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« How Might Humanity Survive a Radically Changing World? | Main | Mommy, where do jobs come from? »

August 30, 2011

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Shoudaknown

It does indeed make a big difference in the meaning, that you read my word "reorganize" as "recognize"!! ;-)

I had written a reply a couple days ago, but now can't find it. It used the example of hurricanes, and how we can observe them reorganizing as they first drift over warm water then again when they drift over land. The first change is for them to develop a clearly defined wall around the eye, that then later collapses.

During the time when our economy was discovering its ever richer supplies of resources it developed a very tight organization for endless growth, designed as if to exploit ever richer resources forever. As we hit the natural point where newly discovered resources fell short of increasing demand for them, any expanding resource needs had to be taken from some other part of the economy, “cannibalistically” you might say. The businesses that grew did so by consuming contested rather than uncontested resources, or even each other.

When that change in the relation between the economic system and its environment occurred, ALL the social values of growth naturally changed meaning too, regardless of whether anyone noticed or not. It's a change in the organizing principles of the economy that was not apparent to most people, even most who think of themselves as being observant.

So that's the kind of reorganization of natural relationships I think is important watch closely for, to anticipate, and to observe developing when it really begins happening. Otherwise a society is caught "flat footed" and pays a heavy price, as we are now. It can’t act because it is quite unaware of what symptoms have what causes, quite unable to even discuss the subject.

Phil Henshaw

George, this is the third time I've thought I had posted this. Hope the "blog god" is up to speed today...
---
It does indeed make a big difference in the meaning, that you read my word "reorganize" as "recognize"!! ;-)

I had written a reply a couple days ago, but now don't see it. It used the example of hurricanes, and how we can observe them reorganizing as they first drift over warm water then again when they drift over land. The first change is for them to develop a clearly defined wall around the eye, that then later collapses.

During the time when our economy was discovering its ever richer supplies of resources it developed a very tight organization for endless growth, designed as if to exploit ever richer resources forever. As we hit the natural point where newly discovered resources fell short of increasing demand for them, any expanding resource needs had to be taken from some other part of the economy, “cannibalistically” you might say. The businesses that grew did so by consuming contested rather than uncontested resources, or even each other.

When that change in the relation between the economic system and its environment occurred, ALL the social values of growth naturally changed meaning too, regardless of whether anyone noticed or not. It's a change in the organizing principles of the economy that was not apparent to most people, even most who think of themselves as being observant.

So that's the kind of reorganization of natural relationships I think is important watch closely for, to anticipate, and to observe developing when it really begins happening. Otherwise a society is caught "flat footed" and pays a heavy price, as we are now. It can’t act because it is quite unaware of what symptoms have what causes, quite unable to even discuss the subject.


George Mobus

Phil,

The first one came through OK, I think.

Whoops! That does make a big difference. Thanks for responding and clearing it up. I will get back to the article when I am over the current mid-quarter hump of grading!

Needless to say I agree that most people, even the so-called experts, have not figured out what is happening. People like Paul Krugman are still claiming we need to get back to a "growth" economy because that is the only model they have known and think they understand.

The cannibalizing you mention is in line with why I claimed that globalization, in the form of chasing cheaper labor costs, was a response to slowing growth in the net energy supplies. Later as we passed the peak of net energy per capita, (i.e. as Chinese workers started wanting more stuff and their numbers were added to the pool of people needing more net energy) that led to intense pressures to over financialize the economy to keep up appearances of growth. Inflating housing prices and using the phony values to borrow more for consumption was just the tip of the iceberg and the tipping point, it seems, to bring the whole masquerade down.

George

Shoudaknown

There's an even BIGGER change in the thought process that comes when you recognize that the active parts of ecosystems are whole individual systems. You begin to look at them as individually animated, somehow, and their internal designs and environmental relationships constantly reorganizing as they interact with their environments. Equations can't do that.

It means you've switched the subject of science from the study of our abstract ideas the working parts of nature themselves. Strictly speaking, only subjects that can be strictly defined, like "data" and "theory", can be subjects of study for the scientific method (except as used in SEA so far as I know). So science then simply unable to study "things" in their natural form, and can only study them as parts of our abstract models.

The big difference it makes to learn how to study the actual working parts of nature includes the range of new questions one needs to ask about individually behaving systems. You are also then studying "perfect models" of the real subject of interest. For both reasons you can then ask a wide range of questions you simply never got to ask of an abstract model. You might ask how the parts of a growth system change their behavior toward each other, as the whole runs out of room to expand.

Of course, as a growth system runs out of new stuff to consume the growing parts run into each other. So the behavior of the parts switches from consuming more and more unclaimed stuff to consuming each other's stuff.

One of the most interesting features of that kind of profound behavioral change is that it occurs without any noticeable event taking place. It's a distinct change in kind in the organization of the larger system with no immediately observable cause.

As to the post I thought wasn't recorded, it seems I just didn't turn to the next page...! ;-) Anyway, I think I said it better on the retry.

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