The World Watch Institute’s early call to “minimize consumption” and “maximize well-being” require altering consumption on levels never considered. If these unexpected demands for change are to succeed, offering choices for renewing a sense of abundance will become essential. However, compared to the things people are encouraged to enjoy, the battle for change is all uphill.
Principles of Volumetric Containment
What other kinds of living could resolve the mystery of the human demand for abundance? What was it that Michael Lewis called the “New New Thing” at the turn of the century? The stories were good, but the answer remains elusive. There was a hint, a slim indication that a new framework for the consumer began to grow in places that encompass a community’s living/working cycles differently. Simple things like clean air and water, food, and environmental security could be enough to drive innovation and progress but take heed, the work to distinguish dangers of consumption to human well-being activities more clearly for consumers is well underway.
Thanks to the effectiveness of data management and complete cost verification and accounting systems, an automated consumer is possible. Consumption tied to industrial ecology through open database connectivity (ODBC) and Blockchain technology guarantees privacy and property. The presumed threat to privacy is a stall. Added public awareness of an unwanted injection into the nonprivate realms will become essential choices. Market economics will not be enough to reduce consumption. Therefore, as the need for limits and restrictions grows ever more apparent, the addition of more open forms of participation becomes possible. The fits and starts of “The Good Guide” is a good example of the issues (wiki here) and in a larger context (here).
In part, the solution is product content as a health issue, not unit volume. Regulatory intervention is clear on this. The desire for heightened levels of non-material living has a core of “self-renewal” compensations, especially if the sense of containment within a network of self and community-owned or controlled joys can provide growth.
The size of a place and its level of consumption are manageable and predictable given a contained environment and choice of density. With it, input/output estimates are confirmable when consumption data streams are also freely given whether the containment is a dense metropolitan core or a suburban area. Examples such as carbon emissions are consequential, however, the emissions per capita decrease when disaggregated for density. The design of residential clusters of 8-10,000 individuals forms a viable setting for meeting essential services given a specific set of age cohorts. At the same time, the social and economic networks facilitated in these places become part of the global communications and rapid transit landscape. Given a known set of boundaries and destinations, the freedom of movement remains unabridged.
Osmosis in your biology and chemistry 101 classes describes concentration change. When fluids move through membranes, they will balance. In this sense, all the parts of the world move as entities in constant motion – they too are fluid. Select and follow any one of them as a part of this fluid, living or not, and you will also find a set of filters.
Containment is not as threatening as it sounds. These three things: motion, containment, and filters or screens, offer a way to examine the principles of volumetric exchange. The earth is in a continuous, unstoppable series of movements from one state to another. Everything moves from the tectonic activity below a mountain to the shell holding the nearly undetectable potential for life in a seed. Humans are the apex analysts of movement within the structure of space-time. This interest culminates in the Large Hadron Collider or the Webb telescope. The motive for control mechanisms of motions, containment, and filters might be described in this way.
Organizations use energy to put things in motion to define potential value and deflect or defer every cost possible to maximize that value.1[i] The rules for the former will stand; those for the latter must change, so they probably will. The value question then falls on the amount of death involved.
A larger one best defines a “system.” The earth, for example, cannot be well characterized without placement in a “solar system” and that system in a galaxy of stars. The lack of containment within a system, on the other hand, allows deferrals because it makes a material use event challenging to measure – like smoke. Thus, people such as Jack Dangermond (here) are attempting to measure every challenge to human well-being on a global scale. The accuracy of estimates such as parts per million of greenhouse gas production or gallons of water used per capita requires much smaller volumetric boundaries than the entire earth. Therefore, one implementation factor is triggered.
Measures of well-being include a promise of hope, such as a life without fear of degradation and indignity. Acquiring and applying filters to eliminate these experiences requires the intellectual rigor to learn new ways. However, the conflict inherent in the “me and us vs. the rest of them and others” will require added insight. Contemporary “have vs. have not” data is insufficient. Therefore, it will be necessary to include methods for evaluating the knowing group from the not knowing group to establish osmosis with ideas and values to yield the satisfaction of balance.
Human expertise reinforces the success of humankind in many ways. The “as is above, as is below” context of life science contains essential data. It offers a view of fully actualized life in the spiritual sense. Although the ant genome is smaller (millions of base pairs versus billions in humans) and considered “below,” they are the same genes. The question is will humans be exceptional creators of events in the use of material from the earth’s crust, or is the earth just a human anthill easily altered by catastrophic events?
