Thu, 18 November 2010
Dave Pollard, author of the How To Save The World blog, joins me in an episode dedicated to our Culture of Dependency and how our civilization has evolved into a highly complex system that lacks the resilience to handle the multiple crises that we now face.
This episode examines the structure of our complex society and how it has been a product of an era of abundant cheap energy (ie. petroleum oil). We also discuss overshoot and what that means to future societies. Along those same lines we talk about a transition to steady-state economics (while hashing out the probability of it ever being implemented).
A truly enjoyable guest and a great episode. Thank you all for listening. Towards the end of this podcast we talk about how the listening and reading community is as much a part of the New Revolution as the speakers and writers.
-Ol' Two Beers
Dave Pollards Book Finding the Sweet Spot
The Upside of Down by Thomas Homer-Dixon
Direct download: Episode_71_-_Dave_Pollard_on_Complexity_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:57 AM
Steve, thank you for providing that insight. There is no doubt in my mind that you are very good at what you do. On a daily basis you get a sobering look at people at their best and their worst. Now I see the genesis of the extraordinary insight you exhibit. Thanks for another great Two Beers conversation!
Bill, I am a funeral director and it puts me in situations of intense emotions, this may explain my fasination with these topics, it provides an outlet for alot of things. I am very aware of this fact. In my profession, our customers are torn from the 'growth based paradigm' briefly and are made aware of what is truly important to them. But for most people, this is only a brief side-excursion before once again joining back up again with the 'growth based paradigm'. I do it myself so I can't really judge. Steve
Steve, that was a fascinating interview. I may have to listen to it several more times. As I was out on my morning walk with the dogs I found myself grappling intellectually with a number of Dave's brilliant observations. I think if you look closely at Dave's thoughts, there are actually two things at play here. I accept first the major premise that complex systems become increasingly tangled until they fail. I offer our financial system as Exhibit "A", a sputtering behemoth now bleeding from self-inflicted innovations such as the dreaded credit default swap. I think that there is another factor at play here that Dave did touch on anecdotally. Working in symbiosis with the complexity of the macro system is the a corollary of the "simplicity" of the human being. I believe that there is great truth in the pejorative word, "Sheeple." Without prompting, the human being will, for example, sit on a couch and take easy calories in the form of sugary cereals rather than expend the energy to obtain more healthy foods. Accordingly, the simplicity of the human mind coaxes "John Doe" to crave the comforts and ease of complexity - it seduces him to "move along" and go with the flow, ignoring the logic that complexity must end. As long as the opiates of ease and comfort flow, the sheeple will crave the system and shun the knowledge of self-sufficiency. The Steve Pattersons and the Dave Pollards of this world will inevitably find themselves preaching to a select minority who see the systemic drug for what it is. As I make the above observation, I find myself needing to stop for just a moment and acknowledging with some humility that, despite the fact that I listen to the wisdom of "Two Beers" and his guests, I too often walk with the sheeple. I will often opt for the cheap calorie rather than expend the weekend energy of growing my own vegetables or going out of my way to shop at the farmers market. Accordingly Steve, you see that complexity and its comforts can even woo those with awareness. If the Sheeple vote what they perceive to be their interests, then complexity will not be derailed and the system will play itself out to its logical conclusion. I don't know what your profession is Steve but from your gentle mannerisms and the way that you process ideas, I don't think that it is a great leap of logic to assume that you work in a profession that places you in the midst of very smart people. I work in law enforcement. This gives me the ability to watch and observe the masses. I am constantly amazed at the psychology of the average human being and the choices that he makes. They want the opiate and the ease of complexity.
Steve, Thanks again for your efforts. If you have a chance to find someone who can explain the principals of complexity theory or chaos theory don't miss the opportunity. It is extremely powerful when understood practically. There is a reason why ancient people could predict the nature of our doom: Complex systems fail; it does not matter if you talk about it or not--complex systems will fail. The only question will be who will have enough understanding of Chaos Theory to survive. Happy Ark building