Some Functional Truths About Conservation
Source: Open Talk Magazine 04/02/2011 02:14:00
It is true that overexploitation of natural resources is leading to pollution, food shortages and global warming—though some may doubt the last entry. It is also true that mankind needs to implement good practices of conservationism that go beyond public speak and theory. It is here that functionalism becomes an important precept for introducing real conversation in the way man interacts with and subsist from the environment.
The basic idea of functionalism is that whatever human activity we indulge in should be based on functional requirements and not excess. Functionally speaking, the average core human body temperature is 37 degrees centigrade and any temperature below this average makes living without air-conditioning comfortable provided that other parameters such as humidity are maintained within moderate levels. Scientific studies have shown that worker productivity indoors is best in a temperature range of 17 to 28 degrees centigrade. So, if the average annual temperature of a region does not exceed 28 degrees centigrade, then at the policy level, the government must make sure that at least government buildings are not equipped with air-conditioning and that private entities are encouraged not to install air-conditioning in their premises because, people simply do not need them.
An average human functionally requires consuming 2350 calories daily to keep healthy and fit. So, manufacturing food products, fresh or processed, do not require to have excessive overcapacities, because by doing so; it entices people to eat more than is required leading to obesity. To give an example, America produces an overcapacity of food up to 3800 calories per day per American; a lot of which does not get exported, but gets transformed into layers of adipose tissue of unsuspecting Americans with consequent effect on health care bills. A lot of food thus goes to waste or leads to obesity (27% of Americans are obese today). So a functional approach at the policy level can help limit food production to the levels required; while maintaining buffer stocks for food security.
Some may dismiss this approach as Third World rationalization because of lack of infrastructure and resources. But that is not true! Almost all offices in the German Chancellery are without air-conditioning; it is simply not fitted. If someone feels hot, they just open the windows. Now can anyone imagine the Pentagon without AC? The hottest months in Washington D.C. are July and August with an average of 31 degrees centigrade; which other than a few notable years such as 1930 (41Degrees), is slightly hot for comfortable range for working. So some air-conditioning is required for the specific months and not for the rest of the year. However, keeping AC on and then heaters all the year round is par for the course that results in colossal waste of energy and therefore resources. A functional approach may well rationalize the energy consumption of the American administration and public enterprises.
At the lower levels, a similar approach by the American public would go a long way towards conservation which would require a radical shift away from a philosophy of excess to the philosophy of functionalism.