Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ECOnomics and ECOsystems

I think the biggest failure on both sides of the aisle in this debate is the inability of each side to see the similarities in their arguments. Economists love to argue passionately for the market - allow what is essentially a "natural system" to control human actions. I hear a similar argument flowing from many environmentalists - we want to allow natural ecosystems to continue to exist and govern themselves.

It makes me smile to see this post, on WorldChanging, about a new toilet that uses microorganisms to break down human waste. What these engineers have done is captured the power of nature to improve upon an existing human invention (there's no need to clean these biotoilets). This is a good market solution to a problem we didn't even know we had, and on balance it looks like a net positive for the environment and our society.

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Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty