Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Virtualize the Consumer Economy to Save the World?

Professor Sharon Friel
Professor Sharon Friel, chair of the  "climate change, social equity and health symposium at the ANU argues that consumption by the rich has to be reduced to combat global warming. The Professor suggests that social movements can accomplish this. However, asking rich powerful people to give up what they have has not proved successful so far. I suggest a better approach would be to redefine success and wealth. 

The Internet provides a way to virtualize wealth, decoupling it from material goods. As an example, art has very little physical substance, as does money. Marketers can label the same physical goods so they have more value for some people. We can make the wealthy continue to feel wealthy without having so much "stuff". That should make them feel better, and save the planet.

In a series of talks around the region I pointed out how this is routinely done in the automotive industry, selling versions of essentially the same car as a budget and luxury product. This can also be done in education with the same degree offered online in a low cost, low carbon emissions version, and on campus for those who can afford it. Those willing to pay for the on-campus experience will feel better about it, but receive the same learning as the online student. 

No comments:

Post a Comment