How cool is that?

June 1st, 2009, 11:33 am

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MonoNoAware
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Ok... this probably ( or maybe not) belongs to the non design related topic, but its so dead that i am posting it here.

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/


June 1, 2009, 7:25 AM
A Push to Stop Crimes Against the Future
By ANDREW C. REVKIN


Will someone someday defend an unborn generation in court?
The World Future Council, a group of 50 activists, politicians and thinkers from around the world, is focused on finding ways to prevent today’s actions from constraining tomorrow’s choices. The group just wrapped up a two-day symposium in Montreal at which more than 100 experts in international law explored ways to use legal tools, most of which are oriented toward doling out justice among those alive now, to avert what amount to crimes against the future.

These include such actions as driving species to extinction and adding long-lived greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in ways that have few impacts now, but could disrupt climate patterns, ocean ecosystems and coastal settlements in decades to come. In a news release, the council said that world leaders, through decades of statements on sustainable development, have pledged to balance current needs with the obligation to avoid impoverishing the future. “But the legal enforcement of these agreements is still very limited,” it noted.

In a news release, C.G. Weeramantry, a member of the council and former vice president of the International Court of Justice, described the group’s goal this way:

We are today using international law in a heartless fashion, for we think only of those who are alive here and now and shut our eyes to the rest of the vast family of humanity who are yet to come. This forecloses to future generations their rights to the basic fundamentals of civilized existence: acknowledging them as holders of rights in the eyes of our law.”
This harks back to a post here about a proposal for the creation of a government position of “ legal guardian of future generations.”

What do you think? Are we mature enough as a species to safeguard the rights of future generations without the threat of a day in court?
"If you put smart technology into a pointless product, the result will be a stupid product."

John Thackara

June 1st, 2009, 12:00 pm

simon_four_fingers
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Well if I am reading that right.
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June 1st, 2009, 12:28 pm

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Pretty sure there are laws in place today, in some way or form, that were written decades ago. Those who wrote and voted for many of those laws are probably long gone today. When the Prohibition was introduced, were they punishing all who made alcohol before that day? No, after that day.

So what does this World Future Council think makes them so special? They think they're the only ones looking out for future generations?

Re:

July 26th, 2009, 5:24 pm

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MonoNoAware
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NURB wrote:Pretty sure there are laws in place today, in some way or form, that were written decades ago. Those who wrote and voted for many of those laws are probably long gone today. When the Prohibition was introduced, were they punishing all who made alcohol before that day? No, after that day.
I don't really understand the prohibition law comparison. And of course there are old laws still in place today, duuuuh...

But that is beside the point.
I think this address the potential long terms consequences of today's actions on the Planet.
And the management/use of resources, that can have negative consequences that may not be felt today or in 50 years, but will have a longer term impact. It is about sustainability.
And about the fact we will not be there to respond to the future humans that may live in a less habitable planet for the damages caused today. So this group is proposing to create a body that defends the interest of the future generations.
And.... I don't see it as them being the only one looking for the future, there may be others... But I think the more people doing it, the better.
"If you put smart technology into a pointless product, the result will be a stupid product."

John Thackara

Re: How cool is that?

July 26th, 2009, 7:02 pm

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So this group is proposing to create a body that defends the interest of the future generations.
And.... I don't see it as them being the only one looking for the future, there may be others... But I think the more people doing it, the better.
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding." ~ Louis D. Brandeis
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Re: How cool is that?

July 26th, 2009, 7:05 pm

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I think it applies to more than just design.

Re: How cool is that?

July 26th, 2009, 7:51 pm

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Please excuse me mono, I do not mean to come across as glib.

It's just that my life's experience shows me that little good ever seems to come from "men" imposing their will on everyone else, via sanctimonious litigation.

To paraphrase NURB with an old colloquialism, "Who died and made them God?"
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Re: How cool is that?

July 27th, 2009, 5:43 am

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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding." ~ Louis D. Brandeis
I guess in order to understand the reasons why people plunder the world, you have to understant the system we live in.

The prevailing Social System of the world today is Capitalism. Capitalism, which is often placed
under the umbrella of another theoretical concept known as the “Free Market”, is defined as: “an
economic system by which the means of production are owned by private persons, operated for
profit, and where investments, distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services are
predominantly determined through the operation of a ‘free market’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

A “Free market” is essentially an unregulated trading orientation where “the prices of goods and
services are arranged completely by the mutual consent of sellers and buyers; hence, the market
forces of supply and demand determine prices and allocate available supplies, without government
intervention”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market

The level of a product or service’s ‘value’ is derived essentially from two factors:
1)The scarcity (availability) of the materials used.
2)The amount of human labor required to produce a product/service.

Now, if something is made out of abundant materials, and made without human labor
through the use of automation, the value of that would be very low or zero.
If everything was made this way, the whole system would colapse because there would be
no jobs, no consumeres and no economic growth.
In other words, it is the requirement of perpetual ‘Consumption’ that keeps the Employer in business
and maintains the Employee’s job.

