Monday, October 6, 2014

Vital Limit: Solar Income

A third vital limit to our population as a species, and to the size and number of our artifacts, is our solar income: the energy we get from the sun each day.

In Genesis 1, we learn that God created an ordered good of countless plants and animals as the perfect context for us to realize a relationship of freedom and love with him, one another, and all those other species. We witness to God when we live within the vital limits of that ordered good.

Vital limits are limits which nurture and protect life. Trespassing them causes debilitation and death.

We previously identified two vital limits. The first is the vitality of other species and their habitats. The second is the carrying capacity of our ecological context both for the population of our species and for the number and size of our artifacts.

Today we may identify a third limit: living on solar income rather than relying on solar savings.

We may think of the sunshine we enjoy each day as our solar income. This income heats our world. It feeds the plants which feed the rest of us directly or indirectly. It also grows the plants, like trees, we may use for constructing artifacts like houses and for heating them.

We may think of coal, oil, and natural gas as solar savings; that is, as solar energy from the past saved in those forms.

By growing a human population and Global Technological System (GTS) on the basis of solar savings rather than solar income, we have long trespassed other vital limits. By doing so, we drive other species to extinction and threaten our own species with massive die-off.

We live most meaningfully as human beings when we remain within the vital limits of nurturing and protecting other species and their habitats, the carrying capacity of our ecological context, and our solar income.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.