Frank: Am I correct in thinking that your "... carefully balanced approach is the way to go" is VSM S5 talk?  Perhapos Luc may like to comment as I know he has a keen sense of analyzing dialogues via the VSM framework.

BTW: -- somewhat off the climate topic, but still on $2 buck shop policy issues, and hot air rising, ... this recent tango has reinforced my views held since 2007 that there was/is an emerging strategic, although unfortunately named, 'south-south' dynamic that will see significant geopolitical change (but not wars between USA & Japan!) in the near future: -- see "Luladinejad" at

[... and just ignore the begging at the door for $2.50 donations! ... ;-]


On Sat, Nov 28, 2009 at 8:28 PM, Frank Wood <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Ha ha, love the "marginal seat theory!" Where on earth did we get the idea that we humans are rational beings!

Yeh, we're extremely rational in the context of greed and power and the notion of power extends to the "I'm right and you're wrong" attitude. That is why your carefully balanced approach is the way to go.



On 28 Nov 2009, at 12:12, russell_c wrote:

Thanks Frank,

... and yes, there is that zeal is creeping in, and unfortunately, many opportunists can smell a "win" ... and that will surely attract the "lovers of winning" ... and so, off we go on another round of tail chasing. It's not that they are completely wrong, just not completely right, and the simplicity of over self confidence is always a concern. One step closer to blind fundamentalism?

Oh, and thanks for the agricultural angle. Guess what: not only is Australia not responsible for the coal based greenhouse gasses that China produces from burning the stuff we export to them; but also the farming lobby here has successfully managed to get exclusions from the emissions trading system being proposed! It is called "marginal seat theory" I think! (see:,23739,26350929-953,00.html )

Now we know there are a lot of sheep (and cattle) down here, and some even have learned to walk on two legs, and vote, but this type of partial partisan response will just distort the whole by over weighting the load on those other parts that cannot afford the right lobbyists.

You have nailed it here imo -- "... develop sustainable societies that effectively respond". Unfortunately, while economics theory and praxis cannot operate outside/beyond the "Growth" paradigm, we will just have to communicate in that weird language that growing small is not shrinking! Pulling out is not surrendering, stopping is not failing, etc...

Mind numbing! So, surely, one of the functions of groups like this is ensuring that we can see more clearly through what is happening and communicate with others as Margaret Mead implied:

I specifically want to consider the significance of the set of cross-disciplinary ideas which we first called 'feed-back' and then called 'teleological mechanisms' and then called 'cybernetics' -- a form of cross-disciplinary thought which made it possible for members of many disciplines to communicate with each other easily in a language which all could understand. (cited in )

Unfortunately reasonable climate science speculation (e.g. Lovelock et al) is being used for partisan corporate politics and unsustainable policy implementation! BAU I'm afraid.


p.s.  Oh, BTW, the other $2.50 cause is the 80% of CO2 human activity systems living on less than $2.50 per day! And as mobile phone penetration heads into the exponential in developing economies (e.g. see various World Bank reports) we will see more awareness of the differentials between rich and poor ... and we may start to hear echos of those famous 17th C French words "Let them eat cake!".

On Sat, Nov 28, 2009 at 7:19 PM, Frank Wood <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Great piece of writing Russell. The biting irony is that it is the environmentalists that are the reductionists with their $2.50 relay attitude. 

There are so many vested interests on both sides of the debate that any genuine enquiry into what should be done gets lost.

To add to the complexity, I saw part of a TV programme a few days ago (it was to do with Obama's carbon reduction campaign) which said that most of the "greenhouse gas" was caused by food production.

Here is an article that lends support to this assertion.

Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns

and another article on the proposed remedy.

'Burpless' Grass Cuts Methane Gas From Cattle, May Help Reduce Global Warming

but here again dear old complexity rears its head again. And of course there is the issue of gene modification. Oh dear.

We expect in our campaign to cut down CO2, that third world countries to cut down or cease logging. Of course these countries see through our hypocrisy. Consider that the UK used to be almost covered in forests and now....

I still think that we must develop sustainable societies that effectively respond to climate change (whether it be warming or cooling) and worry less about Gaia as that old girl is going to do her own sweet thing anyway. 


On 28 Nov 2009, at 00:55, russell_c wrote:

Hi Nick,

Re: $2.50 causes

Yes, I still don't know whether I fully 'get it' in respect to this example either. I came to a similar conclusion as yourself about the multiple causes -- with one additional aspect: it was also a comment about reductionist ways of thinking in respect to complex problems.

I think the author was pointing to the phenomena of a whole organisational system straining to get the simple answer as a cause. It (ie those in it) fears the looming circularity of deep systemic investigation.

