Supply side sustainability: A hierarchical theoretical model for incorporating technology [Timothy F.H. Allen, ISSS 1998 Plenary Session, July 21/98]

[Plenary session, July 21/98, 8:55 a.m.]

Tim Allen, U. of Wisconsin

Talk about emergent systems:

"On the Origin of Species" barely deals with origin of species, because evolution doesn't handle this well. In emergence, start with no structure, with a some accident on a steep gradient giving positive feedback, and therefore emergent structure. Far from equilibrium: dissipative structure. The earth has a gradient between the atmosphere and ground -- turbulent thunderclouds.

Evolution solves a problem, then moves to the next problem, and the next problem ...

Emergence, have a hierarchy, which increases complexity New book Joe Tainter, the collapse of complex society Viscous diminishing returns. Chart: Breadth of complexity vs. level of complexity: concave function

Historical technologies:

The Principles of Supply Side Sustainability

1. Renewal resources come from an ecosystem engine plugged into the sun. 2. Manage from the context, not from the parts

3. Systems with a workable context will subside the effort for ...

4. Always use positive feedbacks to achieve system change.

Chart: complexity versus time, joined rising curves. Is there anyone maintaining quality? It's not business!

Question

Is society sustainable? Objection: Concern with supply-side sustainability, from history of supply-side economics: viewing society only through taxation. Walter Davis, Kent State U.: Supply side sustainability deals only with production, and leaves the other side: distribution. Looking at future of mining on other planets? As long as growth is a possibility, then there will be trade-offs versus conservation. Supply side, pollution of resources?

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