Signal from nature of strain

Mary’s response (to my note below)

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Phil – You are so nice to set your ideas forth. This one really resonates with me:

It’s that signal from nature of strain on the resource that we need to read differently. We’ve been reading it backwards, essentially. We’ve been seeing it as a signal of where to do things so our systems can continue multiplying.

We need change that to reading it as a signal of “enough”

…..and point to how to set holistic targets for where everything connected should stabilize.

Of course, to do that you need to break the growth imperative, which would mean going through the struggle of figuring out how to talk about it. It’s all about continually multiplying opportunity inevitably leasing to trouble too, after all.

I’m going to keep thinking about this idea and incorporate it more. You are onto something here that I haven’t dealt with in the past. Very intriguing. I think we are at the point where we must seek out stability not growth. Actually, we were at that point a long time ago. The water example has troubled me for nearly 20 years.

I worked for a judge in Reno and while I was there someone told me NOT to conserve water, because it would just bring more people in. I thought it was a good point then, but never really have dealt with it.

Thanks. Mary

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in response to:

Mary,

There seem to be two reasons to think that the solution is really the process of learning involved. One reason is that we have a lot to learn about the natural signals for what’s out of balance, and where the lines of conflict are with our environments.

The other is that sustainability is itself a distributed system engaged in a learning process, the human ecology system itself.

One of the ways of tracing causes in systems is by tracing the chain of effects that result from creating opportunities for other things. If water is a bottleneck for development then if everyone cuts their water use in half the opportunity you create increases the urban infrastructure as a whole by the same factor… i.e. doubling it.

For the environment that’s a big cost, and there’s no net savings for the strained resource. The trick is that if it was not a strained resource, *there would be no incentive to conserve it* and conserving it would not result in any increase in development.

That means that if conserving anything is profitable it’s likely to cause greater impacts down the road by momentarily reduce it’s use by conservation. That would probably remove bottlenecks for expanding other things. …sneaky no?

It’s that signal from nature of strain on the resource that we need to read differently. We’ve been reading it backwards, essentially. We’ve been seeing it as a signal of where to do things so our systems can continue multiplying.

We need change that to reading it as a signal of “enough” and point to how to set holistic targets for where everything connected should stabilize. Of course, to do that you need to break the growth imperative, which would mean going through the struggle of figuring out how to talk about it.

It’s all about continually multiplying opportunity inevitably leasing to trouble too, after all. Maybe that will be somewhat easier now that the system is seriously broken again.

Best, Phil Henshaw

 

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