The Myth Of Absolute Resource
Our problems are not evenly distributed, just as our wealth is not evenly distributed. As a society there seems to to be two dominant ideologies that address this. Some say, we should work to achieve balance and equal resource for all. Other will claim that the disparity between resources is a natural and unavoidable occurrence we simply come to terms with that.
As it pertains to nature, this is obviously true, we have rain forests where there is a lot of water, and we have deserts where there is very little water. The question we pose in society is whether this is okay.
If we view all resources in a similar way, and recognize, as we already have that a void of a particular resource breeds innovation. Further, that these innovations might be resource in themselves, to be applied locally, or adapted and applied elsewhere. How can we see one resource as empirically more valuable than another? And if we apply the logic of water movement to the movement of currency how can we see other ways of exchange, value, and delineation of resource?
Deserts, for example, have very little water, but all of the animals that live naturally in the desert are adapted to living with very little water. Though water is a life sustaining resource, to much rain can drown the plants, and too much humidity can create illness in the wildlife. Given that each species has a historical predisposition to water tolerance, the environment they live in should be suitable to that predisposition. If we were to transport a cactus, from a desert to a rainforest it would surely die. The same would occur if we tried to transport a tropical plant to the dessert.
If we looked at size as a resource, the whale, being the largest animal in the world would have the greatest advantage. But the size of a whale is only an advantage in water. A whale, though, large would also die if we placed it in a swamp. The minnow is more suited for this environment, as the water is shallow calm.
I think by now you get the point, but the question is, “Do these principles apply to humans as well?” It would seem that some us believe that human skill sets have allowed us to adapt more quickly to environments that are not natural to us. This reasoning would justify why were have been able to occupy every continent, and terrain on this planet and have even become able to sustain life in space. We have come to use technology to augment our abilities beyond the ones we were born with to survive in almost any environment.
The technological adaptation of clothing, is a necessity because we do not have fur, and thick layers of fat insulation to protect us from the elements. If we were provided with everything we needed to survive, in stead of everything we needed to invent then our world might look more like the animals. So who is better suited, animals, who are completely dependent on nature, or humans, who are completely dependent on technology?
Scientists and psychologists like Charles D Wickens are playing with the multiple resource theory. It looks to see which elements of our behavior are impaired by changes in our work load and in environment. It asks, among other things, if we are capable of processing various information sets, or actions simultaneously as opposed to addressing thing at a time by ‘filtering’. This begins to show that different parts of our brain do have the capacity to manage different projects and types of projects at the same time, provided they do not surpass a fundamental strain or workload. It gives credence to the idea that there maybe absolute resource, but further research shows that this fundamental capacity can be expanded with training, and practice.
From the business standpoint, we have seen so much innovation occur in small start ups, with few resources. Comparatively large companies that are more wealthy, are more secure in their practices and less likely to make sweeping changes. In this case, who is better positioned, the one with the financial resource, or the one without?
It would seem that our society does mirror the natural world in many ways, and we should continue to question if our resources are absolute. Perhaps there is an absolute resource, and we should uncover that, and seek to manage it in such away that every person has an equal opportunity to attain it. On the other hand it, it is quite possible that no resource is absolute and it is the exchange and transmission, of various types of resources that gives us all a chance to thrive.
To read the Wickens’ complete model of the multiple resource theory click here.