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SIG Session [clear filter]
Tuesday, August 4
 

16:00 CEST

Crisis Science for Sustainability

Sustainability science requires interdisciplinary and even trans-disciplinary frameworks for research in order to shift from disciplinary and sectorial studies to more appropriate ways of understanding whole system sustainability. While this shift is difficult to achieve within current traditions, an actual crisis seems to trigger many of the characteristics that would also be appropriate for holistic science. Disciplinary research tends to be the norm when we have a carefully planned research agenda and well-posed questions; but when we don’t know the questions, as is the case in a crisis, we instinctively invoke trans-disciplinary modes of learning. We may thus learn a great deal about system sustainability and system research by looking at the characteristics of ‘crisis science’. Here we review personal experience from scientific responses to oil spills in the 1970's.We suggest a general framework in terms of R-Theory (Kineman, 2012), which is a relational holon theory based on four archetypal domains corresponding to Aristotle’s general explanatory hierarchy and many other similar frameworks that have been developed separately in various disciplines and perennial philosophy. We propose general development of “Crisis Science” as a complex systems research field that has strong parallels with holistic paradigms many are struggling to establish in ecology and environmental management. Not only is there a strong theoretical affinity between these two domains, but by promoting Crisis Science publically and in mainstream programs, funding may be more easily obtained for critical integrated research that supports both purposes. As part of a Crisis Science research program it is necessary to train between crisis responses, and shared principles and methods are possible across many holistic problems we face otherwise in anticipation of possible crises. Pursued together, Crisis Science and Holistic Science can establish the Anticipatory capacity we need to avoid crises.

Keywords: crisis science, oil spills, action research, system sustainability, complexity, holistic thought. 


Speakers
JK

John Kineman

SIG Chair: Relational Science, International Society for the System Sciences
Senior Research Scientist, CIRES, University of Colorado Stellenbosch Research Fellow (2016), Stellenbosch South AfricaAdjunct Professor, Vignan University, Vadlamudi, IndiaPresident (2015-2016), International Society for the Systems Sciences ISSS SIG Chair: Relational ScienceDr... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:00 - 16:30 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:30 CEST

Anthropocene as Life's State of the Art in Disorder Production: A Sustainability Conundrum

This paper launches on the proposal by Eric D, Schneider and James J. Kay that life is a response to the thermodynamic imperative of dissipating gradients. Adding a twist to the claim of Jeffrey Wicken that “entropic dissipation propels evolutionary structuring,” Schneider and Kay contend that “evolving life represents order emerging from disorder in the service of causing even more disorder.” Drawing on Gregory Bateson’s definition of information, a self-organizing system can dissipate a gradient, a “difference that can make a difference,” more efficiently than helter-skelter falling apart. Examples range from transient physical systems (Bénard Cells, hurricanes, tornadoes) and chemical systems (BZ color flipping clocks) to evolving biological (bacteria, trees, ant colonies, coral reefs, brains), and, it is proposed, human/biotechnological systems (automobiles, coal fired power plants, smartphones, apps) passing the baton of Erwin Schrödinger’s “order from order” means for sustainably remembering and capitalizing on what works. The second law of thermodynamics driven trend of disorder to order to even more disorder continues ever more effectively as state of the art in disorder production in the Anthropocene as autocatalytic, “Matthew Effect,” gradient degrading, human impacts on the biosphere, aided and abetted by advancing technology. Human/biotechnological driven gradient dissolution manifests itself not only in the usual tragedy of the commons victims of industrialized human activity−the sixth extinction of species, the toxic smog in Beijing and New Delhi, the vanishing glaciers, the draining of fresh water aquifers…−it manifests itself in and is linked to us. Robert Rosen observed that a “material system [can] change its own behavior in response to a force, and…that same system can generate forces that change the behavior of other systems.” Under the impress of the escalating force of techno-dependency, our addictive drug, as a system, we, convenience driven, environmentally foggy, smartphone glued to hand, clueless without app, humans are changing our behavior in ways that change the behavior of other systems, biospheric systems not excluded, and, on balance, not for the better. A sustainable future for coupled human/biotechnological systems and the soaring gradient of advancing technology is an oxymoron. The accelerating technical order is producing a deepening skew, a crossing tipping point to out-of-control, global warming scale, disorder of orders. A case-in-point can be seen by extrapolating the increasing fragility of excessive interconnectivity, of climax ecosystems, as Robert Ulanowicz pointed out, to the increasing order of local and global interconnectivity rendering us, individually and collectively, increasingly vulnerable to looming, potentially catastrophic, collapse. What sustainability needs is the going forward stability of an order of orders. Viewing sustainability in the framework of flows and counterflows, excesses and deficits, concentrations and dissipations, of order as potent, transformable organized energy (exergy), a.k.a, power, this paper offers a possible handle on overcoming the formidable barriers to gaining and sustaining a sustainable future, ourselves hopefully included.

