From Knowledge Problem:
Do you have a smart phone? If so, list the functions you use on it: phone, camera, video camera, alarm clock, calculator, notepad, address book, maps, music player, and so on. This list scratches the surface, and your list probably differs from mine. One small device that fulfills many roles, substituting for several devices.
As Marian Tupy points out today in a Cato@Liberty post, the smart phone is a versatile, powerful device that is also good for the environment because its substitutability for so many things contributes to dematerialization. Dematerialization is the process of using fewer physical resources (materials and energy) per unit of output or unit of economic activity. As she notes,
Dematerialization, in other words, should be welcome news for those who worry about the ostensible conflict between the growing world population on the one hand and availability of natural resources on the other hand. While opinions regarding scarcity of resources in the future differ, dematerialization will better enable our species to go on enjoying material comforts and be good stewards of our planet at the same time. That is particularly important with regard to the people in developing countries, who ought to have a chance to experience material plenty in an age of rising environmental concerns.The post also has a way-cool graphic to reflect this idea; go check it out!...MORE