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I am not "officially" an ecologist, but have worked with ecologists for a large portion of my career as a scientist.  My contibution to the projects was usually the computer models of large ecosystems, but I also worked on the theory behind those models.  Right now I am reviewing a book by Dorion Sagan for Chelsea Green Publishing (the politics and practice of sustainable living) entitled: Notes from the Holocene{A Brief History of the Future}.  I was contacted by them after someone on their staff read my diary Who cares about rain forests?  right here on Daily Kos!  I will not be citing lots of statistics about the demise of the planet and most things on it, but rather I'll try to go to the root problem in the center of the collective consiousness that has led us to where we are.  Come along and see if my presentation can really say something new about this much discussed topic.

I have gotten to page 113 of 203 and I have to start putting my thoughts into written form before I go on.  The book will take a number of diaries to cover and I have skimmed ahead so I have a good idea where the author is going.  Right now thoughts are burning in my mind and I have to write this.  

Let's start with background.  Even that is not easy because I coukld easily fill the diary with just that.  First, who is this person who would dare to write such a book named Dorion Sagan? He is the son of astronomer Carl Sagan and biologist Lynn Margulis and the publisher tells us:

Writer, editor, and sleight-of-hand artist Dorion Sagan’s articles have appeared in Wired, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Natural History, The Sciences, Pabular, Cabinet, and other magazines. His books include What is Life, Origins of Sex, and Into the Cool.  

Since Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life by Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan is a book that I had a lot to do with, let me digress to tell you why and how it enhances my credentials for the story I will be telling you in this and subsequent diaries.  Into the Cool was inspired by a paper that Eric wrote along with James Kay :"Life as a Manifestation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics" which was published in a special volume of Mathematical and Computer Modeling entitled Modeling Complex Biological Systems that I co-edited in 1994.  The publisher of Into the Cool, The University of Chicago press, has this to tell us about Schneider:

Eric D. Schneider
is an interdisciplinary scientist whose thirty-year research program has been a synthesis of physics and biology at a most fundamental level. Specifically he studies the intersection of energy flow and thermodynamics with life. What he has found is that life is one of a continuum of processes that produce order from disorder. Highly organized nonliving physical and chemical systems are ordered by energy and chemical gradients. Life like these inanimate systems import high quality energy and give off low grade energy and are able to build structure, organization and biotic processes from this difference. The origin of life, the development of ecosystems, the direction seen in evolution and an insight into economic systems emerge from this paradigm. Among other things he has served as Senior Research Scientist; National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) where he coordinated high latitude global climate research.

 The coauthor of that 1994 paper, James Kay, was who really got me interested in a very new and exciting approach to ecosystems.  We met across the table from each other  at breakfast the first morning of a meeting entitled Ecosystem Theory for Biological Oceanography in 1984.  James was a very special person.  He died at a young age and we lost a great scientist and humanitarian.  Here is some more information at Wikipedia.

That necessary digression into the background of these ideas should be a clue that what we are about to talk about is not the run of the mill approach to the environment.  No, on the contrary, it is a revolutionary approach to the Earth as a system and it is part of a much broader revolution in science.  

What I want to focus on in this first installment is the very deep idea that the earth system, for lack of a better term, is alive and can be viewed, in fact, as a very interesting kind of organism.  Sagan's book is in large part devoted to convincing us of that.  In my case, he is preaching to the clergy, since I used the Metabolism and Repair Model published in the late 1950s by Robert Rosen to show that the Earth system was an organism many years ago.  If I were to worry about such things, I guess I should feel a little put out that Sagan never acknowledges this, but that is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that many of us have independently come to share the view that Sagan expounds on in his book.

I'll spend the final part of this diary outlining the reasons we can make such an assertion and also relating Sagan's metaphors and analogies between the Earth as organism and an organism such as you or I.  

In my work, the organism had to entail a number of important properties.  The key to Rosen's Metabolism/Repair model is the dichotomy between the organism and the Cartesian machine metaphor so popular among scientists today.  The mathematiical treatment involves Category Theory and is quite a formidable exercise.  The result of this ellegant mathematical exercise ius a total separation between the organism and the machine.  There is no overlap.  We use the causal entailment of the functions that go on in the organism to show that it is completely closed to efficient causation in distinction from a machine which is causally impoverished and requires outside agents to manufacture key elements of its being.

