(see also #1 Issue in Sustainability Today)
Well, not compounding your returns has the same sort of Catch 22 that doing great sustainable design and having the profits go to pumping up the world’s appetites does. You need to build a broader reason for doing the right thing. For sustainable design we definitely do still need to learn how to live in a sustainable world, even if we don’t have one, and it has to make business sense.
On the first level we just need to respond to the contradictions involved, rather than avoid them. Once there’s a critical mass of people who see that finance has to be different in a sustainable world, then you can think of how it’ll work for the community as a whole. Continue reading Schematic Design of Sustainability
Posted to FRIAM 1/27/07
So I didn’t get takers on the question of what internal limits to growth apply when there are no external limits. It’s sort of a trick question. My approach to the answer has to do with the difference between physical and theoretical systems.
Mostly we think about physical systems as if they behaved like theoretical ones but theories are infinitely malleable and have no inherent limits, internal or external. They’re just projections of rules and natural limits are discoveries of changes in the rules, not extensions. Continue reading The internal limits riddle
post to FRIAM 1/20/07
marking a map to help navigating the sysems territory
One of the things that Roger’s comments bring out about the discontinuities you find in tracing organism growth (epigenesis) is the question of markers. Normal single growth curves are famous for representing huge changes and having almost no markers at all to signify what’s really happening.
There really are only two places on them that are easy to mark, the upward and downward inflection points (¸¸ .·|´ ¯ and ¯`|·. ¸¸ respectively). The origins and endings of the curves seem completely disguised by the smallness of events at their tails.
Elsewhere in the history of their changes the wide distribution of seemingly unconnected but well orchestrated events makes it very hard to single out any particular thing for significance. The inflection points, however, can be made quite mathematically precise, and do approximately correspond to matching major changes in what’s going on. Continue reading Quite easy to mark
posted to AIA COTE forum 1/20/07
Steering feedback systems is tricky…
Anyone who has changed jobs and had to move investment accounts is familiar with the temptation to buy funds that are high, and just about to fall, and get rid of ones that are low, and just about to rise. Emotional first impressions are generally not a good guide for complex systems, and can cause us to make consistently bad choices.
We have problems of this kind in the design of the sustainability movement I think. Conservation is good, living simply is good, inventing cool things and making room for others is good, and doing these so our world can continually increase its consumption by steady small percents is a total disaster.
Continue reading Buy High Sell Low
Posted to [FRIAM] 1/13/07
On thing worth adding is the reason it’s useful to consider the maze of instrumental behaviors that constitute systems in the context of the whole envelope of their developments (¸¸¸.·´ ¯ `·.¸¸¸)from beginning to end. It turns the mystery of complex developmental systems into the puzzle of when and how they’ll go through the classic switches and display the key landmarks of doing so. Continue reading Fun and sand piles
Posted to AIA COTE forum 1/11/07
A great old oak that’s been the center of it’s neighborhood for decades, home to wild life and children’s play, a long labor for leaf raking and thing of beauty in every season, began it’s life with exponential growth that was equally splendid in its transformative magic even if also quite brief and left it quite small. A tree’s period of explosive growth and change ends about when it has it’s first two leaves, before it knows what branches are, or a trunk, or seasons, while it’s skin is still shiny, before it’s had a life.
The question is what would you say to a young little shoot who thought that this was quite unacceptable, and was inconsolable about the apparent fact it’s explosive growth was ending and it could imagine nothing of interest that could ever happen to it again. The idea of seasonal growth was like a vulgarity to it and completely unthinkable. What would you say to persuade it to take a sustainable path?
After trying and failing to set it straight again and again, would y Continue reading What do you tell a tree?
Posted to the AIA Committee on the Environment Forum 1/6/07
…… It violates normality… but isn’t the more remarkable thingourrelative national silence about the whole torrent of authentic new evidence of rapid change in the climate ? No one anywhere seems to be up in arms about it, when beating the lag times is EVERYTHING in having any real impact on the eventual heating of the globe!Its a lot like another curious disconnect, that has been raised time and again but has always been pushed aside for ‘more immediate concerns’.
When you’re multiplying your consumption, doing it more efficiently doesn’t really change anything. That’s been brought up time an again during the 40 years I’ve been watching the environmental movement. It just dies as a topic of discussion, even though it actually does directly invalidate the dominant conservation centered approach to saving the world’s environments. Continue reading 70 degrees in New York today…!