The Case for Compression

The case for Compression rests on no single, simple threat. We can’t support the present human population level, seven billion, headed for nine, by going back to a primeval environment. However, our existence is symbiotic with that of our home, earth, so neither can we keep pretending that a few minor changes will suffice for us to not merely survive, but have a desirable quality of life. Some brief points:

  • Population growth packs humans ever more tightly on a finite planet.
  • All global resources have ill-defined limits, but they not infinite, which is what mainstream economic thinking de facto assumes.
  • Working less and less concentrated sources of energy and ores entails more risks, more property damage, and often, unknown environmental damage. This displaces or discomfits more and more people until they push back. We want the benefits of industrial society. No one wants their back yard torn up to get them.
  • Overuse and misuse of resources imperils the ecosphere in many ways. This peril does not boil down to one simple issue.
  • Overconsumption isn’t good for humans either, as illustrated by obesity problems.

A perverse view of environmental issues is that we increase atmospheric CO2 every time we breathe, but few people want to stop doing it. However, our mere existence does not tax the planet very much. Our overuse of resources does. Most of us want to stay alive as long as possible, enjoying some quality time while doing it. Quality of life is subjective and a very personal thing, but profligate resource consumption can’t be part of it. To reconcile this, we need a huge shift in basic thinking.

The case for Compression is the first chapter of the book, plus most of the updates found here. Everyone has to struggle to keep up with all the threats in the case for Compression, and they keep building up. That’s one of the reasons that organizations in Compression need to develop superior learning capability. But despite the complexity, the simple case for Compression is that consuming less stuff alleviates many of the problems that we have created for ourselves, even ones we aren’t aware of.

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