It is almost trivial to make the jump from this abstract model used to demonstrate an important philosophical point, to the observation that the Earth system is totally like the model in its containment of all the important causality within its own system.  Sagan goes an important distance further when he makes an analogy between the Earth system and our selves as living beings.  He demonstrates conclusively that we can apply a kind of Turing test to the notion that the earth system is an organism by comparing it with ourselves as organisms.  The result is startling.  

Organisms, in distinction from machines, are not built to last.  They, in fact, are constantly tearing themselves down in very well organized schemes in order that they may be constantly renewing themselves.  Machines break and/or wear out because we don't know how to prevent that from happening no matter how hard we try.  The organism's healing and growth are the product of their being in a constant cycle of tearing down in an orderly manner and then rebuilding.  It is an ongoing process.  The Earth system is now demonstrating its capability of exercising the same kind of metabolic restructuring that we have in our bodies.  The Earth system has been seriously assaulted by one of its most influencial parts, namely, humanity ans its creations.  The Earth system is now using the cyclic processes that it has as part of its metabolism to correct and/or adjust its physiology to what is taking place.  

It will be interesting to see what the earth system will come up with and how kind it's solution will be to us.  I will not live long enough to experience much of its response, but I can already see some of it.  I will continue this story in a future series of diaries after I see how well I have made myself understood and what needs to be clarified from this introduction.  Please ask hard questions and tell me what your views are.  This is a work in progress.

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 05:54 PM PDT.

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The Earth system

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64%24 votes
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Comment Preferences

  •  TIP JAR (15+ / 0-)

    rec this if you would like the additional installments

    An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 05:55:14 PM PDT

  •  These ideas are effecting many disciplines... (7+ / 0-)

    Even historians have begun re-writing history based upon our relationships with the environment.

    Exciting stuff.

    The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. --Thomas Paine

    by David Kroning on Fri May 09, 2008 at 05:58:26 PM PDT

  •  the earth (7+ / 0-)

    is already in the process of shaking us off like a bad case of lice. She moves slowly though, and due to our own shortsightedness, we won't see it till it's too late.

    The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

    by FireCrow on Fri May 09, 2008 at 06:02:44 PM PDT

  •  The Gaia hypothesis...now theory (5+ / 0-)

    as put evolved by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis (ex wife of Sagan and noted theroretical microbiologist) is that our planet and its creatures constitute a single self-regulating system... a living being as it were.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    James Lovelock's website: http://www.ecolo.org/...

    Elisabet Sahtouris took the Gaia theory and ran with it in her book, "EarthDance,Living Systems in Evolution".

  •  This is anthropomorphism at its most grandiose (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage
    Hidden by:
    don mikulecky

    And is totally contradicted by what we know about how complex systems function.

    The Earth is a system that, while it exhibits enormously complex behavior, is completely governed by a well-understood group of very simple rules. By this I mean simple in operation, not simple in results.

    The Gaian hypothesis is not only disprovable, it is unnecessary. There is no behavior of the Earth, or any of its living or non-living subsytems that cannot be adequately explained by the known laws of physics. Assuming, without evidence, that it is somehow alive does not provide any additional insight into how it works. So why bother?

    I say that it is disprovable in that, if it were true, the world would be very different from what we observe.

    You are simply substituting "Earth" for "God", and are therefore vulnerable to the same counterarguments.

    This idea was originally put forth as a thought experiment, with the hope that it might lead to a deeper understanding of the observable behavior of the system. The man who first proposed it never suggested that it was actually true, and has (IIRC) since regretted having ever said it, precisely because the idea is so intuitively appealing, and thus vulnerable to being taken far beyond anything it was intended to do.

    --Shannon

    •  a single cell ameba (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, don mikulecky

      operates by a few well understood simple rules too.

      The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

      by FireCrow on Fri May 09, 2008 at 06:42:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So does a rock. (0+ / 0-)

        Your point?

        --Shannon

        •  okee dokee (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don mikulecky

          The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

          by FireCrow on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:14:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If your question to me (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            linkage

            was serious, then my response is equally serious, albeit not seriously stated (by either of us, I think.)

