Sharing is Caring
There are about 10 000 000 000 galaxies in the observable universe (no my keyboard didn’t get stuck on 0, that number is 10 billion). If we’re assuming that there’s an average number of 100 billion stars per galaxy, that means there are a staggering 1 billion trillion stars in the observable universe, with an estimated 40 billion earth like planets. (Don’t even get me started on what that means about the numbers of Taylor Swift fans and CrossFit lovers out there!)
Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest a little, and just maybe some of you are starting to wonder how we haven’t found any life in this vast universe when the potential for it is on a scale we can’t quite comprehend. Well if you are thinking this, you’re not alone. In fact this paradox of a universe which should statistically be brimming with life, combined with no evidence of it, is called the Fermi Paradox, named after Italian scientist Enrico Fermi.
In short, the theory proposes that extraterrestrial civilizations can likely be found across the universe, but we are unlikely to ever meet them. This is because they are most likely, just like us, to behave in a manger similar to that of a bacterium called Pseudomonas. This bacterium has been shown to self-organize into micro-colonies that function in a manner similar to a capitalist economic system. Guided by a get-richer, need-more mechanism, this hoarding ultimately leads to starvation and self-destruction.
Why is this relevant to humanity?
Well, without trying to ruin your day, we are heading in a very similar direction to our single celled bacterium friends. Overfishing, misuse and abuse of resources as well as pollution are putting our once flourishing planet under immense strain.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Our knight in shining armor has arrived. Its name: “The Sharing Economy.”
What is The Sharing Economy?
The Sharing Economy is quite difficult to define mainly due to its incredibly broad scope of application in our everyday lives. It’s more of an umbrella term, covering various mechanisms and other “shared” economic systems and concepts such as “Peer-to-Peer Economy”, “Gig Economy” and the “Collaborative Economy”. Each of these focus on slightly different things but the theme that runs through them is the same: how to make the use of everyday resources more efficient, accessible and convenient.
Let’s dive into a few companies around the world who are embracing the Sharing Economy, starting with Airbnb.
Historically, when you packed up your home and went off on holiday, your house sat idle – sometimes for weeks on end. This wasn’t very efficient, and ultimately was a waste of resources. Airbnb then came along and allowed you to rent out a room in your home, or the entire place. This not only gives you an additional income stream, but also reduces the number of hotels and holiday homes needed, resulting in an estimated 63% drop in energy usage when compared to its hotel counterparts. The more consistent usage of idle homes and rooms is leading to a to a more efficient use of the planet’s resources (sometimes being green can make you some more, well … green).
Then there’s Parkhound, a platform which allows everyday homeowners the ability rent out their spare parking spaces or garages. This reduces the amount of parking required in cities, leaving more room for greenery and parks.
Uber Pool has also embraced the Sharing Economy and is a massive leap towards reducing greenhouse gases produced by vehicles. It is estimated that motor vehicles contribute approximately 75% of the total carbon monoxides gases, and over 27% of greenhouse gases globally. Carpooling would reduce this pollution by an estimated 30%. Impressive, isn’t it?
I think you can see where I’m going with all of this.
In an instant gratification, bigger is better world, it is quite difficult to stop and take cognizance of how wasteful we’ve become and how inefficient the use of our scarce resources is. The Sharing Economy is a massive step towards a more inclusive, resource efficient world for a planet which really needs it. It requires a fundamental shift from each one of us and a conscious effort to become aware of what we’re using and wasting daily. In the words of one of the wisest purple dinosaurs to ever exist “sharing is caring.”