Thursday, April 7, 2011

Go Local - It Applies Across the Board


Grow your food locally.
Buy your goods locally.
Manage your land locally.
Generate your power locally.
Treat your waste locally.
Govern your people locally.

Doesn't it all just make sense?  Certainly there are aspects of 'living' that benefit from a more global perspective.  The sharing of trade, resources, ideas, people, etc. all can deliver strong and healthy benefits to the global society and it's continued advancement.  But are there not also significant detractors from the ubiquitous application of the bigger is better and growth in the only objective?  I have for the longest time never quite understood the growth for growth's sake, and not with a particular purpose in mind.  But then some of my most intense feelings come from process for the sake of process - it's because we've always done it that way.

Certainly population growth is a (and probably 'the') driver.  But isn't the 'carrying capacity' of the earth a large ranging number?  If we were all hunting and gathering, the estimate is 100M.   If we all lived at the level of a middle-class family in a developed country, the capacity is 2B.  We're approaching 7B?  

So what has gone wrong?  Was Thomas Malthus right after all?  Why is technology NOT solving our most dire of challenges?  Food production.  Clean water.  Civil harmony.  The world feels very out-of-sync right now to me.  The almost infinite interconnections of our globalization of almost everything has come to be a potential 'achilles heel' in modern society.  The stories of disruptions to international trade and commerce are almost daily - as a function of production, connectivity, costs, and as simply as people not getting along.  Or maybe it is something that we did not expect.  The unintended consequences.  The outlier of modeling results.  The infinitely low probability event.

I think that is an aspect that has become most confounding.  Isn't it always those things that we don't anticipate that send our decision process and our ability to continue to function in a manner we have become accustomed to into disarray.  We made the best decisions we could with the information we had.  Those parameters changed and now (something) is  _ _ _ _ ed.

The problem is that with all the interconnectedness - and the sample size that we are dealing with - like trading futures - when things go good, they go really good.  And when things go bad, they go really bad.  I don't think we will ever tech our way out of all of the challenges - but the scale to which our mistakes apply might be a very important consideration.  Just as in trading, size selection and risk management are paramount - unless your account is infinite.  The world's account is NOT infinite.  We must take a different approach.

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