Steps to a natural systems view

Over the years I’ve made various attempts to give people a good set of principles for introducing my way of observing and understanding the workings of natural environmental systems (1).

9 steps of discovery

A suggestion that I try again resulted in the following page, describing 9 steps of discovery. They’re to be made meaningful to someone using them by leading to their discovering things they never would have guessed, about their own world.   The goal is gaining a far better general understanding how nature creates and animates her very complexly well organized systems.

The trick in all of it,
is that what we “see” is not what nature is doing, but what we’re thinking of,
making consciousness quite different from reality.

The real world system of nature to understand are the various familiar and unfamiliar things that develop and work by themselves.   That includes the weather, social systems, economies, ecologies, but also organisms, storms, currents, cultural events and emerging technologies, etc.   They’re also little things like rust spots that magically appear by themselves on your car or other small individual events.

Emergent complex systems that take place “by themselves” in the sense of there being no evidence of central deterministic control, are also found in any spontaneous gesture like a smile, a handshake, or even the experience of personal feelings and thoughts, as form of complex organization in nature that come and go, and lack a pre-existing template for how to do that.

These are clear case of nature having to invent the path in the process of building and completing the process.   What opens the door to appreciating them is having a method of observation that fits them all, as following the enduring pattern for all scales and kinds of observable events as completing their own individual life-cycle.

The critical observation is to answer the question “what’s piling up” NOT “what’s the formula”.   It’s only theory that world by formulas.  Nature works by piling up, so that’s what you study when the subject is how can nature behave in a way not in our formulas.

Observation (2)

something about both the thing developing is “in-spired” from inside
and why the environment it is in makes that possible


1) The Art of Observation from Physics for Open Systems, and added resources:

2) Image found at Homeschool Hints : Developing Observation Skills

Continue reading Steps to a natural systems view

Self-organization as “niche making”

Marinella posted regarding research on self-organization at NECSI (the New England Complex System’s Institute LinkedIn forum):

“I’ve found this research really interesting, as it goes (finally!) against our deepest beliefs in human (in) ability to collaborate and be socially engaged without specific behavioral rules. People behave socially and ‘well’ even without rules Fundamentally people behave in a social and rather compassionate and ‘good’ way rather than aggressively, even without specified rules.”

I think the more useful relationship is that “rules” for how to behave quite often just affirm how things work best naturally.   So *rules follow people rather than people follow rules*.  Every sort of “system” is recognized as embodying an emergent sets of rules that work.  So, social rules that describe what’s been found to work in the world assure that people are free to behave the way they’d mostly want to anyway.

They’re also remarks about the whole self-organizing system of relationships displaying them, whether you call it a community, culture, nation, niche, commons, world, language, or movement, etc.   Those rules, of course, may also need to change as the world around them does.   It means that rules inherently also represent stages of learning for a system, not end points. That’s often the real source of friction, as old rules clash with the need to find new ways of making things work.  My comments below expand on the way we find rules that work, as “niche making”.



Simple examples of self-organization like those really help.   The common habit of explaining everything with deterministic rules needs to be shaken gently, it seems.     I tend to not find cooperation as deterministically caused, for example, but opportunistically discovered.    One easy way to pick it out is with seeing how niches for innovation form in the gaps between and to connect other things.

Diverse individual niches work to connect resilient cultural networks

After years of working with simple examples to help me separate those two paths to causation, I think the deterministic and self-organizing aspects of nature fit together just fine.

Seen as a difference between “imposed” and “discovered” causation can also then be understood as between “remotely determined” and “locally developed” causation.   Examples of the latter might range from the opportunistic formation of a rust pit, on what had been a smooth shiny metal surface, or of social subcultures taking off in some whole new way. Continue reading Self-organization as “niche making”

Approaching 30 days from the 40th Anniversary

There seems to be no news yet.   The recent 40th anniversary meeting at the Smithsonian on the publication of “The Limits to Growth” and the clearly most urgent of our many dire environmental dilemmas of our time, with little exception, has gotten almost no attention in the mainstream popular or environmental press.  So you’ll have to hear it from a real scientist as to why.

