Our hopes and our dreams depend on a functioning economy.
Money is being printed to meet our needs so that we can continue to have that dream. The stock market is growing. Life is getting bigger and therefore we can live a life of abundance.
The S&P 500 recently closed at a record high of 1,985.44 on July 3. Stocks are smashing records every day as the Dow climbs to 17,068.26, another high. The dips are not painful anymore as they were several years ago. They are just growing pains anyway, a term we like to use affectionately.
Yet here we are in 2014, grappling with the same issues we did in 2008 when the markets crashed and oil hit $150 per barrel. Some things are still not quite right.
Some of our friends and family members are still looking for jobs. Oil remains stubbornly high in the $115 range. There is violence again in Iraq. The world’s bee population is dying off, as well as increasing number of fisheries.
And if these things are not troubling enough, aquifers that take thousands of years to recharge are being rapidly depleted. Our cities and vast agricultural areas that depend on them will not be able to continue as they are.
I believe if we continue on our path, we will have a major water crisis within the next two decades.
Our path is one of exponential growth.
As humans, we believe in growth in different states over time. We grow physically in size. We harness our brain so that we can increase our mental capacity to be a productive part of society. We look for ways to enhance our emotional level so that we may be fulfilled one day.
But somewhere along the way, the idea of growth came to mean having bigger houses and cars. How we can get them and get them more quickly preoccupies our minds every day. Money is being printed at rates never seen before in history. We have an exponential money system that gives us more claims on wealth than we have room to sustain it.
Growth = more
Is it our purpose to grow exponentially? To live a large life that is artificially made up from this paper-based abstraction? Can it last forever?
These are questions to ask when we contemplate the universe. But ultimately we need energy to build and grow. And it makes sense to say that everything grows until it reaches the limits of its energy. Energy is the master resource.
Without energy, there is no functioning economy.
Without a functioning economy, we become less resilient. This is a word that architects use more and more these days. There is a push to build resilient homes that would hold up against power outages and environmental disasters. A functioning economy, by all means, requires energy to move it so that we can build resiliency.
We rely on oil as our main source of energy. 95% of everything we do that involves moving something from point A to point B in our global economy is done so by oil. Oil is at the heart of the matter.
There is a direct relationship with oil production and GDP, the gross domestic product and a measure of the market economy. When oil production increases .25%, GDP follows with an increase of 1%. Oil is our master resource. When it moves, we move.
Oil is expensive. While it is no longer cheap, we still continue to buy it. If prices go up at the pump, we may feel the pinch but chalk it up to normalcy. Seems natural for oil to be so expensive when it helps us to grow to the abundant lifestyle we want to have. Why not pay higher prices to have more?
The goal is to maximize wealth. To most, it means having more. To have more means extraction from the ground increases. Natural resources are being depleted quicker. The amount of garbage we make is piling up at every corner of the environment.
We’re not worried. Even when the oil surplus is declining. This is the problem with exponential growth. We let things take its course. When something goes wrong, we allow it to correct itself. We wait until it’s almost too late. We are at the precipice.
We wait until the last minute to take action.
‘Tiny’ is the story of one couple’s definition of home and the pursuit of building it from scratch. Their definition of home is not so much about the inside of a house, but rather different outdoor places they like to visit. Home is where Merete and Christopher like to go to every day.
Normally, acquiring a home is about putting down a payment on a 2,500 sq. ft., four bedroom house with your family. A deed is signed and human habitation of ownership begins in a fixed location. Then you work most of your days to stay there. You work so hard to keep it.
But what if you could take your mortgage, or money for one year’s rent, and spend it on building a tiny house? This movie shows us that Americans are ditching their large, pricey houses. They are building low-cost, low-energy tiny homes – homes that are hand-crafted with thoughtful attention to detail.
In the movie, the couple buys a flatbed trailer to build their home on top of it. Their dream home is to get it hitched and drive to where they want to live next. It’s a flexible plan and one that makes their world bigger by living smaller.
Architectural firms are now specializing in helping Americans make tiny homes. They teach that the primary feature of a low-energy home is its size. A home is no larger than it needs to be. Size does matter.
There are also plenty of starter plans online. You can buy a flatbed trailer for $500. Rent a 0.125-acre lot for $200 a month. Have a 200 sq. ft. home in no time. Pay $400 in expenses instead of $1,200. And realize you never needed a big house.
Take a break from those big summer blockbusters. Watch the teaser trailer here: http://tiny-themovie.com/
And embrace the future of less.
Prosperity = just enough