Because of this, nothing physically produced can ever maintain an operational lifespan longer than what can
be endured in order to maintain economic integrity through ‘cyclical consumption’. The introduction of new
products and services must be constant to offset any increased efficiency of the prior generations of production,
regardless of functional utility, generating endless waste.

In other words, waste is a deliberate byproduct of industry’s need to keep ‘cyclical consumption’
going. This means that the replaced/obsolete product is expelled, often to landfills, polluting the
environment. The constant multiplicity accelerates the pollution.

‘The Need for Cyclical Consumption’, which could be considered the ‘engine’ that powers the entire
economic system, is inherently dangerous and corrupt, for the nature of the necessity does not allow
for environmentally sustainable practices to be maximized. The constant re-creation of inferior
products wastes available resources and pollutes the environment.

To express this from a different angle, imagine the economic ramifications of production methods
that strategically maximized the efficiency and sustainability of every creation, using the best-known
materials and techniques available at that time. Imagine a car that was so well designed, it didn’t need
maintenance for 100 years. Imagine a house that was built from fireproof materials where all
appliances, electrical operations, plumbing and the like were made from the most impermeable,
highest integrity resources available on earth. In such a saner world, where we actually created things
to last , inherently minimizing pollution/waste due to the lack of multiplicity and maximization of
efficiency, a monetary system would be impossible , for ‘consumption cyclically’ would slow
tremendously, forever weakening so called “economic growth”.

long post sorry :oops:
you can draw the rest out yourselves
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Re: How cool is that?

July 27th, 2009, 1:18 pm

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long post sorry :oops: you can draw the rest out yourselves
not at all ... please conclude your thoughts. It was just getting interesting; I'd like to know where you're headed with this line of reasoning.
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Re: How cool is that?

July 27th, 2009, 3:13 pm

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I was 100% with you until this:
nunoCR wrote:In other words, waste is a deliberate byproduct of industry’s need to keep ‘cyclical consumption’
going. This means that the replaced/obsolete product is expelled, often to landfills, polluting the
environment. The constant multiplicity accelerates the pollution.
This might've been a true mindset 10 or 20 years ago. But nowadays it's proven possible to produce many 'necessities' with very low waste. Just in the evergy market, which is like the nervous system of the economy, there are alternatives with VERY low environmental impact.
Couple that with the growing trend of using another industry's waste as your materia prima, making production and profit from someone else's waste. Or your own waste.

There is much truth in this though: "the nature of the necessity does not allow for environmentally sustainable practices to be maximized". I agree with you that the profit system is currently set up for lowest-common-denominator practices when it comes to environmental policies. You make enough effort to just meet the standards, but not much after that since profits start declining past this sweet spot. I guess if we raise the standards high enough, everyone will have to 'just meet them'.

Re: How cool is that?

July 28th, 2009, 3:31 pm

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d-flux wrote:I was 100% with you until this:
nunoCR wrote:In other words, waste is a deliberate byproduct of industry’s need to keep ‘cyclical consumption’
going. This means that the replaced/obsolete product is expelled, often to landfills, polluting the
environment. The constant multiplicity accelerates the pollution.
This might've been a true mindset 10 or 20 years ago. But nowadays it's proven possible to produce many 'necessities' with very low waste. Just in the evergy market, which is like the nervous system of the economy, there are alternatives with VERY low environmental impact.
Couple that with the growing trend of using another industry's waste as your materia prima, making production and profit from someone else's waste. Or your own waste.

There is much truth in this though: "the nature of the necessity does not allow for environmentally sustainable practices to be maximized". I agree with you that the profit system is currently set up for lowest-common-denominator practices when it comes to environmental policies. You make enough effort to just meet the standards, but not much after that since profits start declining past this sweet spot. I guess if we raise the standards high enough, everyone will have to 'just meet them'.
just because we can, doesn't mean we will.
That mind set is still true today, take a look at Gillette for example, they make their profit from selling refills at monopoly price, since no one can copy them, but they manage to attract consumers by selling the "handle" very cheaply. this is called a loss leader business. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader

Obviously, one could make a shaving razor last for years, by keeping it dry, since water can damage the blade, by using a simple sharpener when the blade got dull, or maybe a blade made out of a very resistant alloy that just would not get dull easily.

The problems with this are that 1-If products were made to last for extended periods of time, people would not need to repeatedly replace, update and fix their items as much, and a vast amount of revenue and jobs would be lost by industry at large, slowing the economy. 2-if a company was to use the best known design and the best known materials, they would likely have a much higher production cost and would likely lose a competitive edge.
Unfortunately a company's and it's workers survival is based on profit, not sustainability and abundance.

The energy market...
I see the transition happening from fuels to "green" (and don't include dams in green!) and that is positive. But there is a problem, financial costs. It's cheaper today to run a coal energy plant than to build, for example, solar panels that would produce the same amount of energy. The only reason why these are being pushed is because of governmental aid and support. Developing countries, as a result, are under heavy pressure.