Keywords: Anthropocene, autocatalytic; convenience; dissipative structure; disorder; ecosystem; entropy; exergy; fractal; gradient; “Matthew Effect;” order; power law; relational self-similarity; Second Law of Thermodynamics; sustainability; technology 


Moderators
JK

John Kineman

SIG Chair: Relational Science, International Society for the System Sciences
Senior Research Scientist, CIRES, University of Colorado Stellenbosch Research Fellow (2016), Stellenbosch South AfricaAdjunct Professor, Vignan University, Vadlamudi, IndiaPresident (2015-2016), International Society for the Systems Sciences ISSS SIG Chair: Relational ScienceDr... Read More →

Speakers
JH

Jeffrey H. Robbins

Adjunct Professor, Rutgers University
ISSS RegularThe title of my paper is "Anthropocene as Life's State of the Art in Disorder Production: A Sustainability Conundrum". The paper extrapolates the claim of by Eric D, Schneider and James J. Kay that life is a response to the thermodynamic imperative of dissipating gradients... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:00 CEST

Redefining Scientific Objectivity

Since the time of Rene Descartes, the definition within science of what “Objectivity” means has been based on the perspective of a machine. In other words; mindless and lifeless. Since the entailment for any machine to come into being exists outside the machine itself,  it is no surprise that a science based on this kind of thinking has trouble with concepts like “health”. And yet, every living organism that exists has come into being with its own, internal value for what “health” means. That value is always based entirely on another internally derived value that each living organism also has: the definition for “self”. Whatever “self” is defined as being, that’s what “health” will be predicated on.  Therefore, “Health-Of-Self” is what metabolism and repair are constantly involved in maintaining. Metabolism and Repair are the two functional capacities, according to Robert Rosen, that are both necessary and sufficient for life.

Mainstream science has built itself around the paradigm of Physics, extending those concepts and premises into other disciplines with the understandable presumption that if everything in the material world is made up of the same building blocks, then all are related in various ways and the rules will cross the artificial boundaries created by human perception. Unfortunately, what seemed to be representative of “the rules” by which the material world works (when applying them to orbital phenomena and other aspects of non-living systems) turn out to be woefully inadequate-- to the point of being inappropriate-- when we try to extend them to most of the observable phenomena in biology. The notions of function and dysfunction, for example: In medical and veterinary science, we have to contend with the fact that “health” is the object of a practice that cannot even define the term, scientifically. That’s schizophrenic to say the least.  Given the circumstances,  medical science has chosen to mainly focus on defining disease and dysfunction, looking for ways to rectify both without having to address the messy reality that there is no way to understand what “health” is from the perspective of total scientific objectivity, as it currently stands.

Similarly; in the branches of science devoted to studying ecosystems and the biosphere, we find there are further impediments to true understanding caused by this machine-like mindset. Every single living organism has the same self-based perspective with all of its behavior going towards maintaining and enhancing health-of-self. That is an inherently non-objective point of view. How are we to understand what we observe of  living behavior, as well as all the interactions between individual organisms or groups of organisms, without taking such facts into account? And how shall we define “health” for ecosystems? Can an ecosystem actually be “unhealthy”? How and when? According to whose perspective? When we talk about predator/prey relationships being beneficial for ecosystems and even for populations of the prey species, how shall we describe the impact on the health of the individual who is eaten? What if the “predator” is a pathogen like the Ebola virus and the prey is humanity?

The trouble in this situation is that we end up violating critical principles of what science is for by trying to adhere to a standard of objectivity that needs to be amended. It  was generated while observing non-living, purely reactive systems. Applying a methodology designed for studying and describing orbital mechanics to living, Anticipatory Systems turns out to be counter-productive and yet what are the alternatives?
This paper will explore the process of considering what an alternative working definition for “scientific objectivity” should be: one that is not a source of unnecessary impediments to advancing the science of life and living, but still maintains the positive attributes of independence and verifiable knowledge that were intended with the development of the methodology of science as a system of inquiry in the first place. 


Moderators
JK

John Kineman

SIG Chair: Relational Science, International Society for the System Sciences
Senior Research Scientist, CIRES, University of Colorado Stellenbosch Research Fellow (2016), Stellenbosch South AfricaAdjunct Professor, Vignan University, Vadlamudi, IndiaPresident (2015-2016), International Society for the Systems Sciences ISSS SIG Chair: Relational ScienceDr... Read More →

ISSS Board & SIG Chairs
avatar for Judith Rosen

Judith Rosen

CEO, Rosen Enterprises
SIG Co-Chair: Relational ScienceJudith Rosen is a writer, researcher, and artist who, through interaction with her father, the mathematial biologist Robert Rosen, has a comprehensive understanding of his scientific work. She traveled on numerous scientific trips with Robert Rosen... Read More →

Tuesday August 4, 2015 17:00 - 17:30 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:30 CEST

Food Production through the Lens of Relational Theory: Tomato Variety 'Bocati' grown in Germany
Moderators
JK

John Kineman

SIG Chair: Relational Science, International Society for the System Sciences
Senior Research Scientist, CIRES, University of Colorado Stellenbosch Research Fellow (2016), Stellenbosch South AfricaAdjunct Professor, Vignan University, Vadlamudi, IndiaPresident (2015-2016), International Society for the Systems Sciences ISSS SIG Chair: Relational ScienceDr... Read More →

Speakers

Tuesday August 4, 2015 17:30 - 18:00 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany