Deep Doodoo

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The problem is that intentions which are based on faulty assumptions are doomed to failure.” Steve McCurry

FYI, below is a letter I sent to a fellow scientist.

1. If all scientists thought alike we would be in deep doodoo. They nearly do and we are.

2. If the scientists were paying attention to the whole living reality it wouldn’t be necessary for me and a couple of other people (most prominently and tirelessly, Jane Goodall) to spend all our time trying to draw their attention to the emergent properties of the entire living system within which we make our only home.

Actually, the reason I think you should read COLLAPSE has to do with the details of how these things do and have happened in the past, within the past 6000 years. Diamond does an excellent job of bringing all the data to bear on the holistic reality in multiple different cases of collapses that were caused by more growth than the resources of the ecosystem could support. So in hindsight we can see what caused the collapse, and it was different in every case (except of course for the foundational cause, which was excessive growth of economy and population). Whatever are his conclusions I already knew before I read the book, but the reason for reading is the lovely collection of facts that he presents — the details he uses to construct a world view that is in accord with the facts on the ground. Taken together, Diamond’s COLLAPSE and Barabasi’s LINKED should be read by every scientist who believes the details are more important than the whole picture — or believes we can understand the whole picture by adding up all the details.

The whole point of networks, such as the internet or the ecosystem, is that the details can change without loss of the emergent properties — up to a point. The emergent property of the ecosystem is all of life on this earth. And when we reach the point, the collapse is awesome, it is very quick and it’s not possible to go back — oops, shouldn’t have done that — and change it. And we can’t know what that point is by studying the details. And of course we can not avoid it by reducing global warming because global warming is only a symptom, not the cause of the unbalanced ecosystem; the only viable solution is to modify our growth ethic or at least our growth behavior, and the only good that I see coming from our obsession with global warming is that we might make the connection between global warming and over-use of resources. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be have decided to use global warming as an excuse to not deal with over-growth.

Nobody needs me to help treat the symptoms of an overtaxed ecosystem — war, genocide, starvation, disease and the other methods the ecosystem uses to try to save her own life in the face of cancerous growths in her body. The world abounds with people trying to make their reputations by claiming to do something that will help — something that will not, in fact, change the cancerous growth that threatens the ecosystem because the things most people choose to do simply add to the problem of overgrowth. Especially as we continue to let the corporations and the corporate media (even PBS and the NGOs that I have studied) rename every problem as a lack healthy growth and then throw more growth in as the supposed solution.

There is no such thing as healthy, sustainable growth in a living thing.

  • Congratulations all you who have helped to make this almost a book: Bare Bones Ecology – or rather Part one, Energy. This is the final entry on the blog, and the book is now in production. Probably I will find a way to post it on this blog so that you may print it out, hold it in your hands, read from front to back, and share with others who want to know more about the home we live in and to be able to understand more about how our behaviors affect her survival.

  • P.S.(LL I would add Chaos to the reading list)