The $2.50 climate change cause 'issue' is said to be CO2, or 'carbon', reflecting the escaping output sun rays/energy and thus bouncing them back to earth.

And of course, as in all these things, the underlying assumptions are not often questioned. We assume that this heating phenomena is not the Gaia system (of which we, by definition, must be a significant thinking part) working in its own time scale to extend our happy modern existence between the next pending 10,000 year interglacial cold cycle. 

One can take that 1974 Time article and replace a few key words and we have the same media-message being run today -- the sky will fall, the crops won't grow, the hens won't lay ... touching almost every deeply held often neurotic fear we have as a society, culture and empire. So how do we know the truth? We cannot, and so acting on the precautionary principle is the best defense. But again, what to do, or not do?

What I'm really pointing to is the same phenomena that says bin Laden caused the Twin Towers attack and not the red flag of US foreign policy etc. It is the cultural/systemic blindness to the bigger systemic picture.(*) I saw it as a comment on the way 'the system' works -- i.e. who are the 'they' that will find the cause? IMO, they are the believers in their own confidences -- whatever side they take in a situation of concern. As Frank said: we need more humility by scientists.

But the rush is on. And so now it is not science and its quest for truth and answers: it is politics and its power games. But what else can be done? Adaptation is the secondary theme in the climate change debate but it is not much focused on by the media. Why? Because it means operating system change (to use the computing analogy), not just program change. And can we trust systems programmers? Who are they working for? I think the elites are not yet certain of where they can stand safely in the wash up, and so things are more complex than they need to be.

Instead of CO2, why don't we start with population, blame the medical sciences for stopping malaria, polio, plague, etc without also implementing birth control and sustainable socio-economic reform? What about the other 'club of rome' that will not support birth control etc? We will willingly look at plant food (CO2) as the enemy, but not the local doctor who is working beyond his/her wellbeing limits, usually on a healthy state subsidy, to save CO2 producing humans (you & I) who should perhaps cease this function permanently. Where do we stop? A $2.50 cause is all we need to stop the process of systemic change occurring naturally. 

One opportunity all this offers is a wide window on science studies.


(*) BTW, on my way out the door yesterday (c.o.b. Friday) a young lady came running past straight from a 1-day management guru seminar by some professor x, and showed me a slide that said tomorrows leaders will need, guess what, yes, "systems thinking". Oh, dear, here we go again! I responded that it will drive them mad if they try, and that imo leadership is so 'yesterday', as is management -- and that we are entering a heroic stage. G-d help us!

On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 11:39 PM, Nick Green <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Thanks Russell.
Re your previous on the $2.50 relay.
Both Stafford and Gordon emphasised multiple causes. So why did the relay fail etc.  I have to say I didn't really "get it" at first because like any other operational Joe I would go to stores and replace the relay job done. But Pask and Beer wanted to look at how the relay was designed, managed etc I eventually concluded. One can be very thick sometimes.  Pask preferred "produces" rather than "causes". It's that circular causality problem again, Does the spark cause the explosion or the presence of petrol vapour. We know the product of spark, petrol vapour and oxygen is an explosion but there is no single cause. Connect a bulb to a battery. Go away. Come back, The bulb is out. Why? There's no way of telling until each component is tested in another trusted circular system: the bulb, the 4 connections, the 2 leads, the battery. All this means something for Climate change etc- not sure quite what-yet.

From: russell_c
Sent: Friday, November 27, 2009 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: The Next 100 Years (CSIRAC)

If anyone is interested in this CSIRO 'report card' released today (27th) then see: and

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 8:00 PM, russell_c <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I'm not sure this is on topic, but this CSIRAC story (below) came through today and caused me to reflect on a comment (by Staford I think?) that "they will find the cause" to a major US power outage (a $2.50 relay?).

Why are we blaming climate change causes on CO2 when the energy increases have a lot to do with the complexities related to power station upgrades needed for PC proliferation, building air-conditioning capacity increases, flat plasma screens and additional housing demand due to family break down etc.

In respect to heat and power production -- are there any estimates of the energy generation involved in the growth of ICT and Internet over the 60 years from when this machine came to be? (there is a picture with the story)

Is this technology phenomena equally the cause of climate change and can it be somehow statistically correlated to CO2 increases?


Australia's first 'iPod' marks 60th birthday

"The CSIRAC - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation Automatic Computer - is housed in the state's museum and has today been granted heritage listing as part of its birthday celebrations.

It is the first computer ever to be made in Australia; the fourth computer ever to be made in the world; and the only first generation computer that remains intact. . . ."


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