“Do more with less” is the ethos of austerity. “Do more with more” is the ethos of the abundant world to which we should aspire.
Everyone concerned with climate and environment ought to read Matt Frost’s argument for reversing climate change through energy abundance, which is a genuinely original and provocative contribution to the discourse. Though I have my reservations about his proposed solutions (which tend toward high technology and engineering) in light of my commitments to biodiversity, landscape restoration, and rural community development. However, he is absolutely right (even within my more crunchy framework) that an appeal to austerity gets us nowhere, either rhetorically or in practice. Even when I follow thinkers like Wendell Berry in pursuing life in a smaller scale, it’s not that I am grimly accepting a necessary discipline but that in fact such constraints offer more of the things that I value: more time outdoors and with my kids, more quiet and reflective time, more enjoyment of my food and my home. “Do more with more” is the ethos of the permaculture practitioner and the regenerative farmer as well, even if that “more” is “more biology” rather than “more energy.”