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« Autumnal Equinox - 2019 | Main | Happy Vernal Equinox - 2020: A Black Swan Trigger for the Collapse »

December 21, 2019


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Molly Radke

I am SO depressed. The logical INSANITY of living in a firmly entrenched capitalist system which based on the possibility/probablity of INFINITE growth in a FINITE system is driving me crazy. Thank you for being a [alas, sorta lone] voice of reason. Be sure to post when your new book is published. PS: I'm a retired high school social studies teacher, but I've NEVER forgotten the lessons/truths of the wonderful physics courses I took in college.

Bill Roope

Thanks for posting on the equinoxes and solstices. I always look forward to reading your posts. Especially the solstice is the holiday I celebrate because daylight starts getting longer, so more time for hiking. I’m not really depressed at what’s happening. To me, humans are just another iteration of nature, so nothing mankind can do can be ‘unnatural’. But, that does not make us good or wise. Whatever we do, earth will continue it’s evolution and experimentation. We are less than a sudden spark in her multi-billion year life.
It’s very interesting to me, born in 43, that I may have lived through the exponential growth and beginning of the Senica crash of industrial civilization.

Garry speight

Dear George
Since systems are your special field, I would appreciate your comments on dissipative systems that are far from equilibrium and that function by using energy at a maximal rate.
Two bloggers argue that such systems govern human affairs: Gail Tverberg and Raul Ilargi Meijer. They seem to be alone in this view, which seems well-founded to me.
Gail Tverberg's article:
Raul Ilargi Meijer's article:
At first, I thought that their authorities were unrelated, with Gail citing Ilya Prigogine and Ilargi citing A.L. Lotka and H.T. Odum. Then I followed Gail's link to R.E. Ulanowicz, who links these authorities with many others.

If we are governed by such dissipative systems, it seems to me that the priority of the human race must be to defy what has been our evolutionary imperative so far, and cut all energy use down to a level that is sustainable for humans on a finite earth.

Garry Speight

Don Stewart

Dissipartve Systems?
The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can't Be Computed (The MIT Press) written by Kristof Koch.

Antonio Damasio years ago wrote about Descartes' Error...we are because we feel. He cited a man with neurological damage to his connection between thinking and feeling who could rationalize for hours but be unable to decide where to go for lunch.

My suggestion is that we are perfectly capable of thinking about multiple ways to feel good, all of them involving dissipative systems, and we are capable of choosing between them. Even single celled critters can recognize when their environment is becoming polluted and strike out into the unknown trying to find a better place to live. This action requires both what we might label as 'rational' but is also deeply rooted in 'feeling'. I suggest that, in order to address our ecological and energy problems, we will have to find evolutionary paths which are adjacent enough to the path we are currently on and also accessible to us in the real world. There is an eco village in rural Missouri called Dancing Rabbit. It was recently studied by a graduate student at North Texas University. If I remember correctly, they are using about 80 percent less energy than the average American, and achieving a similar quality of life. They have not, however, cut their consumption of education nor travel. One of the biggest barriers to this adjacent and accessible path is land cost and taxes. Which implies that governments have to shrink drastically (the Fed keeping land costs elevated through monetary manipulation). Don Stewart

Don Stewart

Example of Adjacent and Accesible. Dr. Michael Greger has written a tome on How Not To Diet. The default diet for Americans is an energy dense as possible consumed in the least time possible. Given our food technology, the plan leads to obesity and disease. Hunter-gatherers, in contrast, didn't have to think about it to do it. Greger presents the evidence teased out by years of science that at least some humans have the ability to function in the modern world by eating less calorie dense food over a longer time period. The poster child would be a big salad which requires lots of opposed to a meal at McDonalds. It is easy for me to elect to eat such a meal when I go to my food co-op and see a large selection of the requisite food present on the salad bar and the hot bar. Which highlights the importance of just can't do that at McDonalds.

Don Stewart

Bruce Perry

"Labouvie-Vief ... suggested that in middle and late adulthood some adults progress beyond formal operations and dialectical thinking the stage of autonomous thought. They can recognize that the thinker participates in creating the truth by understanding the influence of social and personal motivations, thus distinguishing personal and universal reality. Labouvie-Vief described how older adults use a qualitatively different mode of thinking, one which, for instance, considers factors other than the information given to solve a particular problem.
The intellectual behavior of older adults has been described by Edelstein and Noam ... as a reunion of logic and affect. This is a prerequisite the emergence of wisdom, that phase-specific mid-and-late-life capacity to understand the long-term consequence of action and to mediate between the demands of logic and emotion.
For some individuals who remain physically and emotionally intact, late-late adulthood are the phases in which the most sophisticated and complex forms of human thought emerge. Allan Chinen ... suggested that this late-life potential is expressed in the ability to experience different modes of logic. Whereas the thinking of midlife is relative and continual, the preoccupation of old age is with universal aspects of truth, including a sense of the infinite and an ability to appreciate the completeness and necessity of individual lives."

_Child and Adult Development_ by Calvin A. Colarusso, location 3588 in Kindle Edition.

Matt Holbert

I edited and published a book in 2009 that probably represents where we are headed. The link to a pdf is here:

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