The world of 1995 would have been completely unimaginable to people of
1795. For instance, petroleum was not yet exploited as an energy
source, if I remember history correctly. So as a minimum level of
humility, I decided that I can only predict the future for 200 years.
After that, the ground rules will have changed so much that my
speculation is futile. This allows weighting of present sacrifice
against future advantages. For example, should fossil fuels be conserved
more than they currently are? Yes, that would be prudent. Should they be
conserved (or even rationed) so that they will last into the indefinite
future? I don't know that society could handle the upheaval.
The practical advantage of this, for Lisa Beecheler, is that she might
try to create an index of whether a farm or field can be maintained for
another 200 years (or some other time period) under current management.
Then by that definition she can make statements about the proportion of
farms that are sustainable.
Of course some things never change, as they say, and we can probably
be sure that we'll never have a substitute for soil or sunlight, so
this concept has room for improvement. True, some failed civilizations
met their demise over millenia, but we are trying to look forward, and
that is not as easy.
I like the way Dick R. brings us often to an examination of how
we make decisions. It is easy to let that part of the picture slide
by. I disagree, though, with the concept in his last message that the
goal should be "increasing options that increase options". Seems to me that
every choice in some way _diminishes_ one's options, even the choice not
to decide. If ever-increasing GNP (for example) seems unlikely, why
should ever-increasing options be the paradigm? Maybe I am missing
| MR. MICHAEL J. MUNSTER |
<> EMAP-Agricultural Lands phone 919-515-3311 <>
| 1509 Varsity Dr. fax 919-515-3593 |
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