The Snowy Plover World Problematrix

The World Problematrix

The Problematrix is a work in progress. We plan to summarize sustainability information in the following grid as time permits.

It's really very simple. To save the world, people have to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. Some individuals are capable of making moral choices and voluntarily forego personal advantages that can still be obtained in our society for doing bad things. However, the bulk of humanity will always rationalize behaviors that result in personal advantage regardless of the hardships their behaviors create for other people, for other living things, for future generations, and even for themselves in later life. When moral choices are punished instead of rewarded, when immoral choices are rewarded instead of punished, immoral choices will prevail. Survival of life on Earth depends on all of humanity collectively changing a whole spectrum of harmful behaviors in a very short time frame.

The only way to achieve that is for government (The social contracts that govern the directions of our communities and the acceptable limits of fair play) to consistently rewar good behaviors and punish bad behaviors unwaveringly.

Still, people as a whole will not cease bad practices until they are provided with viable, affordable alternatives. The role of business is to provide those alternatives. Government must make it easy for business to fulfill this role.

Government must impose taxes to punish bad behaviors and must remove regulatory impediments to good behaviors (stop punishing good behaviors).

Society can be psychoanalyzed. For every pathology, there exist certain rewards that perpetuate the wrong choices. For every good behavior that hasn't yet caught on, one can find the punishments and obstacles that have prevented its adoption in the past.

People want a better world and they want to be part of the solution. They are willing to do their part if others also do their parts and they are not made to feel like fools for obeying rules that others ignore.

This, then, is our approach to all world problems:

  1. Define the problem carefully.
  2. Identify the root causes.
  3. Focus on the causes that stem from human behaviors.
  4. Identify the rewards and subsidies that tend to encourage the unsustainable practice.
  5. Identify alternative methods of obtaining the rewards.
  6. Analyze the relative costs (actual) of each method and compare with the (externalized) hidden costs.
  7. Find the correct role of government, which is, as it always should be, to set rules that guide the activities of individuals and businesses to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Specifically, government must cease all programs and expenditures that subsidize or encourage harmful activities. Secondly, government must remove impediments, taxes and other disincentives that act to prevent people and businesses from doing beneficial activities. Government should stop subsidizing unsustainable practices and start taxing them heavily. Also, we can provide incentives for sustainable practices by shifting tax burdens away sustainable businesses and individuals.
  8. Find the role of business, which should be to provide products and services that are beneficial to both their customers and the larger society. In business and in the workplace, we should work to set policies that support sustainability, and we can reinforce sustainable practices among our customers, employees, investors and suppliers.
  9. Find the role of individuals, which should be to minimize or eliminate unsustainable behaviors from our own lives. Secondarily, as we progress towards sustainability, we can educate our friends and families about sustainable choices. Thirdly, we can reward businesses and statesmen** who exemplify the business and government roles of advocating sustainability by supporting them with our votes and money.

Eventually, anyone will be able to access a semi-personalized action profile across all identified problems to get a list of "things to do" as an individual or as a leader in business or government.

It is our hope that a "pattern language" for a sustainable future will emerge from the problematrix that will assist other in comminicating about the needed changes.

** -- Looking for some genderless word better than "statesperson" or "stateshuman", and definitely not "politician". Suggestions?
Global Warming
Ozone Layer Depletion
Acid Rain
Population Explosion
Loss of Biodiversity
Toxic Chemicals

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This page was last revised Sunday, August 22, 1999 at 0:27:12.