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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Consumption

A couple weeks ago, the dehumidifier I purchased a little over a year ago failed. I think the coolant must have leaked out because it was still making lots of noise. So much noise in fact that I had to turn it off when I was in the room. I went without it for about a week, but the humidity outside wasn’t abating like it’s supposed to this time of year.

Then, I remembered that I still had the old unit (a Frigidaire). I pulled it into the room, turned it on and lo and behold, it is now quieter than my...ahem...new one. When I bought the new one, it was quiet and it has a humidistat to set the actual humidity level rather than a dial with some numbers that have nothing to do with humidity percentages. The reviews were good on it so I was hoping it would work well.

After a few months of operation the new one started getting a bit louder. It was still quieter than the old one. By the time I pulled it out, even if it hadn’t been broken, it had no redeeming features over my seven year old one that had lasted for about five years of summer use. The reason I didn’t run right out and buy a new one was because I will only need it for a few more weeks and then the air around Michigan will dry out enough that I’ll be thinking about switching in my new humidifier (that will be on its second season) and I didn’t want the warranty clock to be ticking while it sits all winter long.

Now, I’m rethinking the whole purchase thing. I need to acknowledge that I’m as guilty as many of us in that I buy things I want because I can afford them. I like buying things. I don’t even know why. I guess the desire to acquire is built in. This probably worked out well for us humans when there were just a few of us running around the planet, but now things have gotten substantially more crowded.

As we face a planet that seems increasingly small and inadequate to the task of fulfilling our every desire, we have two stark choices: A) get off this rock, or B) stop consuming so much. Since our government seems unable to organize a company picnic let alone space colonization, I’m thinking we need to focus on consumption.

The challenge there is that our entire economic system depends on it. The more consumption we have, the better our economy does. As a matter of fact, if the talking heads in the media start saying the economy is going to go bad, we stop buying stuff just in case they’re right and...BAM! They’re right. All the pundits can pat themselves on the back and go home for a nice steak dinner because they don’t lose their jobs even when the economy sucks.

So, if our economy wasn’t based on consumption, could it be based on conservation? I’ve spent far more time thinking about this than I should. I think it could be done. Currency could be in the form of conservation credits. We would need to set up baseline consumption values for everything (and I mean everything -- just like we have dollar values on everything now).

Any time someone conserves below the baseline, they earn a profit. If they go over? It’s a loss. People could get all creative trading high consumption products and services for more conservative ones. Hey, it could be fun! We’re already seeing some evidence in this direction. When I was in Colorado last month, they charged for grocery bags. If that’s not a consumption loss, I don’t know what is.

Personally, I’d rather see us get off this rock, but until that happens. I’ll settle for more conservation.
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