LIFE IN LYCRA – THE ABUNDANCE MENTALITY

The relentless human pursuit for technological gains separates humans from other species.

Humans have the ability to solve problems and continually create more output with less input. We are complex creatures, far from perfect in fact very imperfect, but this ability places us as the apex species.

However, we often forget about just how far we have come or what drives us to get where we are heading. We get so consumed by the now – by the stupidity of actions and the people around us that we forget just how resourceful we are and how quickly we can create and innovate.

When you study economics 101, one of the first concepts you are taught is that “Wants are insatiable and resources are scarce” which I believe in the short-term to be correct.

However, when I look over a longer period of time I have trouble with this concept as I believe that resources are unlimited!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Resources are unlimited

Now I know some of you are going to jump up and down and call Bull-$*#%t

Others are going to go straight to “we can’t just keep consuming and destroying the planet” – which I agree with.

But stay with me here and just give me a little time to explain.

See the reason I believe resources are unlimited is that as humans whenever a resource becomes restricted or a particularly stubborn obstacle becomes apparent, our creative juices flow and we find a solution.

The problem with us as a species is that we are stubborn and often the problem has to get really bad before we do anything about it. Further, to make matters worse we continue to be creative while we are waiting for that problem to become really big and just solve (and create) other problems that are less important while we wait…….

This concept of abundance thinking is the substance behind the “resources are unlimited philosophy”.

An Example

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about where lateral thinking solved a problem and created a new way of life.

Life pre 1815 was pretty straight forward. Maybe not easy, but as a race we had life and the economy ticking along – albeit some had it a bit better than others.

But then something happened in 1815 that changed all that.

First a few shudders then maybe a quiver.

Then one April evening, Indonesia’s Mount Tambora literally exploded.

Photo by Brent Keane,  Joy Anne Pura and Vadim Sadovski.

It was a gigantic eruption of energy that blew the mountain apart. It’s the largest volcanic eruption ever recorded in history.

In fact according to wiki “The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora was the most powerful in human recorded history, with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 7. It is the most recently known VEI-7 event and the only unambiguously confirmed VEI-7 eruption since the Lake Taupo eruption in about 180 AD.”

Before the eruption Mount Tambora was about 4,300 metres (14,000 feet) high but now stands at just 2,851 metres (9,354 feet), the top of the mountain having been blown sky high.

Tragically 10,000 islanders were killed but it got a whole lot worse than that!

Its estimated that as much as 150 cubic km of hot gas and volcanic matter known as pyroclastic flow, spewed from the volcano – ash, rock, and hundreds of megatons of poisonous gasses including sulphur gushed into the atmosphere.

But it didn’t end there. When these gasses mixed up in the atmosphere it actually prevented significant amounts of sunlight from reaching earth’s battered crust.

So significant was the impact that according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, global temperatures dropped by as much as 3’C or 5.4’F. Some say in parts of Europe temperatures declined by as much as 10 degrees C!

The Indonesian eruption became a worldwide catastrophe.

The “year without summer”

There are reports that in June, July and August 1815, Western Europe and North America experienced periods of heavy snow and devastating frosts.

Such cold led to disease, crop failures and starvation in those regions, and the year 1816 was called the “year without a summer.”

With conditions so harsh and food so scarce this impacted not just on humans but upon all species inhabiting our planet. Animal stock was not just decimated due to lack of feed, but so dire were the conditions that many working and domesticated animals were eaten by owners who were themselves trying to keep from starving.

Image by scott payne from Pixabay

Why is it called a Push Bike?

Drais’ 1817 design made to measure – Wilhelm Siegrist (1797-1843?) – Drais’ 3-page printed description of 1817 (in public libraries)

Life was also hard in Germany where Baron Karl von Drais worked as both an inventor and as a Forestry Master for the German Government.

Drais needed to travel between different parts of the forest that he was in charge of which became problematic due to the fact that most of the horses had been eaten or had died of starvation.

So Drais set to work to solve the problem and came up with his two wheeled running machine or Laufmaschine. <As an aside this is where the name “Push Bike” comes, which is funny because I’d never thought about the fact that it is called a Push Bike, but you peddle it?? But now we know why.>

Drais’s invention was not quite ready for the Tour De France as it didn’t have any pedals, but it looked pretty much like what a bike is today – two inline wheels, handle bars, seat etc.

In fact today we would call this a “Balance Bike” which young kids often use to learn how to ride a bike.

The concept caught on in Europe, with England developing Drais’s design in what they called the “Dandy Horse” – which was maybe in honour of the inspiration of the invention itself.

It took about another 70 years for this push bike to develop into the chain and pedal model that we have today.

Although Drais’s invention solved his problem of getting around the forest in an efficient manner there still remained a major problem for the bicycle.

The quality of the roads.

Roads were rough, uneven and littered with potholes making it difficult for these “wheelmen” as they were called to get around on their mechanical machines.

But these fanatics didn’t give up and did what any group does to get what they want ….

They lobbied!

In America more than 100,000 deadly treadly supporters joined groups like The League of American Wheelmen, who advocated for roads to be paved throughout America not just at a political level but grass roots as well. In 1892 this league founded the “Good Roads Magazine” to promote the need for public roads.

In 1898 America got its first paved roads.

And Back to the Future we go

The current discussions that we have about transportation and climatic change are not new. What we do know is that as Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” and as humans we specialise in change.

Our unique ability to turn lemons into lemonade is striking and is the premise behind why I have an abundance mentality. It is just sad that we need to leave things to the last minute. It is not until things are at crisis point that we get really motivated to create a solution for the problem at hand.

Photo by zhenzhong liu on Unsplash

Once the issue has been identified creativity leads us to the solution. Same, same but different and history just continues to repeat.

Innovation leads to productivity. Which will continue to manifest back into the land price.

This is why when I gaze into what the future may hold, I just wonder if the immortal words of Back to the Future’s Dr. Emmett Brown may be somewhat apt:

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

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