Operational Objectives of Compression

Objectives Statement:

By 2040 globally improve quality of life to an industrial society equivalent using no more than half the energy and half the virgin raw materials as in the year 2000, while reducing known toxic releases to zero.

Please reflect carefully on this statement. Objectives are global. Translating them to any part of the globe depends on how local conditions contribute to the whole.

For example, consumption of energy and raw materials in advanced industrial societies is nearly half of all global consumption today, so industrial society use of energy (especially fossil) and virgin resources has to reduce by much more than half. In the U.K., 80% reduction by 2050 is actually a publicly-stated goal. Without developing Compression Thinking to become imaginative, this sounds impossible, so it terrifies business communities operating by decision rules locked onto expansion thinking.

By contrast, those living in areas that presently use minimal resources have to learn how to improve their life using very little more than now. Whether in advanced economies or undeveloped ones, shifts in thinking are likely to contradict long-held practices. A big part of Compression Thinking has to address changes we make in ourselves. Some changes may be easy, but there’s no point pretending that all changes will be easy, whether they are technical or behavioral.

Toxic releases can be reduced by substitution. Where this does not seem feasible, restrict the amount used, stored, and moved. This reduces the possibilities for release. If leakage does occur, less is released.

Pegging objectives to a point in time allows operational organizations to measure whether they are making progress. This converts action from “do-a-little and greenwash it,” to “do-a-lot and admit that we are still a long way from our goals.” The detailed practicalities of doing this are not to be underestimated.

A shorthand way to express this is to serve all “stakeholders” (not just customers and owners) with quality over quantity always.

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