I found this article via the excellent Sentiers, which I support as a member. It discusses the importance of making visible externalities — a term which is reasonably common in literature relating to economics and risk, but not general discourse.
An externality is “an indirect cost or benefit to an uninvolved third party that arises as an effect of another party’s (or parties’) activity”. In this case we’re talking about the cost of extracting materials from the ground and shipping them around the world.
The shipping container led to the highly sophisticated supply chains we see today, which has been extremely efficient in making, exploiting and creating a form of global labour and material arbitrage.
It is vital to the relocating and offshoring of production to places where the costs are far lower. But even more importantly it makes the consequences, or ‘externalities’, of production completely invisible to Western consumers.
What if we suddenly decided that we’re going to stop pretending those things don’t happen? What if we embrace the consequences of what it means to manufacture products and to build, and to price its full cost? If the sticker price included the full cost of everything we build, then suddenly making things locally and sourcing materials locally would become much more attractive.
Source: Designing without depletion: Joseph Grima’s non-extractive architecture | Foreground
Comments are closed.