For those who have been following the line of thinking about the potential collapse of civilization, starting with The Limits to Growth (1972) and including Jared Diamond's Collapse and Thomas Homer-Dixon's The Upside of Down (see Dahl 2008), there is an interesting new approach from a mathematical modeler.
A question many of us are struggling with is whether, with the seeming inevitability of possibly catastrophic climate change, we can still have hope for the future.
I have just posted the following contribution to the UN World We Want 2015 web site (http://www.worldwewant2015.org) on the topic: Framing Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Agenda. They asked two questions:
What are the barriers and enablers to gradually moving towards environmental sustainability?
Fragmented institutions and short-term perspective
Bankrupting Nature: Denying our planetary boundaries. A report to the Club of Rome. Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockström. London: Earthscan from Routledge, 2012. 206 p.
I was recently asked about the relationship between climate change and highly political issues around fossil fuels and energy independence. This raises an important issue about the linkages between all the different processes that make up our economy and human-planetary system, none of which can be resolved in isolation. Can we treat the scientific parts of the problem separately from the economic and political parts? How far can participation in dialogue go before it becomes too political and divisive?
User accounts have been created on this web site for all IEF associates for whom we have working email addresses. Please log on with the temporary password sent to you, and choose your own password. You can also add information about yourself to your user file, and even add a photo. If you are an associate and have not received a temporary password (or have lost your password), please write firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIO+20 started and we are all participating in many different events, dialogues and discussions!
IEF president Arthur Dahl gave a talk on one of the side events organized by the Earth Charter "Exploring synergies between faith values and education for sustainable development"
EXCELLENCE AND HOLISTIC THINKING
Arthur Lyon Dahl
(Presentation at the EBBF Make It Meaningful event "Redefining Excellence" - Selsdon Park, London, UK - 13 May 2012)
See also http://ebbf.org/blog/arthur-dahl-excellence-from-holistic-and-systemic-thinking/
Our scientific and technological civilization has flourished by encouraging increasing specialization. The universal man (think Leonardo da Vinci) has not existed since the renaissance. With the rapid multiplication of knowledge and the techniques for storing and transmitting it, the human capacity to absorb and use knowledge is rapidly saturated, so we end up by knowing more and more about less and less, compensating our increasing specialization with a division of labour among more and more specialists, with managers ensuring (hopefully) that everything fits together. This is accompanied by a reductionist approach that assumes that if you know each part, you also know the whole. While this may be true of machines, more complex systems like computer programmes, ecosystems and people show emergent properties that cannot be predicted simply from a knowledge of the component parts.