Neo-Classical elements: Time, money, energy, politics

Money, Politics, Sustainability, Time

The world used to be (perceived to be) made up of four elements: Earth, air, fire, and water.

A few years back Ollie and I figured all the problems in the world would go away if only we could sort out the energy thing. Not least because if we really nailed it we could just drive spaceships out into space, rapidly terraform the Moon / Mars etc and… well the point being that energy was the crux of the whole danged palaver.

That’s all very nice, but a bit too abstract, and un-actionable since I’m not a nanotech solar guy or a bioengineering algae specialist.

The next two concepts humanity’s letting itself down with at the moment are time and money, which is where I’ve been focusing my attentions.

It occurred to me there’s another which I’d missed out, but is in fact just as essential: politics. To clarify, I mean here politics in its core sense of working out how to co-exist with other people and their curious ways, without ripping their heads off.

My suggestion for a contemporary version of the 4 essential elements are, in order of perceived importance:

  • Time – our most precious resource
  • Money – our next most precious resource since it allows trade of things, and – just importantly but significantly differently – the trade of abstract things like ideas
  • Energy – everything else
  • Politics – creating the conditions for harmony

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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