For the next few weeks, we will be examining the topic of Abundance. This exploration is inspired by Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler. They laid out one of the most hopeful scenarios for the near future (the next 25 years) that I have ever seen in a book simply titled “Abundance“.
Abundance is the goal of the Next Economy. If fact, it has been the dream of people throughout history. Creating abundance is the great challenge of our time!
So what is it? Abundance means that everyone, especially the poorest people on the planet have their basic needs met and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We will be exploring the details of what this means as well as the challenges and opportunities of creating abundance over the next few weeks.
One of the biggest challenges will be to restructure our production so that we use virtually no resources that are not renewable. Abundance and sustainability go hand in hand. It is possible to produce faster than we consume but it will take a significant of restructuring of our commercial activities.
Abundance vs. scarcity
Scarcity is one of the tenants of the Industrial Age. The mindset one of is always wanting more. Those that have enough retire. There are many kinds of scarcity. Some materials like gold and platinum only exist in a limited quantity on Earth (rarity). There is local scarcity. The Southwestern US is currently in a drought while the upper Mississippi basin is suffering from too much water. Political boundaries cause scarcity as well. Regulations that govern the flow of goods, services and even people across national boundaries cause artificial scarcity. This is typically done for the enrichment of established authority even though it is usually covered by a patriotic wrapper. Sometimes the scarcity is only a perception – this is generally a marketing ploy to increase sales or drive up prices.
Some of the real scarcity can be resolved with technology. Aluminum was one of the world’s scarcest metals until commercially viable smelting methods made it a nearly throw-away commodity. (Recycling is a topic for another day). We can develop/produce our products in ways that replace rare elements with more abundant ones. Better farming methods can increase yields. Increasing the yields of renewable resources is one of the key to Abundance.
Sustainable Abundance is about restructuring human activity so that we utilize renewable resources and recycled non-renewables. It is a challenge but we can get there. So where are we now? Humans currently consume 50% more than the Earth’s capacity to renew. If all seven billion people on this planet adopted American/European lifestyles, it would take 3 Earths to satisfy the demand for resources.
The restructuring is possible but it will take effort. The technological advances that we need to achieve Abundance are happening!
Cognative Bias vs. Abundance
Our ability to get from here to Abundance is not just a technical issue. We have to overcome the fact that our brains are wired to be pessimistic. Our brains were basically wired in a time when fear and vigilance kept us from being eaten by predators. This has led to a generally pessimistic outlook. It is called cognitive bias.
Our cognitive functions (basically, how our brain works) reinforce this gloomy outlook. Our senses pick up much more data than our brains can process in real time. We must use tricks to filter all that data to focus on what is relevant. Some call that modelling but it is mostly unconscious. We tend to only listen to viewpoints we agree with (confirmation bias). The generally pessimistic outlook is called negativity bias.
There is so much more than about Abundance than I can describe, and progress is happening at an exponential rate. Check out the Abundance Hub for the latest.