Considering the geological time-scales involved in #1, wouldn't this
mean, in effect, using no fossil fuel, metals, etc. at all?
I think we should also distinguish between fossil fuels, which are
burned up and "lost", and metals, which are not really lost. Most of
the metals we dug up centuries ago should still be above ground,
In #4, I take "as efficiently" to mean "in a way that maximizes gain".
I would suggest that a better criterion for sustainability is not if
it maximizes gain but if it minimizes risk, i.e., reliability instead
I interpret most resource-use approaches of traditional communities,
for instance, as approaches that tend to minimize risk (risk of crop
failure, risk of losing/destroying sources of food and water, risk
against natural disasters, etc.). On the other hand, most resource-use
approaches of corporate businesses tend to maximize gain (greater
inputs, greater output per unit input).
It is easy to imagine that the optimum level of resource-use for
minimizing risk is lower than the optimum level for maximizing gain.
Thus, a resource might be seen as optimally used by a traditional
community would be seen as under-utilized by a corporate business.
Here's the germ of most resource-conflicts between communities and
By the way, risk-minimization should be a very familiar concept to
most of us, but we know it by a different name: the precautionary
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