The reason is that the mainstream press is limited to discussing social issues.  That our means of sustaining our prosperity is rapidly exhausting the earth just isn’t one of them, as the resource scientists who study “the blue ball” actually “have no social standing”.   There’s a fascinating history to that, that reveals some eye opening new science.

A nice place to visit,
Was a wonderful place to live,
with tremendous open spaces, and overflowing with natural wealth

Continue reading Approaching 30 days from the 40th Anniversary

All time Top 22

Top page Requests for:

 Reading  Nature’s  Signals   &

All time Top:    1. 22 of May/11,    2. 30 of Aug/11,    3. 39 of Jan/12


Top 85 Jun 2013 Top Blog PostsTop Archive Pages
Top 67 Dec 2012 Top Blog Posts & Top Archive Pages




# Reads                   Page/Post Title

3. Top 39  in Jan 2012

557           2007/08/18    Whether successfully averted for the moment or not/

328           2011/07/18    My most disturbing finding/

322                                 Phpub.htm (publications list)

302                                 Systems Energy Assessment (SEA)/

186           2011/07/27    Urges arousal and keynes animal spirits/

162                                 Design/dollarshadow.htm ($’s = btu’s)

118                                 Cartoons/ (mostly New Yorker’s)

115           2011/08/05    Its the leeches that make us strong/

101                                 Pub/EffMultiplies.htm (natural effects of efficiency)

100                                 Chapters.htm (“S” curve reading templates) Continue reading All time Top 22

SEA – energy accounting “far more holes than cheese”

Emmeline, at was looking for recent innovation is sustainability to review for recognition.  In a short email exchange she persuaded me to try to find a simple explanation again, for my recent radical discovery.  It’s that our information on the scale of energy demands that business place on the economy is “far more holes than cheese“.    See also

Are the holes in your map helping you read the territory?
Self-organization as “niche making”

On 3/7/12 I replied,

Thanks very much for your nice reply.    If you care to consider it for recognition, last fall I published a long paper on the evidence of a true 80% hole in our information on business energy use, that is sorely needing attention.

We don’t have information on what self-managing service providers are doing, because they don’t record or report it.

The study identifies a deep structural problem in what we know about complex business service networks.   We don’t have information on what self-managing service providers are doing, because they don’t record or report it.

In a contrarian way that large gap in our information is exactly what gets missed by a “focus on transparency and clarity and measurement, being more accurate”.   It has to do with estimating known kinds of impacts that go unmeasured for lack of information.  It’s only due to the nature of outsourced business services having evident impacts that are individually untraceable, and so provide no data to count. Continue reading SEA – energy accounting “far more holes than cheese”

With endless exploding energy…

“Endless exploding energy” is quite temporary, of course.

Think of any example, any case where it’s not just the start of things.  We might start our day or a new business effort with a burst of “endless exploding energy”, but not really mean that literally.  “Endless exploding energy”, if you mean it literally, generally causes things to rip themselves apart, destructively. With our economy there’s little doubt we mean it literally, is the problem, inherent in the universal plan for “real growth” at stable positive exponential rates.

Think of any of the quite common examples, and then wonder: Why haven’t people been curious about it? Our whole design for economic prosperity involves using energy to multiply energy use, to take endless exploding control of the earth’s energy resources, for empowering our social relationships,

to “take off”, and keep using ever more, ever faster,
the more we use.

The idea of our ever exploding future... literally!

I don’t know why I am perhaps one of the only living people to have had the curiosity to break free of the misconceptions leading our culture to be so committed to increasing our energy use by bigger steps the more we use, forever.  Somehow I both:

  1. noticed the signs of there being something deeply wrong with our knowledge of life, and
  2. discovered the universal solution for how to respond upon finding one’s own life rides on an exploding bomb of energy use, with no built in method of turning it off.

Survival is only possible if we use the energy it grows by… for something better,

The use of our own and the earth’s energies for further multiplying our energy uses, managed to explode at maximum rates forever,… is very explicitly managed for doing just that.   It’s readily apparent in our normal uses of money, if you look, found to be innocently posing as if designed to serve everyone’s “self-interest”. Continue reading With endless exploding energy…