            The rock and the amoeba both operate according to simple, comprehensible, physical laws. One is alive, one is not. You seem to imply some contradiction in that, which I do not see.

            Why must the rock (or the Earth, for that matter) be alive, simply because the amoeba is?

            --Shannon

            •  One is an organism the other is not but both (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              linkage

              Are complex systems and can only be partially described by physics.  there is much physics can say about them, but there is also much it can not.  Modern science has gone far beyond that kind of naiveity.  Here's the banner from our Virginia Commonwealth university Complex Systems Research group webpage

              The Mexican sierra [fish] has "XVII-15-IX" spines in the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted ... We could, if we wished, describe the sierra thus: "D. XVII-15-IX; A. II-15-IX," but we could see the fish alive and swimming, feel it plunge against the lines, drag it threshing over the rail, and even finally eat it. And there is no reason why either approach should be inaccurate. Spine-count description need not suffer because another approach is also used. Perhaps, out of the two approaches we thought there might emerge a picture more complete and even more accurate that either alone could produce.
              -- John Steinbeck, novelist, with Edward Ricketts, marine biologist (1941)

              An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:40:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Almost... (0+ / 0-)

                there is much physics can say about them, but there is also much it can not.

                This is true only if you add the proviso, "now", to both ends of the statement.

                There is nothing about either living or non-living systems that is, in principle, unknowable, beyond the limits of the uncertainty principle.

                "We do not understand X" is not the smae thing as "we cannot understand X."

                --Shannon

                •  Again you are dogmatic about your lack of (0+ / 0-)

                  knowledge.  it is an unfortunate attitude.  You have much to learn and trolling is not becoming to you.

                  This is true only if you add the proviso, "now", to both ends of the statement.

                  Is in fact a provably incorrect statement.  Again I offer you an extensive bibliography by well establihed scholars that makes your naiveity rather embarrasing.

                  An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:55:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  I think I know your thoughts wise one. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FireCrow, linkage

            These people have to be taught slowly and patiently, don't they?

            An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

            by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:29:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Tell that to a geologist. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage

          Rocks are very complex.  They are often used as examples of how naive we are about complex systems.

          An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:27:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Don't you wish. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage

        That's the kind of thinking that always gets us in trouble.  complexity can not be wished away. denial is never a solution.

        An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:26:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry but you are wrong big time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      is totally contradicted by what we know about how complex systems function

      I am writing about what we know from complex systems science.  That is my field and I have been at it since before it became popular.  You really have no right to make a dogmatic statement like you did when you seem totally ignorant of that very thing you speak about.

      As to anthropomorphic metaphors, they are merely metaphors to communicate.  The choice is a device to write a difficult and deep set of new ideas in a form that might help the reader get the idea quickly.  We are talking about an entire book here which you clearly have not read.  A little humility about your ignorance would be in order.

      An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:19:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If it is simply a rhetorical device, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage

        then I've got no problem with it, so long as that is clearly stated.

        But ultimately, the statement "the Earth is alive" is either true, or it is not. I am aware of no scientist in any relevant discipline (geology, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics or cosmology) who would say that it was true.

        Does Earth display some of the same behaviors of living systems? Of course it does. You'd expect that, given the enormous complexity of both living and some non-living systems. But it is not necessary (and isn't true) to postulate that Earth, and presumably all other planets, and on and on up the scale to the whole universe, are alive in the biological sense.

        And there are plenty of reasons to say that we know that it isn't.

        To use a trivial example, how does Earth reproduce? Reproduction is a fundamental behavior of life forms. Perhaps the fundamental behavior. So much so that the ambiguity of viral reproduction, the fact that they can't chemically do it on their own, is the basic reason why we cannot definitively say that viruses are alive.

        Planets do not reproduce, unless you want to extend the definition of "reproduction" across tens of billions of years, through the full sequence of stellar "evolution", so that you're saying that supernovas leaving nebulae, in which new stars form, leading to the formation of planets, some of which will have life on them, thus leading to the kinds of complicated dynamics that are then used to call them "alive," is "reproduction" for planets. Besides being an obviously circular argument, it stretches the definition of "reproduction" so far as to render it meaningless.

        To use Dawkins' metaphor (somewhat out of context), it isn't necessary for me to have made an exhaustive study of leprechaunology to say categorically that there are no leprechauns.

