Winter in the northern hemisphere brings cold. Fortunately, controlled climate in housing enables people to live comfortably. Heat comes from the release of energy, often from burning natural gas or wood. Often, the house’s occupant uses a simple control device, a thermostat, to control the temperature inside the house to whatever they believe is most comfortable.

As we know, burning non-renewable fossil fuels comes with problems. Two of them are: the emission of pollutants; and the eventual need to replace the energy source. Obviously, setting a house’s temperature higher will burn more fuel, which results in greater amounts of pollution and a sooner need to replace the energy source. Thus, from a sustainability perspective, it’s better to keep one’s house temperature as low as possible.

But, you have no way of knowing the temperature set inside a house. Nor does anyone know what temperature you have set inside your own house. The only consequence of setting a higher temperature is the increased financial cost to purchase the fuel. You can set your house temperature as high as you want so that you are as comfortable as you want and no one will know.

This conflict between personal betterment or social betterment is known as the ‘tragedy of the commons’. The tragedy is our inherent, continual desire for personal betterment to the detriment of society. Will this tragedy be the downfall of our species? Or will we act socially even when no one sees?

War in Europe

A critical, non-renewable resource should be safeguarded. Wisdom recommends it be used only as necessary. With the ongoing climate crisis, there’s also greater cause for safeguarding non-renewable fossil fuels due to their noxious by-products. And we can use the energy contained in fossil fuels only once; thereafter, it’s gone forever. Hence wisdom dictates restricting it to essential usage.

Yet folly has replaced wisdom as war returns to Europe. War, as typical, serves to destroy. In effect, combatants use large amounts of natural resources to ruin their opponent’s infrastructure. There’s little regard for the attendant loss in nature services or the commensurate loss of nature. Presumably the combatants assume that they can easily rebuild infrastructure and that nature regenerates itself. This isn’t wisdom given the constrained availability of energy and the finite ability of nature.

Let’s remember, non-renewable fuels can only be used once. As we use natural resources to build and rebuild infrastructure, we take more of nature for ourselves. And release more noxious emissions for future generations. Let’s also remember that when a species goes extinct, we’ve lost its service forever. Can we accept war as common in the future? Assuming not, how do we end war?
Fire at Chernihiv oil depot. Credit: nexta
Oil depot burning. Photo Nexta_TV