“Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. The systems thinking approach contrasts with traditional analysis, which studies systems by breaking them down into their separate elements. Systems thinking can be used in any area of research and has been applied to the study of medical, environmental, political, economic, human resources, and educational systems, among many others. According to systems thinking, system behavior results from the effects of reinforcing and balancing processes. A reinforcing process leads to the increase of some system component. If reinforcement is unchecked by a balancing process, it eventually leads to collapse. A balancing process is one that tends to maintain equilibrium in a particular system.” Tech/Target
There are many definitions of “Systems Thinking” and the subject can be so complex that many books are written on the subject and it is used in many different circumstances. The diagram shown is a depiction of how nature affects mental health. The lines show some positive and negative feedback loops (There are several important ones in climate change: if the Earth gets warmer more polar ice melts. This decreases the Earth’s albedo, adsorbing more infrared radiation and encouraging further warming. This can run in the opposite direction: if Earth gets a little cooler more ice forms, more sunlight is reflected into space, and the Earth can get even cooler./Ferguson). In the diagram depression has several loops going into it and one going out leading to suicide.
Since one or several different things can affect something like a hurricane that what would be a 1 designation could go up to a 4 or 5 due to warmer seas, open seas, low pressure systems, el nino, etc. Each condition is a negative feedback loop and there are not any (or enough of) positive feedback loops to reduce the strength of the hurricane. This system analysis applies to medicine, nature, politics, business and many other topics.
Figure 1 is a diagram of a sustainable coffee plantation which is a project of the think tank, Zeri (Zero Emissions Research and Emissions). It describes the process as “A cup of coffee only contains 0.2% of the biomass of the red coffee cherries harvested. The process of fermenting, drying, roasting, grinding and brewing leads to the ingestion of a minute fraction of the 10 million tons of coffee produced worldwide. This understanding has given rise to the “coffee chemistry”, including farming of mushrooms on post-harvest, post-industrial and post-consumer coffee, the use of the spent substrate enriched with amino-acids as animal feed, the use of fine coffee particles as an odor control, UV-protector and even hydrogen storage system.” The diagram shows the process in a different system presentation.
In this blog I will try to show how one problem in nature can become more powerful until it reaches a tipping point and the system collapses. For example different things can cause an increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and if they are happening at the same time a tipping point or an untenable condition can occur earlier than predicted. So just saying we have a problem in one thing and it will cause a serious problem in a certain time frame doesn’t take into consideration negative feedback loops that would make the problem occur sooner. Conversely a series of positive feedback can reduce or limit a problem. However, nature is not stationary and it is striving for a balance. Consequently, would too many people on the earth, with their present overuse of natural resources, cause a pandemic, excess heat or war which could reduce the numbers of people here?
I am going to list some occurrences or circumstances that could change our living conditions in 2050. Some could occur earlier by 2030 or later in 2100. These will be discussed in detail in later blogs. The purpose is not to be negative or overwhelmingly discouraging, but to make people aware of what could happen. The best option is preventive measures and encouraging people to learn what options, such as joining a movement, are available. This is the least we can do for our future. This will be discussed in Blog 10.
The information is obtained from private and public sources including the EPA, Science for Environmental Policy, Falter by Bill McKibben, Business Insider, American Petroleum Institute (API), Clean Water and Clean Air Act, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), UN Agencies, the internet, Union of Concerned Scientists and others.
Climate change is one of the most important problems that we have occurring at this time. However, present information from the Trump Administration is suspect because climate change information is being sanitized or committed by the USGS, Dept. of Agriculture and the Interior Department. (ClimateWire Reporter-Scott Waldman). EPA reports have been ordered not to show climate predictions past 2050 since predictions past 2050 are the most damaging.
Climate Change (22 Devastating Effects of Climate Change – Leslie Basher). Information fromUnited Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) and others.
