Ecology, Economics, Equity

If ya'll will pardon the discourse into something a little theoretical (instead of trees, which are awesome in general), now seems like a nice time to talk about a way that popular culture and general academia is failing us all.

Generally, a useful way of evaluating the merit of a new innovation or policy is by determining the impact it'll have on the environment (ecology), what the monetary pluses and minuses are (economics), and what kind of a social effect it'll have (does it screw over the poor aka equity).

Looking at something (like Obama's stimulus plan, or hybrid cars, by way of examples) with these three things (three e's, as they're sometimes known) in mind can usually help you get your mind around the positives and negatives of a thing.

The way I see things, most people tend to believe that ecology and equity tend to face off against economics - or, to put it another way, it's expensive to do social programs and environmental work.


Well, not always wrong - but not always right, either.

Take the smart-grid that Obama's pushing - if we had a system to distribute electricity a little more intelligently, it'll save people money. Or a new thermostat that turns off when you don't need it. These are things that help the environment and save money. Job training for the poor. Recycling. Mass transit.

The common thread between all these things usually seems to be that you have to pay out a lot of money to start in order to get money (and benefits) back farther down the road. And it makes sense - even the two big purchases that are considered necessary for the American Family (cars and a house) are usually paid for on loan or mortgage - meaning they're usually paid off over time.

So what is it about spending money all at once? It's a very simple fear, I think - and maybe one that's hurting the world, since it makes it harder for us to accept changes that are expensive at first.

Or maybe it just means we need to start offering more loans on solar panel installation and smart thermostats.

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