While growing, I learned that human have 3 basic needs: meal, cloth and a house. If we look at the history, the basic needs sound reasonable. Nowadays, these basic needs has been transformed into desire of luxury and lavishness for human society, irrespective of their purchasing power. While searching for temporal joy and artificial peace, we, human badly ruined the nature including species, water resource and earth’s atmosphere. The question is, what if human, one day achieve all the luxury but, left with unclean air to breathe and dirty water to drink, what cost can be paid for making these resources useful. Isn’t seems that in those circumstances, the definition of basic need will change to clean water and pure air.

  • In Western philosophy, a way to approach this may be an investigation of the problem of human Will: for instance the contrast between Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on one side, and T. Adorno-M. Horkheimer and late Heidegger on the other side. – Gordon Apr 4 '18 at 13:35
  • The three basic needs: meal, cloth and a house have a common denominator: survival. When clean water and pure air will become ncessary for survival, they will become "basic needs" also. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 4 '18 at 14:39
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA, one might argue that clean water already is a part of meal. Moreover pure air also already is needed for survival, but it isn't in short supply and even is free. – rus9384 Apr 5 '18 at 22:00
  • How is this related to philosophy? This is just a general statement and overly broad, and leading, request for opinions. – CriglCragl Apr 6 '18 at 0:08
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    You needn't ask 'what if' since we are already in this position. Clean water and air are going to be the new luxuries. – user20253 Apr 6 '18 at 12:09

The wording of your question makes it a little difficult to answer.

Basically, you claim that food, clothing and homes have traditionally been equated with quality of life. Though obviously important, clean air and water have long been taken for granted because of their sheer abundance.

But the importance of clear air and water is beginning to register as they become more scarce.

The crux of your question appears to be either 1) Is there a tradeoff? or 2) If so, what is the tradeoff?

There clearly is a tradeoff, and it's staggering; the very survival of humanity is increasingly in jeopardy. Even if we survive, the quality of life will continue to spiral downward.

A capitalist would say that a resource becomes more valuable (in financial terms) as it becomes more scarce. Simple common sense dictates that clean air and water (along with other environmental things) are becoming more valuable in more than economic terms.

The fact that many nations have created national parks and reserves, regulated the harvesting of natural resources and supported the Kyoto Protocol (all but the U.S., I believe) bears this out.

But this is the statement that confuses me:

The question is, what if human, one day achieve all the luxury but, left with unclean air to breathe and dirty water to drink, what cost can be paid for making these resources useful.

First, we can never achieve "all the luxury." The world's billionaires already have more luxury than they need, but even their quality of life index is diminishing. There are millions of poor people who can't get enough to eat, let alone luxuries.

But I'm not sure what you mean by "What cost can be paid for making these resources useful."

I assume the resources you're referring to are (clean) air and water. But what do you mean by making them useful? They're already useful. Or are you asking about the cost of restoring or purifying them?

And what do you mean by "What cost..."? Are you asking how much it will cost to clean up the environment?

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  • Clean water was clearly not abundant during the parts of European history that allowed the English and the Germans to limit their death rates by preferring tea and beer to water. – user9166 Jul 20 '18 at 17:34

The problem you describe is more complex. In any society, if 5% live a life of luxury, and 95% lead a simple life, the environment stays in balance. It's just that everyone would prefer to be within those 5% rather than in the 95%.

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  • To be more exact: 1% are the masters, 4% are the buffer / luxury zone and 95% are the slaves wanting to be anywhere else but in the 95%. – Overmind Apr 17 '18 at 10:22
  • @Overmind, 0.01-0.0001% are the masters. – rus9384 May 5 '18 at 22:27
  • The top I meant. Of those, below 1% are the true masters no-one knows about. – Overmind May 7 '18 at 7:07
  • How many countries can you name that can boast a "balanced" environment? Even people who live "simple lives" can trash the environment, and the legendary 1% get rich largely by exploiting the environment. – David Blomstrom Jul 5 '18 at 3:19

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