Deciding how or when to place limits on human consumption is the challenge of our time. However, the use of these three concepts offers promise. Measures of the “have and have not” require outstanding, thoughtful efforts to understand what “have” means. To differentiate the knowing from the unknowing will need the discipline to know how and why every effort becomes wrong. It is discoverable as a disruption in the “as is above as is below” paradigm. It is also a part of the personal, the sociopolitical, and the objective context of truth. The first order of business is, therefore, to understand volume completely.
The term “volumetric containment” generally refers to events such as spill prevention. On the other hand, failing prevention, practical entropy, or “everything spreads” also creates conditions specific to the survival of a species, such as establishing value in order.
For example, only the fit survives as it spreads an objective truth. However, this is only partially correct.2[ii] More broadly applied, the forces of containment and dispersal change the meaning of personal freedom and well-being. When subjected to them, the desire for liberty through prosperity is invoked.
The biological world deploys evolutionary processes such as natural selection and extinction amidst changing environmental conditions. The science of millennial change is objective; the economics of annual change, on the other hand, requires drastic improvement. Yet, perhaps, one of the most incredible waves of scientific understanding in the millennial sense is that the earth circles the only energy source it would ever need every day for the next hundred million years, give or take a couple million. The volume of time is therefore dispositive. That leaves the use of space.
The first question is resolved by admitting that there are no limits on consumption, and no one knows how except in observing price mechanisms. That leads to the second question.
- How is human consumption limited today?
- What is the role of catastrophe in resolving conflict?
Urban development replicates biological systems with simulator mechanisms. Rivers become conduits and pipes. Caves become buildings. Heat is contained by burning ancient sun products. Dense urban areas like New York City and the metro area mimic these biological processes, but another one lies outside of this metaphor. A land-use malaise of scraps spoils from contiguities such as shacks and mansions, office parks, industrial clusters, retail strips, malls, and x-urban second homes, rural, x-rural, and wilderness.
The human response to devastating events stimulates high levels of post-trauma accountability and acts of philanthropy. However, it also reveals a severe problem in public policy described as catastrophic resolution (more here). The ultimate existential question is thus thrown on the table like a poker chip: There is no way in hell a price mechanism would work against the relentless rise of warming seas. So should governments deploy cash on carbon pricing and a robust global collections agent? Again, the consensus is clear – a weak hand takes decades to play with a tendency to bluff.
A careful look at recent activity expresses an extensive list of more significant problems. For example, rules regarding development along coastlines throughout the Pacific Rim are failures. Read the building codes of Haiti. Examine levee maintenance, management, and construction practices along the LA Gulf Coast. Analyze the storage of “spent” nuclear materials and other waste, review the growing acreage of brown and gray fields, and so on and on. These and many other brewing catastrophes define costs hidden in a containment process devoid of viable filters or scrutiny.
Severely flawed containments surround us as outright, culpable expressions of avarice dangerously applauded from quarter to quarter. Dismissing all these events as forms of bounded rationality is pointless. Facing up to its complexity requires real-world examples built on the idea of a fully contained city that wastes nothing.
The first prompt on understanding containment is in language and perception. Mark Balassare and Paul Lewis wrote, “The Complexity of Public Attitudes toward Compact Development: Survey Evidence from Five States” (here). The survey asked respondents to make tradeoffs between dense places and sprawling places. In these transactions, the respondents tended to be more receptive to the idea of living in a mixed-use area over one described as having high density. Thus, the survey sought to discover consumer preferences involving four dimensions of “compactness” 1) mixed-use, 2) commuting, 3) choice of residence, including infill, and 4) a choice of transit options.
Developers know that one does not occur without the other three, but the perception of “density” varies widely. For example, in New York City, the average is 35,000 people per square mile. Nevertheless, nearly all its neighborhoods retain an extensive list of mixed uses in the convenience goods and services sector, from almost 90,000 people per square mile in Manhattan’s Upper East Side to the 5,000 per square mile in Hollis, Queens.
In The Report’s brief e-mail exchange about the article, Lewis said, “it’s true, the “d” word [density] scares off respondents. However, they are more willing to embrace mixed-use and a small home, short commute combination, and infill development (only asked in the 2002 California survey). The article, published in JAPA in April 2010, includes an analysis of respondents from four other states interviewed in 2007. These were Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada.
