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November 2008
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Technology, Society and The Environment: Week #10

I have missed a couple of weeks with Vanderburg’s course, well I’ve been there but I wasn’t inspired to write a blog about it. This week was different, Vanderburg really got us thinking about the producer-consumer environment. Maybe it was my friend Steve’s blog that really got me thinking about it, but we as consumers are really taken advantage of.

Today in class we discussed the utility companies and how until they change how they operate our environment remains in danger. A utility is a service; now instead of the utility companies providing a good, i.e. electricity, imagine instead they provided a service, i.e lighting?

But what is the difference between providing a good or a service?

Let’s start with providing a good, the traditional way of providing a utility. The good in Vanderburg’s example today was electricity. Since the utility company is providing you with a good,

It’s goal is to maximize profit and to do that it must sell you the most electricity possible.

Which in turn completely dismisses the environment, since currently we do not have mass clean energy plants.

If instead the utility company provided you a service such as lighting than the environment becomes a factor by default. Think of it this way, if the utility company is trying to maximize profit by selling you a lighting service than it is in their best interest to provide the most efficient lighting possible; the environment benefits.

The same can be said for other utilities.

It is time for us as consumers to speak up. These utility companies currently have a monopoly and are making massive economic profits (just look at ExxonMobil’s latest profits). If we can collectively get the utilities to provide us with a service, instead of a good, than all of society will benefit; produces still make a profit, consumers get a product at a reasonable price, and we are seeking to preserve the environment.

Comments

Comment from steven
Time November 12, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Well said! This is the type of shift in thinking that we need from the thinkers and “doers” in our society if we are to going survive and prosper as a country and as a species. Solar, wind and hydro electric power have been viable options for clean energy for years but the monopolies that control energy have done little about it. Maybe it will take the collapse of the automakers in the US or the entire industrial complex to wake people up. In fact, it usually does take such a catastrophic event to implement change on a massive level…cool, we’re about to see some change!