The Easter Island reading told a tragic tale of an isolated community which eventually collapsed due to mismanagement of resources. This issue of resource use in disregard for the future seems to be a common theme throughout humanity. It’s natural to just use, use, use, but eventually you do yourself a disservice. We’ve all been there – on a road trip or in a morning class, and we brought a snack to tide us over for a while. What happens? 9/10 times you can bet we eat the snack in the first 10 minutes and spend the rest of the time wishing we had saved a little bit for later. We must train ourselves to plan for the future – delayed gratification as it is commonly called.
I think we do see a parallel in areas of today’s life to the poor resource management of Easter Island, just as we see throughout all of history, but does this mean that our civilization will be wiped out as well? Not necessarily. I’m optimistic that innovations in technology and cooperation in trade will lead to more efficient use of resources.
One area in my industry where I feel needs improvement in resource management is the decision of new construction vs. renovation. Many buildings are torn down just for something else to be rebuilt right in its place immediately afterwards. This is a huge amount of resource usage. Imagine if the existing building was simply renovated – that would require fewer resources. I believe that technology is advancing and that many of the decision to tear down, such as structural, aesthetic, or otherwise, will easily be remedied by innovative techniques and products so that there is less waste and unnecessary usage. I have seen in recent years more people talking about and taking up this wicked problem of architectural waste, and alleviating solutions like adaptive reuse are being used more and more.