Feb 14, 2009

A 'KISS' for valentines day!

KISS - Keep Is Simple Stupid Theory
The Complexity Theory... erosion of environmentalism
A discernible change is taking place in the forum of environmental awareness.
As the subject matures and our insights deepen, specific concerns are now accompanied by a general uneasiness as leading philosophers and scientists begin to examine the structure of our modern civilization and question its viability. One of these new avenues of consideration is Complexity Theory.
Complexity Theory argues that societies become progressively more unstable and vulnerable as the network of interconnections within them increases -- not particularly good news for a globalizing system in which increasing complexity is precisely the thrust of economics, finance, manufacturing, technology and almost everything else we do. The sobering implications may explain why many proponents of Complexity Theory preface their comments with an apology. "We don't want to tell you this," goes the essence of their message, "but we think you should know." When the New Scientist published two articles on Complexity Theory (Apr. 5/08), its editor anticipated some reader discomfort. "We are predisposed to pay attention to bad news," noted the editorial. "There is a good reason for this. We need to be warned of difficulty and danger so we can protect ourselves.... [But] if the warning is too scary or distressing, we attack the messenger as a doom monger."
Complexity Theory comes with its hint of doom, ominously reminding us that no civilization has ever survived the stresses of history,
The Collapse of Complex Societies, explains that "For the past 10,000 years, problem solving has produced increasing complexity in human societies" (Ibid.). Food production is a classical example. Each time people find the solution to a food shortage -- irrigation, fertilizer or plants with higher yields-- the population rises to meet the food supply and the next problem to solve is more complicated and challenging. Every solution adds extra levels of organization, complexity and interdependence, which adds inefficiency and diminishing returns for the total amount of energy expended.
Progress is a process of perpetual problem solving, with each new solution adding more specialists and more layers of peripheral tasks that don't directly address the problems being solved.
A civilization finally peaks at its maximum level of complexity when all its efforts are being used just to maintain its equilibrium.
Then an unusual adversity arises: invaders, crop failure, disease, climate change, depletion of a critical natural resource, or anything that stresses a structure already precariously balanced.
Then the civilization collapses and reorganizes itself at a simpler level.
Complexity Theory makes us more aware of our vulnerabilities. And it does argue for simplification and local self-sufficiency, particularly for essentials such as food supply and energy production. The incentive to begin thinking and acting with foresight should compensate for the need to be apologetic.