plan. Or that the end is nigh and we're on the brink of collapse. We also have strong personal narratives - those we tell ourselves about our lives and identity - maybe that we're a failure and our lives have come to naught, or that we're special enough that the limits that apply to others don't apply to us, or that human beings are so fundamentally evil that anyone's bold, imaginative thinking about a positive future is childish and naive. These narratives are so omnipresent that we often barely notice them, or notice the fact that they're stories - stories that might be inaccurate, or incomplete, or subject to change - even though they can dictate major decisions like who to vote for, where to live, and what work to do. Stories influence the shape our lives take and the path by which society charts its way forward. The Power of Story is, in fact, something we underestimate at our peril. Rob Hopkins • FROM WHAT IF TO WHAT IS
g preoccupation into the realistic prospect of
a spontaneously coordinate planetary society." Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking
Synergetics is a product of Fuller's passionate concern with models. Concerned that society's ignorance of science is seriously destructive, he devoted years of thought to ways of alleviating this ignorance. In the 20th century, we suddenly find ourselves confronted with an "invisible" atomic reality in which the average person understands very little about how things work. Although confronted daily with "incredible technology", which to Fuller includes the natural phenomena of Universe as well as the ever-expanding inventory of human invention, the vast majority assume such phenomena to be out of their reach. Fuller attributes this widespread discomfort to both the "invisibility" of science and the devastatingly complicated mathematics without which, scientists claim, their findings cannot be described. The dangerous chasm between scientists and lay people, with the truth guarded by an elite few and the rest resigned to ignorance, thus seems inevitable.
The origin of this troubled state of affairs? An incorrect mathematical system! Long ago human beings surveyed this environment and, seeing a never-ending flat Earth, decided upon cubes and orthogonal planes as the appropriate measuring system. Today, says Fuller, we're still stuck with that uninformed early guess, and as a result, nature's behavior has seemed irrational, perverse, and difficult to describe because we're using the wrong kind of yardstick. With accurate models, he claims, this gap can be closed. The purpose of synergetics is to make the invisible events and transformations of Universe visible, through tangible models that elucidate the principles behind our energy-event Universe. Human beings will thereby be able to "coordinate their senses" with a new understanding of reality.
Synergetics is full of tantalizing models; the difficulty comes in assigning them to aspects of physical reality. However, a number of notable examples, in which a newly discovered scientific phenomenon is described by one of Fuller's previously developed models, suggest that there may be many more such successes to come. The immediate goal therefore is to unravel and study the geometric system [IT]self.
Edmondson, Amy C.. A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (Back-in-Action books) (pp. 17-18). EmergentWorld LLC. Kindle Edition.
predicament was this terrible! What a pit we are in!” My rather gleeful response was due to the fact that I happen to be in the midst of researching and writing a book exploring the evident fact that resource depletion, debt overhang, and climate change have brought about the end of world economic growth (as currently defined). When I drilled into Fleeing Vesuvius, I encountered a rich vein of thought very much attuned with my own, one that includes stimulating ideas and examples that were new and helpful to me.
While other readers may come to this book with backgrounds different from mine, I think they will nevertheless find just as much stimulation and help as I did.
The authors have applied themselves to an analysis of the most important and fateful economic transition in human history. They are among the People who are Paying Attention (PPA)—an almost completely unorganized demographic consisting of individuals who have the privilege to devote a substantial amount of time to following world political, economic, and environmental news, but who are not blinded by any fixed religious or political ideology.
PPA probably number globally no more than a few million, and (if I may speak for them) have generally come to the conclusion that the world is facing a triple crisis:
The depletion of important resources including fossil fuels and minerals;
The proliferation of environmental impacts, principally climate change arising from both the extraction and use of resources (including the burning of fossil fuels)—leading to snowballing costs from both these impacts themselves and from efforts to avert them; and
Financial disruptions due to the inability of our existing monetary, banking, and investment systems to adjust to both resource scarcity and soaring environmental costs—and their inability (in the context of a shrinking economy) to service the enormous piles of government and private debt that have been generated over the past couple of decades.
While these three crises are converging on us, our leaders remain obsessed with one thing, and one thing only: the maintenance of economic expansion. For a variety of reasons, growth has become essential to the political well-being of modern societies.
Yet our fixation on economic growth prevents our addressing any of the three crises: Governments refuse to curtail greenhouse gas emissions (and thus fossil fuel consumption) because doing so would reduce growth. They refuse to reduce their vulnerability to oil supply shocks because that would require them to proactively rein in oil use, thus threatening growth. And they refuse to explore fundamental changes to financial and monetary systems that would make their economies less susceptible to bubbles and crashes because…well, you can finish the sentence.