Informed Creativity

As our world becomes more connected and interdependent, the demands on global resources (not the least of which is time) incur greater opportunity costs. Throughout history, societies have reached the tipping point between abundant survival and abject subsistence. It seems, at least to me, that we are facing another such tipping point. We can choose to approach our next steps in careless ways, destroying the precious resources that remain, or we can choose to employ greater amounts of creativity to liberate greater value from those resources.

History demonstrates that human creativity has repeatedly been the saving grace from collapse. As such, if we are serious about an increasing and sustainable standard of living, then informed creativity on a massive, distributed, and real-time scale is required. Everything from waste processing, energy production, and materials management to population issues, social interaction, and sustainable growth requires increasingly informed creativity and decision-making in order to create solutions. We live in a time where vast swaths of the population can readily access abundant amounts of accurate information. With a world full of people and machines for processing, it is an insult that we are still grappling with environmental degradation, mismanagement, and social woes. Such, however, is the nature of a work in progress. We all have the good fortune of being able to help shape the journey. Here are some links to help get the creative juices flowing. Enjoy:

http://www.miller-mccune.com/environment/draft-created-on-may-28-2010-at-534-pm-16596/
http://www.ehow.com/way_5215293_creative-solutions-environmental-problems.html
http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1449&context=nrei&sei-redir=1
http://iaswcd.org/district_tools/envirothon.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_problem_solving
http://westernfarmpress.com/government/western-water-crisis-triggers-2012-summits
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/consumer-behaviour-design-collaboration?newsfeed=true
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/business/energy-environment/in-clean-tech-venture-capital-looks-for-problem-solvers.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40090&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=
http://www.perc.org/
http://www.coralrestoration.org/

An Opinion on Sustainable Markets

It has been apparent for far too long that the condition of the environment has been rapidly deteriorating. Often, an impossibly difficult decision between environmental conservation and human growth has been presented as the only way forward. The creation of sustainably constructed markets fueled by robust, real-time communication and accurate data can help ease that formerly impossibly difficult decision.

A way that we can achieve this aim is by targeting the nearly inevitable problem of deadweight loss (DWL) that often results from deciding between environmental conservation and human growth. DWL is a term used to describe the negative effects from market inefficiency. DWL does no one any favors, and essentially acts as a drag on value, innovation and sustainable growth. There are innumerable ways to target DWL. For example, in energy markets, efficiency gains through the implementation of new technologies can become self-sustaining. In resource markets, waste can become a resource-base achieved through trash mining and recycling. In invasive species markets, the targeted invasive species can be harvested as an input to create value-added finished goods.

The globe is full of opportunities for the creation of immense real value. In many instances, the implementation of markets whose most likely equilibria (econ-speak: markets can have more than one point of equilibrium) result in win-win scenarios (econ-speak: nonzero positive sums) allow for increases in real value by eliminating wasteful DWL while adding more opportunities (econ-speak: potential possibilities) to the economy. The reduction of DWL, coupled with the creation of an expanded set of possibilities, can create massive positive feedback systems that optimize real value functions. These systems are far from perfect as of now; at least beginning wider-spread implementation can provide reasonable ways forward while helping to transform the economy into a sustainable, more humane, and more valuable one. Gaia Endeavors strives to provide environmentally-focused entrepreneurs ideas, a forum for discussion, and links. As such, please help by adding to the conversation and visit/add to the links below.

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=deadweight+loss
http://www.eia.gov/consumption/
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/InvasiveSpecies/
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/intensiveprocesses/pdfs/energy_use_loss_opportunities_analysis.pdf
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/science/earth/10fish.html?_r=1
http://www.iisgcp.org/newsroom/archive/102110.html
http://www.miyassushi.com/invasive.html
http://blog.seattlepi.com/environment/2008/08/06/why-mine-landfills-when-you-can-mine-trash/
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_31/b4094036650513.htm
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs060-01/fs060-01.pdf
http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,767178,00.html

Trash and Treasure

“One person’s trash can be another’s treasure.” This has never been more true than today. We live in a world that is overflowing with trash, yet we also face resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and decision-paralysis regarding how to address the trash that we are so quickly generating. Fortunately, technologies, communication, and collaboration are rapidly expanding the capacity for creating solutions.

The trash that is piling up around the world is affecting everything from biodiversity to economic efficiency to once beautiful land and seascapes. What if we took a market-based approach to addressing trash, using it as a resource base? There is a great deal of effort being expended to develop methods for turning trash into treasure, but there is still a great deal of work to be done. Here are some links, please add to the conversation:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/science/earth/13trash.html
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10140500-54.html
http://www.ctv.ca/generic/generated/static/business/article2062217.html
http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county/ci_18313474?nclick_check=1
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/rmd/index.htm
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/06/from-72-recycled-beer-cans-comes-a-sweet-surfboard.php
http://www.fastcompany.com/1755522/why-dow-is-burning-plastic-for-energy
http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/06/13/1818259/Studying-the-Impact-of-Lost-Shipping-Containers
http://www.smdp.com/Articles-c-2011-05-31-71917.113116-Smart-beach-trash-cans-debut.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling

 

Water, water everywhere

I was walking through the water aisle at the grocery store a few days ago and I thought to myself, what has happened (and is happening) to our global water supplies?   When water bottles and other “not-from-the-home-tap” water first appeared on store shelves, marketing was primarily focused on the portability and convenience of water bottles and the “elegance” of importing water.   Now, it seems to me, the marketing implication is that previously potable and/or usable water has become quite possibly too dirty to drink and/or use.  To learn more, I conducted an Internet search to see what some members of the worldwide community are doing to contribute to solving water-related challenges.  The good news is there are already a lot of good ideas out there!  Below are some of the ideas and data that I thought would be interesting for you too.

As with everything on the Internet (or anywhere else, for that matter), please help us verify the claims made and/or data provided on the links.   While we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the links, the nature of the Internet does not always allow for proper peer review prior to publication.  As entrepreneurs continue developing solutions to worldwide environmental challenges, we are all going to be confronted with a host of “first draft” material.  This kind of material, in my experience, is usually filled with brilliant ideas, but it also may contain an occasional oversight (hence: “first draft”).  As such, please help us verify, think up, and implement new and existing solutions. :-)

Finally, please help make Gaia Endeavors as interactive as possible by adding more links and continuing the discussion in the comments section!  By the way, we are still constructing exciting, useful and robust functionality to the website.  Thanks for your support!