Other Problems Relating to Survival on the Earth (Mixed Sources)
There are many sources available to obtain further information. Global Tracker keeps updated accounts of what is happening regarding climate change for every country in the world. The UN-IPCC Reports offer additional predictions on climate change as well as reports from the EPA such as the 2015 edition “Climate Change in the U.S. – Benefits of Global Action.” The following illustration represents a presentation of what needs to be done within a time frame.
Another book to read on this subject is David Wallace Well’s “The Uninhabitable Earth.” I just wish the politicians had some reading ability on the subject. Many people and politicians feel that we can use our present and future technology to solve these problems. False, any way so far. Read the article “Systems thinking and the narrative of climate change” from A Prosperous Way Down. The problems noted above are political, economic, social, environmental, and personal and it is difficult to make all sides come together, especially when you are dealing with linear and non-linear thinking. All of the problems noted can be happening at the same time with the problems noted being negative feedbacks and any reduction in carbon dioxide a positive feedback. The system is continually changing for better or for worse. Time, as well, is a continual factor that determines ever changing results because of the need of all the factors to stay in balance. The longer we wait to reduce problems the worse the outcome. There is a tipping point for everything and if we go past it there is little we can do to correct a situation. To provide hope some of the following articles on solar energy show how we are improving it.
A decade ago James Hanson of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies warned us about the consequences of rising temperatures. Today we are in the breach of the 1ºC upper limits. As of May 2018, the monthly average atmospheric C02 had reached 410ppm. This is the highest level of CO2 the earth has seen in 800,000 years. The UN’s new climate report informs us if we continue at this rate, the planet will warm to 1.5ºC in just 12 years, triggering a sequence of increasingly catastrophic impacts.
The IPPC says that this would be just the beginning; we are currently on track to hit 3-4ºC by the end of the century, which would lead to a largely unlivable planet.
This is just a partial list but it should make us aware of what is happening in the world. Time is running short, yet there are many ways we can prevent these things from happening. Bill McKibben stresses the use of public movements and extensive use of renewable energy (solar, wind, waves, etc.).
An article on the internet “Brand new material could lead to cheaper solar cells” (Oil Price). Scientists may have found a pathway to designing interfaces of hybrid materials that are capable of turning light into electrical currents with high efficiency.
The Guardian noted in “Device could bring both solar power and clean water to mil-lions.”The device that can produce electricity from sunlight while simultaneously purifying water. The researchers say the device is not only a source of green energy but offers an alternative to current technologies for purifying water. It can be used in a backyard or on an industrial scale.
From “Solar Power Cost vs Regular Electricity Cost” (Sunrun) The residential electrical utility rates are on average approximately 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). My cost in July is 11 cents per kWh. The cost of a solar energy system on your home will vary due to your location and weather. If Sunrun installs a home system the electricity will be free in 5 to 10 years. A home system may last 25 years or longer until its degradation rate is reached and this factor is constantly being improved. Worldwide average solar panel module prices have dropped and in some areas it offers the cheapest rates.
Green Tech had an article “New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear.” (Jeff McMahon). They noted that Los Angeles Power and Water officials struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world. Later this month LA officials will approve a 25. Year contract that will serve 7% of the city’s electrical demand at 1.997 cents per kWh for solar energy and 1.3 cents per kWh for power from Batteries.
This is half the estimated cost of power from a new natural gas plant. The city will still depend, however, its supply of power. The plant will be developed by 8minute solar energy on 2,653 acres in Kern County. It qualifies for the 30% Federal investment credit. The EIA estimates the cost of advanced nuclear at 7,7 cents kWh. The lowest known solar price is 1.97 cents for a project in Mexico. Past projects for LA seven years ago provided power at 9 cents. The cost of electricity to the consumer will have to be determined.
This is encouraging but much more work has to be done soon to advert chaos. What is happening is our own making. What was the last time you heard your congress-man/women mention the environment?
In lieu of what is happening the next step is to discuss what can be done now to save the planet. Part of this would be to use my Pilot Demonstration as an example to show what is happening and what can be done.