to defend it as the truth.
The “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd used economics to hypnotically declare for 250 years that fossil fuels, the air, and water were without cost. They called them “free goods.”
And they used force (“Oh yeah, and what the hell are you going to do about it?”) to declare that pollution had no consequences.
What’s an Oxymoron?
“Free Good” in economics
The free good is a term used in economics to describe a good that is not scarce. A free good is available in as great a quantity as desired with zero opportunity cost to society.
Earlier schools of economic thought proposed that free goods were resources that are so abundant in nature that there is enough for everyone to have as much as they want. Examples in textbooks (even in the 1980s) included fresh water and the air that we breathe. However, these are now regarded as common goods because competition for them is rivalrous.
In short, there is no free lunch.
An additional moral philosophy:
“There’s a sucker born every minute”
“How can I help you help me?”
The “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd continues to rise early and work late to craft their “win-lose” deals every day.
Yet, out of those rising early and working late, a small radical fringe discovered the curious fact that if you don’t beat a dog bloody every time you see it, it’s less likely to bite your hand off, and it even might go out and hunt down a squirrel for your evening stew.
Their moral philosophy became a hybrid offshoot.
The Hybrids still want your goodies, but they are willing to help you get your goodies with less pain and damage to yourself so you’ll be willing to come back to them and hand over more of your goodies.
Both use the same mind-numbing hypnotic slogans: “We care about you.”
The difference is the Hybrids actually do some of those same things that someone who cares about you would do. Even if they don’t actually give a hoot about you. Contrast that to the “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd, who merely sends you more hynoptic slogans when they want your goodies.
Where Do You Want to Go Today?
Everywhere but here
We’ve all awaken to the shocking realizations that:
- finite energy resources will run out
- actions have consequences, and the consequences of our actions are already visible, rather scary, and quite irreversible, and
- the “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd hasn’t been telling the truth
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, you could just pop some soma and totally trip out.
But the cowardly old world we’re experiencing has quickly turned into a total bummer of a bad trip, man. Down with the Establishment and praise the Collective.
We’re all in this together, or
Toss the lousy, greedy bastards overboard
The decades of the Do-Gooders increasing our awareness of possible “win-win” possibilities and of the Hybrids backing their “we care about you” lip service with actual service has brought us to another realization:
There’s a price to everything, and if I don’t pay the price, someone else will, and somehow, some way, on some sunny day, they’re going to get even and make me pay.
And this has been an important change in the understanding of energy efficiency and global warming: the environment has a limited capacity within our human-lifetime periods to absorb civilization’s byproducts and transform them into resources. It usually needs geologic time to turn dead trees and critters into oil and gas. In the meantime, the trash piles up in the streets.
The solution: create less trash.
Thanks to the Do-Gooders, we have greater awareness or our actions and the desire to change, and have the Hybrids offering ways to change.
And the result is a shift of power away from the “I want your goodies for nothing” crowd. It’s now Power to the People.
But wait, there’s more …
to the Resource Matrix
Just because you know about fossil fuels, their finite amounts, their polluting, warming effects on the environment, and alternatives offered by the Hybrids – even if you have done your part to the best of your ability to reduce, reuse, and recycle — you haven’t escaped the Resource Matrix.
Energy to power our lives is one component of the Resource Matrix. And it’s the most visible in discussions of global warming and being resourceful. But there’s more:
In the next three articles, we will talk about concepts concerning the resource that makes up 75% of the planet and 75% of your body:
You’ll learn that, although 75% of the planet is water, only 3% of water is potable (can be consumed), and of that 3%, only a small fraction is available, and of that small fraction, only a small fraction is potable, because the rest is polluted for hundreds of years to come.
You’ll learn how the actions of an illiterate, lice-infested, foul-mouthed peasant on the other side of the globe affects you where you are.
You’ll learn how, unlike oil, water is transferred invisibly from poor to rich by sleight of hand, like paying your utility bill through your online bank account.
You’ll learn how poor water decisions, rather than fossil fuel’s atmospheric effects described in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, leads to those drybeds of the formerly humongous Aral Sea and along the Amazon.
You’ll learn how to measure the global water impact of any nation, city, corporation, even yourself – to the nearest gallon or liter.
You’ll learn the little changes you can make – the water equivalent of “change your incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lamps” – and still be able to take your wastefully long showers.
And all of this is for one purpose:
To help you see the Resource Matrix, everywhere, all around you.
And now I would like to offer you free access to powerful info on energy efficiency that’s easy to read and cuts through all this “green” information clutter — so you can literally start making positive changes today.
You can access it now by going to: http://www.a19.com/pub/articles/
From Cinnamon Alvarez: Founder, A19 — woman-owned green manufacturer of hand-made ceramic lighting fixtures
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