Category Archives: Systems theory

Sustainability requires thinking in circles…

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Kloven, Leah. “Library Compost.” 2016. PNG file “Ultimately sustainability requires thinking in circles” (Litfin). LCA life cycle, systems theory and cradle to cradle analysis are all ways of looking at the full picture which is absolutely essential to addressing issues and progress. Today we operate largely through a process of linear systems, this is resource extraction, use, and waste. Our… Read more »

Water is the new Oil

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Water is the new oil…meaning that moving forward conflicts over resources will concern water.  The finite amount of water, growing world population and continued climate change will force us to make some tough decisions in the near future.  One of these tough decisions involves poppy farmers in Afghanistan.  It is easy and not necessarily wrong to conclude that growing poppy… Read more »

Fertilizer and the Future

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(source: The reality of fertilizer is that while it supports our food systems in the world, it can contribute even more to the pollution. The byproduct and the production itself of fertilizer contribute much to the carbon foot print of the world. The ecological condition that exists involves the climate impact of food and the overall function of the… Read more »

Is Guatemala stuck in poverty?

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Guatemalans’ inability to break out of poverty is a direct relationship to the late 20th century global food and fuel price shocks that targeted the cost of imports that developing countries couldn’t keep up with (Clapp, 64). After the inflation of interest rates and import taxes on fuels in the 1970’s, the IMF and World Bank sought a remedy to… Read more »

Illustrating Systems in Motion

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In contemplating living systems, it’s difficult to imagine that so many “dead” systems form relationships with human bodies that can bring such differences in how lives unfold. Humanity brings to life systems that are otherwise inert. It is easier for me to imagine how living systems theory works in an interactive way between organisms and the environment when I imagine… Read more »

Apolitical Approach, Political Consequences

Human thinking tends to adhere to a default framework of linear causality and predictable outcomes, often at the expense of insight and resilience. Similarly, human-created systems are often constructed according to linear thinking and a centralized structure model. In practice, both natural and human-made systems often present complexity in the form of nonlinearity that cannot be predicted or accounted for… Read more »

Evolving on Earth

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The power of food is such that it can shape the surface of earth and reroute human history. The industrialization of the food system introduced the idea that food could be engineered, as well as grown. Through the addition of supplements and rapid genetic manipulation, what Carolan[i] calls the Green Revolution, we are beginning to see malnutrition brought about by… Read more »

Detrimental Side to The Industrialization of Labor

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. Results from Surveys of Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers. Nationwide Surveys Reveal Disconnect Between Americans and Their Food., 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 6 July 2017.   As we look at the changes due to the specialization of labor in the industrial food change there are many notable benefits. After all, because of the specialization of labor we… Read more »

Pondering Broken Systems

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Paper or Plastic

The unsustainable course of human evolution over the past century and a half has been driven on by an overarching, undeniable domination of market mentality that pervades all areas of life, including the stuff of our very sustenance: food. The expectation, or even faith, that a market can regulate itself, correct itself, and provide its own checks and balances is… Read more »

What is the Real Cost of Our Food?

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What is the real cost of our food?  After reading Michael Carolan’s The Real Cost of Cheap Food, I realized there are many hidden costs to the food choices that we make.  In Carolan’s book, he outlines the complex commodity chains that our food products undergo on their way to our kitchen tables.  At first, we may see this commodity… Read more »