What is Compression?

What is Compression?

Compression refers to the squeeze on earth and its ecology from growth of the human population and growth consuming huge amounts of resources. To dramatically reduce the human “footprint” we need to make huge reductions in use of: energy, especially of fossil fuels; extracted minerals, dispersed toxins, and discarded “garbage.”

Compression is intended to be an integrative term. It refers to:

Compression when population growth packs us ever tighter on a finite planet

Compressing our use of raw resources, which implies compressing our consumption of them.

Compressing waste, not only out of all work processes, but out of our consumption processes..

Compressing work organizations’ learning cycles: Learn more faster, integrate it, and act.

Compression is the art and science of improving quality of life while greatly reducing the usage of resources and eliminating all toxins: Do better with less. (Not more with less.)

We underestimate the magnitude of the changes needed. Humanity has long exceeded the level of consumption that puts us out of balance with nature. A rough indicator of how unbalanced we are has been called a global “footprint.”

To illustrate how drastic our action must be, Doc Hall four years ago did a back-of-the envelope calculation on usage of fossil fuel energy. About 75% of all traded energy was consumed by advanced economies, roughly 1.5 billion people. The other 6 billion people, get along on the other 25%. They can’t cut much.

The big cuts have to come from advanced economies. Like whack fossil fuel usage by 80% with some of the loss taken up by alternative energy. Economic growth rides on excess energy. Any civilization depends on energy, but excess energy might destroy it.   Here’s a global challenge the Compression Institute put out several years ago:

By 2040 globally develop a quality of life somewhat like industrial societies today, but using less than half the virgin raw materials and less than half the energy as in the year 2000, and with no known toxic releases.

That’s an enormous transformation in only a couple of decades. To seriously go for it, we need a total overhaul of our myths and mindsets. We are our biggest challenge accomplishing any such goal.

Sifting through Compression concepts goes in loops. It’s not linear thinking. The diagram below may be of some small help making sense of the loopbacks:

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