        --Shannon

        •  Dawkins is an incurable reductionist/mechanist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage

          We seldom agree on anything new in science.  It is much more than a rhetorical device.  I have an extensive biblioography for you if you are truly interested in understanding these aspects of modern science.  You must realize that we have had institutions like the Santa Fe Institute and the New England Complex System Institute (which includes Harvard and MIT) for quite some time now.  I lectured for three hours at the first meeting of NECSI.  We are not talking about "iffy" stuff here.

          You are having a common problem with language here.  new ideas are difficult because we handicapped by language. We are forced to use words that have old meanings to get at ideas that they were never meant to describe.  That is why metaphor is so key a tool.  George Lakoff has a number of books on this.

          An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:51:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I understand the power of metaphors... (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:
            don mikulecky

            I can read.

            But are you actually suggesting that the Earth is alive? Because I've seen no evidence at all to support that idea.

            If you're saying that considering the behavior of the Earth system as if it were alive, in the hope that this will lead to some new knowledge about how it works, then we have no disagreement at all. But this would be true regardless of whether the underlying assumption was correct.

            Darwin got the underlying mechanism of change in organisms completely wrong. But upon that incorrect assumption was built one of the two or three most important ideas in human history, that of evolution by natural selection... the only way we've ever figured out to get complexity out of simplicity, and the idea that makes the idea of a "creator" unnecessary.

            And there's nothing at all wrong with reductionism. In fact, it's one of the most illuminating ideas we've ever come up with.

            -Shannon

            •  The correct statement is that Earth has (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              linkage

              the same attributes that any organism has.  If you were up on complexity theory you would know that the question: "What is Life?" asked by Schroedinger is a poorly posed scientific question.  that is why Robert Rosen recast it in a well posed scientific form: "What is the difference between an organism and a machine?"  That led to a criterea that is well documented.  There is no ambiguity here.  it is one of the best pieces of scientific reasoning ever done.  Your carping about words misses the whole point.  I think that is your design.  You are behaving like a troll here and your attitude is akin to many republican know nothings.  Are you really here as a troll?

              An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 08:10:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  What is wrong with reductionism is when (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              linkage

              people move from using it as a methodology, where it works well in a limited context, to a philosophy where it fails very badly.

              The whole is indeed more than and different from a mere sum of its parts.  Thus something real about a system is destroyed by reducing it to parts.  That something has an ontology equal to that of parts.  This clearly shows that there is more to reality than what can be found when material things are broken down to their constituent atoms and molecules.

              An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 09:46:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Given your (0+ / 0-)

                troll-rating fest of last night, and the fact that your diary has fallen off the list, I probably shouldn't bother, but since this is the most respectful answer you've yet made to me, I'll try to respond.

                Reductionism isn't a philosophy, any more than holism is. Both are simply ways of looking at systems. Each can be used where it is appropriate, and not used where it makes no sense.

                To apply a reductionist analysis to the beauty of Beethoven's 9th Symphony would be not only stupid, but totally unilluminating. The physics of vibrating objects  can completely describe everything that happens when an orchestra plays the music, but that has nothing to do with what happens inside the human mind after those vibrations strike our tympanic membranes. It's all true, but totally irrelevant to the question.

                Likewise, applying a holistic analysis to a bridge isn't useful. It stands or falls, with us on top, purely as a consequence of the properties of its parts, and the ways in which they interact.

                In a third case, like the problem of human consciousness, it's totally unclear which model to apply, in what proportions, and where they each fit. Clearly, the underlying "hardware" operates on the clearly defined, purely reductionist principles of chemistry and physics. It is just as obvious that the overall behavior of my mind/brain system is not deterministic, at least not in any way that we understand. Somewhere in the scaling up from neurons and ganglia to "I", a discontinuity is reached. Where and how that happens will be, in my view, the most significant discovery in the history of humankind.

                I think that it's a problem that can be solved. It seems that you do not. Both of us will be dead long before either of us is proved right.

                --Shannon

                •  You keep missing the point (0+ / 0-)

                  Reductionism isn't a philosophy, any more than holism is.

