November 26, 2007

The complex panacea

How to "solve" environmental problems? The PNAS addresses this in a Going beyond panaceas special feature. Nine articles criticize all past attempts as simple panaceas and uniformly advocate a new panacea involving the serious study of complex, multivariable, nonlinear, cross-scale, and changing systems; systematic multiparty interaction; a fully communicative, deliberative, multilevel system; vertical and horizontal institutional interplay; a systematic methodology to combine large-scale, abstract, thematic knowledge and tacit, small-scale, fine-grained, experiential knowledge; monitoring indicators of episodic change on slow timescales; minimax regret decision making; combined multiagent and classifier systems simulations; and similar stuff. Most of the things these people say are as clear to me as this graph taken from the article by Anderies and others:

Why don't I understand all this, and why do I tend to identify with diagram A rather than B? Because I am simple, linear, biased, ignorant, myopic (diagnosed by an optometrist), autistic, single-scale, single-level, single-variable, single-agent, single-party, poor and not really handsome. Hmm.


  1. But Rod is a "B-type guy"! Be complex, put a feedback loop in your life!

  2. :D I think I will need much more than a simple feedback loop. I will need a full regime shift to an alternative stable state. ;)