I keep striving to see the Big Picture, which some consider a flaw, but while in that mode I chanced upon a book that may have given me a Glimpse.

I recommend reading, “The Plundered Planet: Why We Must—and How We Can—Manage Nature for Global Prosperity,” the latest work by Paul Collier. Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University, and a former director of Development Research at the World Bank. He demonstrates an understanding of how countries and economies work--and why they don’t work--which is essential to this discussion. He explains his concepts clearly and concisely, without descending into economic jargon. This book is guaranteed to rattle some cages and slay more than a few sacred cows, which generally can be a positive quality. In short, Collier’s proposal makes a lot of sense.

It is generally accepted that the pursuit of energy conservation and efficiency is a worthy and necessary goal for the U.S. As home energy professionals, we work hard to assure the success of our businesses and to promote our industry. As concerned homeowners and citizens, we are investing time and resources in efficiency measures that we believe are good not just for ourselves, but for the world at large. That is why it is so important to periodically review our policy positions from a much broader global perspective. We don’t want to win the battle but lose the war.

Collier examines the basic economic assumptions that drive most policy now, and shows how these assumptions have contributed to the plundering of the world’s natural resources. He sees environmentalism as having two distinct poles. Environmental pragmatism allows for extraction and use of natural assets as long as the harvest is sustainable, and future generations of humanity are suitably compensated with other assets of equivalent value. Large-scale commercial farming, genetically engineered crops and nuclear power are also considered pragmatic. Environmental romanticism, on the other hand, he describes as an idyllic “at one with nature” view that calls for small-scale farming, renewable energy, anti-corporate sentiment, no nuclear power and preservation of nature at all costs. These two poles of environmentalism are contrasted with the “get it while you can” mentality that typifies most extractive industries today. He explains why cap-and-trade scenarios are doomed to fail, and offers a viable alternative. Social justice, ethics and the plight of the world’s poor are front-and-center in Collier’s framework.

Humanity is facing a triple juggernaut of increasing global demand for energy, increasing world population and the climate altering effects of increasing global carbon dioxide emissions. The historical pattern of U.S. energy policy has been to follow paths that mostly benefit national and corporate interests, and that have populist appeal. This is basically an isolationist and self-interested approach, and is no longer suitable because the global economy is now too interconnected, and environmental stakes are too high.

Interestingly, Collier closes by asserting that the only way for these ideas to take hold is bottom-up; that is, for citizens everywhere to become more informed and engaged, and to begin demanding changes in their countries. That’s a tall order, but it would be nice to know that our efforts at energy efficiency will mean something in the long run.

 

This post originally appeared on Home Energy Consultants' House Whisperer Blog.

Views: 57

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros Forum to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros Forum

Comment by David Allen on February 10, 2011 at 12:03pm

Gary,

Thanks, nice wrap-up below.

"That’s a tall order, but it would be nice to know that our efforts at energy efficiency will mean something in the long run".

Forum Discussions

What made this chimney fall down?

Started by Eric Kjelshus in General Forum. Last reply by Eric Kjelshus on Tuesday. 7 Replies

How would you insulate this roof?

Started by David Butler in General Forum. Last reply by Dave Taylor Nov 11. 61 Replies

Manual J (SD) for custom, luxury homes

Started by Dav Camras in HVAC. Last reply by Dav Camras Nov 10. 3 Replies

Quantitative methods for residential zoning

Started by Brett in HVAC. Last reply by David Butler Nov 9. 1 Reply

Latest Activity

Brendan Reid posted a discussion

Speed Tips For Duct Airtightness Testing?

Anyone like to share their favorite ways to speed up duct airtightness ("Ductblaster") tests?I'm…See More
1 hour ago
Don Fugler added a discussion to the group HVAC
Thumbnail

joining ducts

A question came up on exhaust duct connections. I have always considered screws necessary for…See More
1 hour ago
Don Fugler joined Allison A. Bailes III's group
Thumbnail

HVAC

HVAC design, Manuals J, S, T, & D, Duct leakage, Air flow, ENERGY STAR new home requirements,…See More
2 hours ago
Profile IconSonny Roncancio and Chester Energy & Policy joined Home Energy Pros Forum
22 hours ago
Ryan Moore updated an event
Thumbnail

LEED for Homes Green Rater Training at Fort Collins, CO

December 7, 2017 to December 8, 2017
Green Insight will host this 2-day training in Fort Collins, CO December 7-8,…See More
yesterday
Rodney Bailey liked Rodney Bailey's discussion Energy audit equipment for sale.
yesterday
tedkidd liked Mike Rogers's blog post Focusing on payback to motivate customers?
Thursday
Home Energy Magazine's blog post was featured
Wednesday

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2017   Created by Home Performance Coalition (HPC)   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service