                   I guess you never heard of Descartes?  His machine metaphor turned a method into a philosophy and we have been suffering for that all this time.  His dualism denies the embodiment of the human mind that George Lakoff establishes so well in The Embodied Mind  As a neurophysiologist I find the rest of your post naive and almost childish.  I suggest that you do some studying on subjects you hope to pontificate about.  You don't know philosophy when you parrot it blindly and your understanding of the workings of the human mind is clearly deficient.

                  An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

                  by don mikulecky on Sat May 10, 2008 at 05:42:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Mules and lots of hybrid plants don't (0+ / 0-)

          reproduce either.  Keep trying and keep failing.  You are really out of your element here.

          An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 09:40:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The most anthropomorphic thing of all... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, don mikulecky

        ... is assuming that the way people look at the world is the only way to look at the world...

    •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      The Earth is a system that, while it exhibits enormously complex behavior, is completely governed by a well-understood group of very simple rules. By this I mean simple in operation, not simple in results.

      The same can be said about any organism, from a virus right up to a human. We've even unlocked the bluepring.

      The Gaian hypothesis is not only disprovable, it is unnecessary. There is no behavior of the Earth, or any of its living ornon-living subsytems that cannot be adequately explained by the known laws of physics. Assuming, without evidence, that it is somehow alive does not provide any additional insight into how it works. So why bother?

      Ah, that is a deeper question.

      For me, it has a lot to do with attitude. It's easy to butcher a cow when you think of it as "just a thing." When you look at the world as "just a bunch of rocks and gasses," you think of it in a different way then if you think of it as a sort of living being.

      I say that it is disprovable in that, if it were true, the world would be very different from what we observe.

      And I say that, along the lines of my previous paragraph, when you're not looking, there's a host of things that you simply don't see. We all have our individual sets of blinders and filters. Gaia is about changing them.

      For instance, we all knew that chimps couldn't do language. So nobody bothered. Until somebody tried. And now we know differently.

      You are simply substituting "Earth" for "God", and are therefore vulnerable to the same counterarguments.

      This isn't about faith... it's about worldview.

      This idea was originally put forth as a thought experiment, with the hope that it might lead to a deeper understanding of the observable behavior of the system. The man who first proposed it never suggested that it was actually true, and has (IIRC) since regretted having ever said it, precisely because the idea is so intuitively appealing, and thus vulnerable to being taken far beyond anything it was intended to do.

      If it gets people to treat the planet better, leading to a better life for all of us, what does it matter whether it's analyzably "true" or not?

      •  Here we get to the heart of the matter... (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        don mikulecky

        If it gets people to treat the planet better, leading to a better life for all of us, what does it matter whether it's analyzably "true" or not?

        Because I think that truth (without quotation marks) matters.

        This is the point I was trying to make when I said that the desirability of an idea being true has no bearing at all on whether it actually is true. I will add that the outcome of people believing it is true also has no influence on its truth.

        I also think that there are plenty of arguments that will also lead to the goal you have stated, (which I agree with,) which have the added benefit of being true. We should use them, if for no other reason than, if your motivating argument can be shown to be false, it is much easier for people to reject whatever you were trying to motivate them to do.

        --Shannon

        •  You are trolling this diary. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage

          I ask you to read my comments to you about your lack of understanding.  If you persist in making trollish dogmatic statements I'll be forced to drop some hide ratings on you.

          I have patiently tried to supply you with ways of learning about your archaic view of modern science.  My pateince is about used up.

          An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:59:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hide away. (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:
            don mikulecky

            I can take it.

            --Shannon

            •  The observations, by Lovelock and Dr. Peter (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              don mikulecky

              Russell (The Global Brain) evoke wonder, possibility and yes, hope.

              Not to get into any details about what kind of organism the earth is, but let us just say it is a "cosmic" organism...
              I'm sure you know the story of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant with each touching a different part and the flea, wondering, "if this thing could be alive?"

              You really answered yourself earlier when you mentioned the truism: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

              We can't know... unless we try to know... but we certainly won't know if we never look.

              "A lie repeated, may be accepted as fact, but the truth repeated becomes self evident." -Elonifer Skyhawk

              by Fireshadow on Sat May 10, 2008 at 04:02:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  very interesting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, linkage, don mikulecky

    It makes a lot of sense to me. Sometimes I wonder if things like cyclones/hurricanes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, etc., aren't some form of allergic reaction by this planet to what we're doing to it. I have a feeling we're in for an even bumpier ride the next several years.
    I enjoyed the diary a lot. Keep them coming!

