This is Izzy Petersen's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Izzy Petersen's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Izzy Petersen
Recent Activity
I think applying the idea of the rigidity trap to humans and their social lives is an interesting take. As humans, I think we have some natural adaptability but also learn how to adapt through different experiences and role models. The same could be said of ecological systems like wildland fires. For example, a majority of wildlands have natural adaptability when it comes to fires - think about the seeds that release only under the high levels of heat provided by fires. It was then through our interference that they became rigid - we put our pressures and values on the land. I've just convinced myself that rigidity is a human element of systems. We are the ones that look to keep things stable because then it is easy for us to predict.
I definitely think that people should "learn how to help themselves and become self-sufficient" as you stated. I think that it's hard to do that when you're worrying about feeding your family or providing shelter. In cases like these it is often the immediate needs that need to be addressed before people can even think about going one step beyond and becoming "self-sufficient." I wonder if the welfare program would be more beneficial if it also supported people's efforts to make sustainable changes in their lives while providing short-term assistance for basic needs. I imagine this would be more expensive especially at the onset, but I wonder if it would reduce the number of people returning to or remaining on welfare in the long run.
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2017 on Applied systems thinking at The Sustainable Six
Your last comment about the social sciences being under appreciated has actually come up frequently in my meeting with potential capstone partners. When asked for what skills are necessary to complete the project, often times relationship building or talking to people is listed as an asset. Understanding relationships and how people interact with each other is imperative to making change. We often think that presenting facts and data will be enough to change minds and create policy aimed toward creating a sustainable, resilient future. However as we have seen happen in our recent political landscape, facts and data don't move people toward action. It's knowing how to navigate the complex relationships between people, governments, and organizations that will start movement toward change. As one of the few people in the program with a degree in the social sciences rather than environmental science, I hope that this becomes a more leverage-able skill.
It's interesting to think about the recent hurricanes and the resulting destruction/rebuilding with the PPD in mind. The example of Houston, Texas does seem to show that there has been some efforts to make the city itself more resilient, but I wonder how much of that is an effect of the PPD and how much of it is an effect of local initiatives. I imagine that the two are not mutually exclusive and the PPD could influence local initiatives, but then why didn't the PPD do the same for Puerto Rico after its hurricane disaster? Is the difference in resilient action due to lack of the four components or lack of support from the federal government? Also, I definitely had the same thoughts about natural disasters as I was reading the PPD. It seems that the language implies that it is looking to make infrastructure resilient to outside attacks. This is seen even in the mentions of federal organizations involved in the PPD. However, there is clarification at the end of the document of what they consider "threats" to be, and it does include natural disasters and extreme weather events there.
Your last two questions remind me of the TED video we just watched in Leadership today. I think environmental leaders are expected to take the more "noble" approach to system change. The idea that the work we will be doing is in the benefit of the entire world. That's why many of us are in this program - we want to make a positive difference for the environment and for future generations. But I think there is an element of truth in the idea that the "noble" approach can be inherently less successful/effective. I mean part of the reason why the environment is in trouble today is because in striving to make the biggest profits leaders didn't think about the impact their actions and those of their organizations would have on the world around them. That framework is directly opposite of systems thinking - ignoring connections instead of trying to uncover them. Systems thinking takes much more work to be effective.
I think the third trend you pulled out (vision for the future) is extremely important for sustainability and wicked problems. As I mentioned in my post, it's going to be impossible to create systems that will return us to what once was in terms of our resources and state of the environment. But if we create a vision of what we imagine a future that is sustainable for everyone (like creating businesses that have sustainability as a main focus) we can take actions that will make that a reality. However, I think creating that vision is the most difficult part of the process. With the breadth of stakeholders involved (from corporations working for their investors to individuals exercising purchasing power to the resources themselves) there are going to have to be compromises across the board which many are not willing to accept. Maybe that's where the power of individual businesses making an identify for themselves and their buyers comes in?
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2017 on Sustainable business trends at The Sustainable Six
I agree with your characterization of Sall as an individual working for greater good by doing his best to ensure that the fish stocks remain healthy. However, I don't think that his actions and strict enforcement of the rules is going to have a lasting effect on the Senegalese fish stocks, especially because even he understands why locals are upset with him. With the problem stretching across continents and language barriers, I don't think (or at least can't imagine how) overfishing will be solved through a change in community based norms when one of the major players has a larger investment in a different community. In this case, I think it is even more difficult to create a space for the different groups to come together to talk, agree, and uphold as there is generally little physical interaction preventing groups from becoming known to each other and there are even groups who are fishing the oceans illegally and are likely to be unwilling to come to the table.
The idea of community within a globalized society is interesting. I think globalization has allowed us to form communities in different ways but has also changed the way community is defined. I'd argue that through social media we can remain connected with our old communities despite moving hundreds+ miles away. However, i think this also contributes to the loneliness factor you mentioned above. When you are removed from your community but you continue to see what goes on every day, you get that feeling of loneliness. But then because the communities are more widespread, the community scales become larger and maybe more easily tipped. However, social media doesn't just enlarge the community scale but the higher scales as well. So I wonder if it takes more action, more voices, and more communities in order to create that revolt. Then I think we also get stuck with that idea of mobilization. Often times when people post on social media, they get that feeling of accomplishment without having taken any real action. So communities using social media have to find a way to use social media to enlarge their community but combat the complacency that can occur by simply liking a post.
We see examples similar to your rainforest vs developer often. In order for people to cut corners and avoid paying greater expenses (or losing a greater amount of money), they pay a fine that is small compared to the pay off that whatever actions that caused them to get that fine will reward them. We see it all the time in the education field. Classrooms get overfilled because it's cheaper to pay the fine associated with larger classroom sizes than it is to hire another teacher. So in answer to your last question, I think that as long as we work within systems that seek to use "nature" as "natural resources" for humans to make a profit from, there will be people working to cut those corners no mater the cost to the natural environment. The only way I can imagine that system ending is for a large scale societal value shift.
I think if we are going to address overpopulation, we have to take accessibility of health care and knowledge and religious practices into consideration. Across the world, there are large populations that have access to family planning care and information like birth control and sexual education but choose not to use it due to religious beliefs. Then there are also areas of the world where that care and information is denied due to religious beliefs. And then we also have communities that have no access to birth control or sexual education at all. If we are going to use systems to decrease overpopulation, we are going to need massive social change across the world. Then you have to throw in the ethical questions of which populations get "controlled." If our world leaders can't get on the same page regarding issues like climate change, I can't imagine them coming together over issues regarding population control.
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2017 on Resilience and Overpopulation at The Sustainable Six
The relationship between conservation of mass/energy and systems sustainability. I like it. I see this concept coming into play with the reinforcing system where more begets more. If you think about the system as just a theory, it could go on forever. The stock becoming larger and larger. But because no system exists in isolation, the stock (mass/energy) that provides the reinforcing system with the capacity to continue increasing will become depleted, ending the system. So in order for systems to continue there has to be an exchange of mass/energy with other systems. Then to use your squirrel example, the idea of one system ending and immediately becoming part of a different system, really highlights the fact that systems are linked. The death of the squirrel system provides stock (mass/energy) for the forest floor food-web system to continue. That food-web system then provides the mass/energy for other living organisms to survive. The Circle of Life is a system! How did you view the relationship between the law of conservation of mass/energy and system sustainability?
Izzy Petersen is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 8, 2017