Re: [C-L] Walking Lightly
From: Lisa Poley (lpoleyvt.edu)
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 10:55:15 -0700 (PDT)
Brian - 

I am afraid that you misunderstood my point. 

Minimizing labor input per unit of production does not necessarily correlate
to tangible benefits for the environment. It makes no sense to lump labor
use, particularly highly-skilled labor use, in with material resource
consumption in the way that you suggest. 

Not all resource use is the same in terms of environmental impact.

We WANT to create more opportunities for labor use, particularly highly
skilled labor use (because presumably that translates into more job
opportunities, income, increased self-sufficiency etc.) plus labor is a
renewable resource. 

Non-renewable natural resource use is an entirely different story. The
over-use of polluting, non-renewable resources has serious environmental
consequences. 

We need to be moving toward creation of economic systems that rely less on
flagrant consumption of non-renewable resources and more on goods and
services that use skill and innovation to maximize value and quality from
increasingly limited material resource inputs. That means shifting
labor/skill/innovation inputs UP and material inputs DOWN.  That is much
more sustainable in the long term from both an ecological and a social
standpoint. 

Best, 

Lisa









-----Original Message-----
From: Brian Bartholomew [mailto:bb [at] stat.ufl.edu] 
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2007 4:19 AM
To: Cohousing-L
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ 50+ and affordable

"Lisa Poley" <lpoley [at] vt.edu> writes:

   > more commonly higher prices are seen with new technologies and
   > innovations that have not yet been able to take advantage of the
   > cost savings that come from scaled up production.

   Right!  Less economy of scale means more resources consumed to
   build each unit.

   > The higher 'resource' costs usually reflects higher priced labor
   > inputs and initial R&D and capital outlays

   Right!  High-skill labor took a lot of resources (universities etc.)
   to produce.  Non-reoccuring engineering costs lots of resources.
   Capital is or proxies for natural resources.

The resource costs of initial R&D and factory construction are just as
physically real as the costs of production after the product is
designed.  If a product can't pay back its initial design investment
via income from sales, it is a net resource loss.

-----

Social justice is an entirely separate topic from counting resource
use.  Slavery is an evil crime; the victims should be freed and the
slavemasters punished.  That said, I do not think Wal-Mart suppliers
kill workers if they try to resign their jobs.  If these jobs are
uniformly so horrible, why would people take them?

> Purchase of cheap goods imported from far away has significantly
> negative environmental impacts that are not well accounted for in
> the final price of the good because we don't currently internalize
> costs of the environment of CO2 emissions from transportation into
> the price of the goods we purchase.

The true resource cost of ocean shipping may be close to negligible
relative to the value of what's shipped:

        
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.10/ports.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set=

        Today, transport costs account for about 1 percent of the
        final price of consumer goods, making country of origin
        largely an afterthought in purchasing decisions.

True, that 1% doesn't count air pollution.  But it's a big ocean and
there may not be that much air pollution.  How many harbors have a
smog problem?
                                                        Brian
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