Reintroducing waste materials back into the production cycle is great for everyone, except the materials extraction industries.
But we should broaden the meaning of waste here, when a company builds something, that is bound to fail after 5 years (like the auto industry) you are still creating waste for profitable reasons. And this makes cyclical consumption and planed obsolescence a reality.

We could start talking about ethics and responsible production and consumption, more laws, but why patchwork something that is going in the wrong direction?

There are more than enough resources to feed, house and care for everybody and give us a good standard of living, but we live in a monetary system, and as Bernard Lietaer, designer of the EU currency system points out:

“Greed and Competition are not the result of immutable human temperament…greed and fear of scarcity are in fact
being continuously created and amplified as a direct result of the kind of money we are using…We can produce more
than enough food to feed everybody…but there is clearly not enough money to pay for it all. The scarcity is in our national currencies. In fact, the job of the central banks is to create and maintain that currency scarcity. The direct
consequence is that we have to fight with each other in order to survive.”

If profit can be made as a result of scarcity generated by environmental pollution, then this creates a sick reinforcement of
indifference to environmental concern. If companies know they can make more money by having their resources or products remain scarce, how can a world of abundance ever occur? It can’t, for the corporation will be motivated to create the scarcity if need be.
The Zeitgeist Movement
the best things in life are not things.

Re: How cool is that?

July 28th, 2009, 3:35 pm

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by the way you can get most of what i've posted here
http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/The ... vement.pdf
hope you all get interested. :)
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Re: How cool is that?

July 28th, 2009, 4:24 pm

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I was with you until your second post. You went from what sounded like a person that was wrapping their head around a subject to someone preaching.

We all know that we live and work in a society of over consumption. I am sick and tired of hearing the "activists" barking that its bad but offering NO SOLUTIONS.

Get off the soap box, go away and come back with a solution or three that are viable, and then I will be more than happy to have a conversation with you. Telling everyone to stop making product and to stop consuming is just plain not going to happen.

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Re: How cool is that?

July 29th, 2009, 3:21 am

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well i don't have a definitive solution but this is a start that could be worked on.
http://www.thevenusproject.com
it sure wont be easy to implement but at least sound better than what we have today.
others talk about going back to governmental issued interest free money, a money system in which people would pay a small fee if they kept money out of circulation, local green economies, slow money, transition towns, communism :lol: ... the list goes on
the problem with those is that they don't address the root causes of the problems we see today, they are just patchworks to keep people from abusing the flaws in the system for personal gain.

I'm not totally against capitalism, if that's what you think, it had it's role but today it's only stifling humanity the way I see it.
I'm just pointing out to people the reasons why the world has it's flaws and the reason why unsustainable practices are rewarded.

I'm not trying to tell people to stop consuming or producing, just to stop what is unnecessary.
The Zeitgeist Movement
the best things in life are not things.

Re: How cool is that?

July 29th, 2009, 3:22 pm

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There may or may not be more than enough resources to provide adequately for all people on the planet but the problem is efficient distribution. It's nice to imagine that, if we all could just agree to share everything, we'd all end up with what we need. This just isn't realistic. We would then really have shortages.

Scarcity and uneven distribution of resources is not something that comes about intentionally as if by some cartel of capitalists conspiring to pollute the world. It requires effort and innovation to gather and create and produce and distribute all the stuff that we use and need. People have myriad interests and incentives for their behavior that drives the direction of all that stuff and effort, and this is true from the punk on the street to the President of the US. Even people who will claim to act exclusively for the benefit of others or the greater good or the new world order have self interest in mind - it makes them feel better. Remove profit and self interest goes right with it, along with our precious dreams of everyone drinking a coke in perfect harmony.

This culture of consumption that you disparage doesn't just exist for the enrichment of the producer class (and by the way, they are definitely filthy rich). It exists for the benefit of consumers who grow in number every year as population grows. Where does the consumer fit in your model? Mindless robots gobbling up whatever springs from the evil works of greedy industrialists? People can and will demand more efficient and sustainable products and eventually producers will sell them. This is the beauty of the free markets - self correction. Your example of the auto industry is a good one. Low quality products that don't last is what drove Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy. Consumers chose quality that lasts and now the auto makers are scrambling to re-tool to give it to them.

Central Banks currency scarcity policy is another issue entirely. The reason is to gradually and continually devalue their currency so investors will buy their debt. In this way they can run deficits to fund whatever social engineering project is fashionable. The consequence is we all grow a little poorer every year. The answer is not to make everyone poor by getting rid of currency. The answer is to return to precious metal backing of currency. For the last 7000 years people have assigned value to gold & silver and there's no reason to believe they won't for the next 7000.

Anyway, I suggest you lighten up a little bit. According to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, entropy and pollution are inevitable. We're going to have to learn to make the best of it.
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