Another prompt on knowing people’s perception regarding containment is within the values discussions by Michael Sandel of Harvard University.l He has produced a series of lectures on bounded rationality. Everyone should sense emotional density in new ways, not just a few hundred wide-eyed, ivy-league undergrads in Cambridge. (YouTube: Be encouraged to ponder Sandel’s discussion. Sandel opens the series with, “What is the Right Thing to Do?” with a warning of the risks, “this will change you and put you on the path from which you cannot return.” Cut to the end. And it is possible to absorb the natural tragedies built into the human condition peacefully.
Whether known or unknown, the delicate membrane of people with high-quality thinking helps produce a collective human intellect. A person can instantly join a lecture hall at Harvard and hear brilliant thoughts in 2009. This is true, but only if the link remains and does not become priced as property.
Self-containment and perceptions of the purpose of individuality itself will change for no other reason than the force of intellect and history that Sandel presents. But, unfortunately, his ideas seem distant from the work required of urban development, real estate investment, and land use policy in the decades ahead. What effect could this reflection have on governance at the local, state, or federal level? There are twenty-four lectures, all of them imply the gap can be closed, but in his first lecture, he is convinced all of it only tells us what we already know. The sense of unlimited access is an excellent place to value density. Finding the diversity of density is the only way to close this section on containment. After that, however, new ways of confronting the conflicts between humans and their habitats occur.
Close to the center of this series of prompts, the first step in this direction is the “difference principle,” introduced by John Rawls. He brought me all the categories required to move from one containment level to another. The first reaction to this utility touches on the three measures of practice.
- Discerning the features of one life that sustain all life
- The rights of humans are subject to fair consent procedures
- Virtues and skills advance in the social position.
Density is an illusion without a boundary. A broad set of unpalatable but easily anticipated restraints on individuals can throw a wet cloak on the shoulders of everyone. Projecting along the architectural walls of our communities, we see an array of feudalistic, “gated-lifestyle” fantasies. In addition, many residential locations include new forms of physical and digital machicolation.
These ramparts of urbanism represent “personalized security marketing.” They feed the survivalist view, but the truth said, these acts are as helpful as a 1950s atomic bomb shelter. The purpose of containment is to measure flow, in and out. Movement in every aspect is the only practical measure of protection. Yet, without the design of filters and membranes, the self-assurance of society fails. An excellent place to start is to examine the science used to advance tactical osmosis.
The ultimate neo-Malthusian implementation of destiny as essential to the measurement of life cycle cost cannot occur without a far better understanding of urban energy.3 For some time, engineers have deployed the sophisticated science of FIT – it means “failure in time” and speaks to the explosive investment in biomimicry, biotechnology, and genetic engineering. It is not planned obsolescence; the science behind FIT capitalizes on the physical limits of all things. The concept developed similarly to the idea of an “urban metabolism” as a measurement instrument.
For this to be a helpful tool, a better sense of boundaries of the States of the Republic are arbitrary constructs of uniformity. Nevertheless, some respect for geography does allow the application of FIT as policy. Because geographically defined regions represent economic activity far more accurately than the Republic’s political structure. They have a composition of “circles represented by cities” within circles that represent these geographies in a metaphorical sense. The process looks inward. It is an object that shows its boundary to the world. The grid of latitudes and longitudes do not.
The states’ boundaries use an imaginary grid stretched across the earth. This coordinate scheme intends to locate or identify precise geographic positions. The idea is sourced to 190–120 BC, when Hipparchus (Greek mathematician) laid the foundation for trigonometry. It is the system used to draw the boundaries of the States.
Today your phone knows where you are to within a meter using satellites that encircle the earth. Imagine a ring representing the cities on the map (below) and the mass beneath each to be the grid. At what point must the rings be closed? In November 2007, Bruce Katz (here) presented the challenges of the “mega” urban world. The exquisite logic of Blueprint for American Prosperity was this century’s “Rachael Carson” moment. The truth is almost impossible to believe, and as it turns out, no one did. That is a severe problem.
Urban containment will not stop outward expansion, nor can policy effectively restrict sloppy suburban and x-urban development. However, policies can make density more attractive and, in doing so, guarantee prosperity to those within the circle.
- Physicists hope that the LHC will help answer the most fundamental questions in physics, answer questions concerning the basic laws governing elementary objects, the deep structure of space and time, especially regarding the intersection of quantum mechanics and general relativity, where current theories and knowledge breakdown. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider
- In August 2015, and commenting on hundreds of other mines with dammed up sludge, Governor John Hickenlooper, a geologist noted that the release of three million gallons of water from the Silverton Mine containing lead, arsenic and other metals into Cement Creek near Durango Colorado will have to “flush itself through” as the water makes its way into New Mexico.
- Refers to the work of political economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834)