Why finance has a bigger appetite than the earth

Earth Bubble


The whole general story of how the economy works now, and how it needs to.

Finance starts with someone’s savings, and “makes” money by money managers giving some to other people with the understanding they will give more back. The borrower is left to find a way to use the earth to make more back from it, by any practical means available to them. Continue reading Why finance has a bigger appetite than the earth

At Thanksgiving, unexpected bounty – Peak Zucchini

And to repeat, here’s my little tale of unexpected bounty, that takes on new colors and meanings every year, as our world rapidly changes. Peak Zucchini

My favorite zucchini recipe at the moment is to split them lengthwise, grill and then turn them over to cover them with stuff… chopped sundried tomatoes, pesto, strong cheese, oregano, onion and garlic salt..shredded fresh basil or whatever you have time fix, and put them back in till it combines… WoW!

Zucchini medly for Thanksgiving


Or is the end of growth a great “Right of Passage”?

I’ve been adding a introductory notes to my 4/1/10 post on Keynes’ “Widow’s Cruse that seems to have grown into something I should post on its own too.


The corresponding natural phenomenon he described is much more aptly termed “the youthful novice challenge” than by “the widow’s cup”.

Was Keynes ignored because he chose an odd name for the parable?

It’s really not a “bitter pill” for growth systems finding themselves in unexpected unfamiliar environments, to discover their own objectives at that point, and a way to mature and thrive as part of a stable world. Every youthful novice goes through that basic life challenge in some way, and a great many live up to it. Continue reading Or is the end of growth a great “Right of Passage”?

Shadow Banking, out of the shadow

There’s a nice report out of the NY Federal Reserve on Shadow Banking. That’s the ability of the great sloshing global pool of money to act as a world bank, without any safety net. I wrote an apparently effective note, got a nice response from the author.


Dear NY Fed

A comment on your July 2010 report.  Shadow banking is an emergent natural system.  I’m a natural systems scientist who studies the difference between scientific theories and complex natural systems.

Equations can’t have independently learning parts, for example, but economies and other natural systems rely heavily on the adaptive processes of their parts. So, that adds to the long list of reasons for why abstract theories tend to have a short “shelf life”, you could say. Continue reading Shadow Banking, out of the shadow

Climate and The “powers that be”

Helmut Lubbers – Ecoglobe.com – circulated a description of the ITCSDclimate.orggrowth promotion efforts that are helping prevent the world’s critical response to climate change.



I think the problem is better defined as a disease of believing our own myths, several separate ones at once. How our minds do that is less important than realizing that every mind seems capable of it, and a regular way to go back and forth between observation and belief is needed. Otherwise we can’t make sure our own myths are resting on something solid. Continue reading Climate and The “powers that be”

What exactly is the wealth divide II

Robin Smith posted Where Are My Wages Going on his blog and What Exactly is the Wealth Divide on the Finance Lab. He offers the following simple image and statement, worth considering and questioning.

He says: There is no mystery as to the root cause of poverty. Both the Private State and the Welfare State are robbing us. And giving it all away to landowners and banks.

Robin Smiths graph of



I’d be interested in what else you’ve done. I think the valid point you’re making is that there is indeed a long term systemic trend of more and more future income being paid to people who saved past income. I’ve made what I think are definitive models of why that arises, and what to do about it since the early 80’s. Continue reading What exactly is the wealth divide II

Models Learning Change – published by Cosmos & History

My 2010 research paper for Cosmos & History is just published. It describes how scientists can guide their models of natural systems to change along with the evolutionary changes in the systems being modeled, “Models Learning Change” (PDF).


The classic case of systems that people in them will need to change their models for, is that of growth economies.  Their growth is a process of rapidly evolving organizational development, with many natural limits as an environmental system.

Ways to anticipate when the ‘=’ signs of a model should be again considered as ‘?’ marks are discussed. A change the model is called for, for example, at the point when a growth economy’s environment becomes increasingly unresponsive to increasing investment. Continue reading Models Learning Change – published by Cosmos & History

What if I were in power, what would I change?

On Nov 12, 9:08 am, Joan Sutherland wrote:
> Please propose Phil, how you – if you were in power -would legislate changes
> to your nation’s economy and environnmental policies to create the changes *
> you* want to see, without creating a dictatorship.
> joan



Well… OK, but if I were in power and could write my own legislation without anyone understanding quite why… wouldn’t I then BE a dictator?

I think the question has to be, how would a new way of thinking about the problem become of enough interest to people for them to see the importance of understanding how to make it work, a kind of different question. Continue reading What if I were in power, what would I change?

The story of the Missing Stuff

Re: Annie Leonard’s brilliant work in the “The Story of Stuff“, and the hiding places where nature puts some of the missing stuff.

Annie, Hi, great work, I’ve always admired it. I’m a natural systems scientist, and… there’s a whole LOT of “missing stuff”. Closely studying the mystery of how nature organizes things into “whole systems” has a secret power, that any one part can lead you to… layer upon layer of the missing stuff. We should have a lot to talk about, but catching your attention is a difficulty these days.

Unseen universes abound, at all scales and energies, lives known only by feint traces, the true reality beyond our words

Most people assume that once they’ve found one answer to a question, that’s it, and there’s nothing else to look for. But oh no, that’s usually the beginning not the end. Like, people see 1 thing wrong with money and think fixing that fixes every thing that is wrong with money. Nope, you have to look at things from ALL sides to find ALL the gaping holes. Just patching up the first thing that comes into sight isn’t enough. After a stumble you may tie your scarf and in a hurry “look smart”, but not notice you’ve been sitting in mud! Continue reading The story of the Missing Stuff