Many people in this world behave as though our economy is a zero sum game. But, in most cases, it is not a zero sum game. In many cases simply re-arranging our thinking or our systems can actually support a better economy and more biodiversity with fewer resources. This article is a perfect example of how systemic thinking and pushing for sustainability can simultaneously achieve multiple goals and improve many factors at once with simple, low cost, innovations.
In this article researchers found that by installing solar panels at an appropriate height above the ground the solar panels and the crop plants benefits from cooler air temperatures, bees benefit from more plants to pollinate, and the farmer gets higher crop yields with less water. Oh, and by the way this also reduces temperatures for farm hands harvesting the crops and adds another source of income for the farmer from the electricity generated. All of a sudden we are now able to the same amount of land area but yielding more crops and electricity, using less water, and making laborers working conditions less uncomfortable. Win… win… win.. win… I think there is a song for that.
It goes to show that life and system design is not a zero sum game. We can achieve a better quality of life and a better environment with less energy, less waste, and less pollution through smart science based solutions that embrace the properties of each component to work in harmony with the system as a whole instead of against it.