As you know, I have been beating the drum lately about vacuousness of the traditional metrics of economic ”growth” (ie, building more things just for the sake of “growth”, not because we need them or that they would be good for us as a whole). I am not sure if many people agree, but the other forces (besides my will) seem to be at work to create what I consider positive changes (less population growth, less urban sprawling).
The decline in real wages and poor employment market seem to be squeezing younger generations and they are not starting families nor buying many houses. These themes turned up in a recent opinion article about the non-recovery in the U.S. housing market. Good to see more people noticing the trends. I am not happy about financial trouble. I wish the economy was expanding, but at the same time I also hope that people will continue to consider focusing on health, happiness, and the future, instead of just consuming more stuff and building bigger houses. It would be better for the environment and better for people as a whole.
A transition away from old growth models would be difficult. Change is always difficult. That is one of the reasons why I write about controversial topics and new ideas in the blog – in order to help everyone adapt to the technological changes that are coming. These changes could of course be great for the environment and climate, but they will disrupt the normal flow of life to which we have been accustomed.
I mention the ways in which technology is changing things for the better quite often (even outside of the alternative energy and pollution sphere). One change that I have noticed that will shake a lot of people is the revolution (or evolution) in education. The on-going changes will make a lot of people angry no doubt, but it is undoubtedly better for the environment. It is online education.
Many colleges are offering free (and some paid) courses online nowadays, including MIT and Stanford. You can get credit for the course if you watch the lectures submit work, and take test. All free (in most instances). The Kahn Academy is also free and simple to use. Kids can learn from an expanding list of short videos explaining everything from math to economics. The Kahn Academy is revolutionising education. The Internet gives us great tools for collaboration and personalized learning across continents.
Making greater use of the Internet is more environmentally friendly as well. Instead of electrifying, heating, and air conditioning hundreds of thousands of large buildings and shipping millions of kids (and teachers) off to school everyday, kids could learn at home. Teachers could tutor and guide kids over the Internet. It is going to be a big change, that I know a lot of people will not be happy with. Right now, a lot of families have both parents working. There is also the issue of socialization of children (although this does not seem to be much of a problem with home-schooled kids). But maybe these “problems” are the result of the modern economic “growth” model. In order to have a big house, three vehicles, a boat, and a vacation property, both parents have to work. If people focused more on the family and happiness, maybe they would be able to work less and help educate their kids with the help of online resources & online teachers. Environmentally friendly online learning is just getting going. How long do you think before the education system reaches a tipping point and online learning becomes the majority of traditional “education”? Do you think it is an overall good trend? Or a bad one?
Have a nice Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.