Archive for May, 2010

beyond sustainability: on systems evolving to absorb shocks

egg brittle

Jamais Cascio wonders how we can live within our means when those means can change beneath us, sometimes swiftly and unexpectedly (via foreignpolicy).

According to Cascio, sustainability is not enough if it is seen as "the right combination of behavior and technology that allows us some measure of stability".

"A sustainable world can avoid imminent disaster, but it will remain on the precipice until the next shock", says Cascio.

Cascio's solution? Shoot for resilience, instead, and "accept that change is inevitable and in many cases out of our hands, focusing instead on the need to be able to withstand the unexpected."

Published by Ken on May 17th, 2010 tagged Island Ecosystems | 1 Comment »

the physics of sustainability: on zero entropy systems

max entropy

My 2002 book stressed “closing the loops”, and we’ve since learned much about how this can be done.

In one key moment, physicist Mae-Wan Ho half-accidentally discovered that “living organisms appear like a dynamic liquid-crystal-display”. This must mean, reasoned Ho, that living organisms are highly organized, and "coherent energy is being mobilized and transformed in the organisms”.

Ho set out to reformulate the thermodynamics for living systems, based on this core principle, which has “large implications for ecosystems, food, health and economies."

Most important, our "maximum entropy" model is precisely wrong. We need a "zero-entropy" model of sustainable systems.

Published by Ken on May 2nd, 2010 tagged Sustainability Science, Systems Thinking | Comments Off