    "Never, never, NEVER give up!" --Winston Churchill

    by rioduran on Fri May 09, 2008 at 06:27:12 PM PDT

    •  Tornados and hurricanes are part (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rioduran, linkage

      of the complex system's self organization to diminish gradients of energy that build up.  Sagan says much about it and Into the Cool discusses it in detail.

      I agree about the coming "bumpy ride"  Those gradients are getting more severe and will need to be discharged more frequently and more violently.

      An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:23:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  native american beliefs (4+ / 0-)

    we believe in Mother Earth being, along with the Sun, the parent of all lifewithin her circle. The imposition of Christianity and belief in heaven hid that knowledge. It's good to see some scientists coming to the same conclusion.

    •  Not if it isn't true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      The desirability of something has no influence on it's truth value.

      --Shannon

    •  Yes, I have had the Native Americans in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      center of my thoughts on this.  I have diaried on their great influence in the past and will come back to it in future diaries.  Western man has had to come to the truth the Native Americans knew for centuries the hard way.  Science and Western Christianity both have stood in the way.  But the Earth will prevail.  Here is an earlier diary where I used the book God is Red to approach it from the religious aspect. There are many religions being ignored I realize that in Native American culture religion is not compartmentalized from the rest of life as it is in Western culture.

      An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:11:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I happen to live in a tribal college community (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, don mikulecky
        Looking out from this place I see that there is a tendency among people trained in academic settings to see things in a way that denies that there could be any life beyond that which already has been measured and recorded by "the scientific tradition."

        It could be a function of language.  We think by words we know.  So it could be that what you are doing is finding a vocabulary that makes a somewhat different conversation possible.  If you have read Vine DeLoria, you have some sense of there being world views that used to be considered irreconcilable, but which might really be not so far apart after all.  

        The reasons that the European culture moved in and just plowed over the civilization they encountered all boil down to religion being used as a weapon of mass destruction at the service of profit on an ever larger scale.  

        If we throw off the veil of confusion caused by the Inquisition (an ironic name if there ever was one) and look at what is really there, we have a renewed appreciation for indigenous observation.  They were being real.  

        Europeans roasted medicine men over fires to torture them because they were interested in promoting the idea that there was only value in their own preconceived ways of thinking.  It was incredibly ignorant.

        The next question in the proposition here is that if you accept that the earth's complex systems can heal themselves the way our bodies do, then would you go further and postulate intention?  I would think you probably wouldn't go that far, since that is probably not a testable hypothesis.  One would have to either believe, dogmatically, that there is no such thing or that there is, but it would be beyond observation either way.

        •  Sagan definitely sees intention there (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage

          I have only written about a small part of his ideas because I anticipated antipathy of the sort the troll exhibited.  It will not be easy to comminicate this in English.  Perhaps another language has words and phrases for the concepts.  I can only try to communicate.  It has taken me 72 years to travel this short distance.  I once saw everything in machine like dead terms.  I had to slowly exhaust the most powerful tools of Western science one by one before I became open to another way of thinking.  

          I know we can not reverse the damage done by Western blindness.  I only hope we can go forward together.  I see that going forward as part of the Earth system's way of healing.  We may be given another chance, I don't know.  I wish we could learn what you know.  We are far beyond the limits of testable hypotheses in complexity science.  It is dangerous ground for Western thinkers to leave the "safety" of testible models that are so sterile. If we are not willing to risk that we are lost.  I can only follow where my investigations have led me.  Fortunately, there is a growing awareness of these things among established, well respected scientists.  Sagan is an interesting messenger.  He was parented by a biologist and a physicist, both among the leaders in their fields.  He also practices the Western form of magic.  We need some more potent magic right now.  Thank you for speaking about these matters.  I would like to hear much more if you are willing.

          An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 09:11:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You Don (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    I have followed many of the links you have provided to learn more about Robert Rosen work in life. However, unfortunately quite a bit is technical. For a lay person like me the world view model helps a lot.

    I'm looking forward to your next post.

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Fri May 09, 2008 at 08:50:04 PM PDT

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