Opportunity Cost

The extent to which doing one thing means that you cannot at the same time do something else; the cost of having to forgo doing the next best thing—the thing which you would otherwise be doing with your time. For further definition, and discussion of its significance, see Slack and Taut.

Note that the ‘costs’ of some actions are actually benefits. For example, when you weed the vegetable bed, this has costs, in that it requires you to do a couple of hours’ work. However, if you enjoy it, if you benefit from the exercise which you would have to take anyway, and if you are not sacrificing some other important thing which you want or need to do more, then the cost of weeding the bed is negative—i.e., not a net cost, but a benefit.

Another example: the cost of energy-efficiency in your home as a measure to help to achieve the energy descent and stabilise the climate may not in fact be a cost at all. Unless it is expensive and inefficient, it will in due course save you money.


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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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