Uncategorized

Folk Tales, Foreign Policy, and the Value of Systems Thinking

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

In the tale of the boy who cried wolf, a boy who is tending sheep and serving as a lookout for wolves seeks to relieve his boredom and gain attention by crying wolf when in fact there is no wolf. This decision/policy succeeds for a while, then it no longer works. A systems thinking [...]

Why Systems Thinking?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

My explicit focus on systems thinking in writing and teaching comes from an awareness, spreading slowly through the knowledge business, that it is an essential approach to all inquiry intended for application to real world problems. For its importance to be taken seriously and applied to all important issues in everyday life, systems thinking needs [...]

The Future of Industrial Society: “Progress”, A Microscopic Scientific Paradigm, and Blowback

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Nothing is more important to understanding the behavior of a large social entity than awareness of its collective worldview. Usually that worldview is so deeply embedded and taken for granted that its inhabitants rarely know that it exists and shapes their individual and collective behavior in many ways. A common parallel is fish who do [...]

What systems thinking reveals: from biology to political economy

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

The way we do science today suffers greatly from the dominance of the reductionist paradigm. A general pattern has emerged where technologies based on purely reductive science work for a while as expected, then start to produce unexpected and often unwanted results, outcomes that at least from a reductionist perspective are a surprise and are [...]

Scenarios of Political Response to Energy Descent Crises

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

A number of students of the energy descent have concluded that the new era will include tipping points where key economic and political institutions suddenly go into crisis[1]. Charles Hugh Smith, for example, describes “snapback” points[2] when increasing divergence between “phantom wealth” and real wealth collapses. In The Case for a Disorderly Descent I described [...]

Cities and Suburbs in the Energy Descent: Thinking in Scenarios

Monday, October 8th, 2012

This article was originally reviewed, edited and published by Tompkins County Relocalization, a group in upstate New York that is researching various aspects of energy descent.
“A city could be defined, almost, as a human ecosystem that grossly exceeds the carrying capacity of its local environment.” – William Catton

The vulnerability of cities and suburbs in [...]

How Many People Can the World Really Hold?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Spreading awareness that the human population is in overshoot of the carrying capacity of the planet has led to a number of attempts to calculate what the true carrying capacity might be. My objective here is not to provide another calculation, but to explore some issues that need to be faced to address the question [...]

Reductionist Science and the Rise of Capitalism: Implications for a New Educational Program of Agricultural Science

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The thesis of this essay is that there is a way of doing science that is characteristic of scientific inquiry under capitalism because its methods provide the kind of “irresponsible knowledge” that a profit-at-whatever-cost social system like capitalism requires. As my title implies, I will argue that as capitalism evolved to become an ever more [...]

An Outline of Benefits from a Lower Energy Civilization

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The Premises
The universe ultimately runs on an energy economy, not a market economy as the dominant economic ideology claims. Ecological damage is tied to energy use of any kind in our peculiar type of economy where the operating rules of the system require maximization of profits at any cost. Unrestrained profit maximization in turn impels [...]

Implications for Agriculture of Peak Cheap Energy

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

By way of introduction to what I have to say, let me explain the evolution of my thinking. As a farmer for 30 years, I have been an active participant in the movement to develop alternatives to Industrial Agriculture. As you may know, much of the motivation for that movement was a growing awareness of [...]

« Previous Entries Next Entries »