Core Ideas

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 [...]

Three Farmhouses: A Study in Passive Solar Design

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I have just added this account of my experiences in energy-efficient housing design and construction to my Core Papers on this website.  It is an attempt to fill a gap in the literature of low energy design that, in view of the long-term energy crisis that the world is entering, I see as a serious [...]

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 [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Five

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Part Five: Peri-urban Agriculture

This series of articles is an exploration of designs for agriculture in Tompkins County to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. In earlier parts of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design; addressed the [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Six

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Part Six: Rural Agriculture
This series of articles is an exploration of designs for agriculture in Tompkins County to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. In earlier parts of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design; addressed the key [...]

Invisible Ships and Boiling Frogs: The End of Industrial Affluence

Monday, June 7th, 2010

It is said that when the ships of the Old World first approached the New World, they were sometimes invisible to the indigenous people of the Americas because the latter could not imagine such a thing as a fleet of large sailing ships, and simply did not believe their eyes.
In the same way, when a [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Four

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Urban Agriculture

This series of articles is an exploration of designs for agriculture in Tompkins County to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. In earlier parts of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design, addressed the key [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Three

Monday, March 8th, 2010

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Seeing County Food Production as an Integrated Whole
In Part One of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design for growers to follow if agriculture is to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. I said that providing [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Two

Monday, February 15th, 2010

General Problem Areas in Sustainable Agricultural Design
In Part One of this series, I noted that providing for the local food needs of urban populations requires a design that integrates three overlapping categories of production systems: urban agriculture systems (many small islands of gardening in the city center), peri-urban agriculture (larger production areas on the immediate [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part One

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Visioning County Food Production
by Karl North
“Because energies and monies for research, development, and thinking are abundant only during growth and not during energy leveling or decline, there is a great danger that means for developing the steady state will not be ready when they are needed, which may be no more than 5 years away [...]

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