Dealing with ecosystems II: The field of myths and dreams

Graham Harris v3By Graham Harris

This blog is continued from Thinking Systems #8

At present, working either with a restricted set of values or when we claim to be totally value free (impossible in practice), we plan remediation programmes as “predict-act” schemes and then fail to deliver the goods. It’s very much like the myth of the field of dreams: “build it and they will come…” but often they don’t! [Remember the important roles of chance, necessity and 2nd order interactions.] Continue reading

Dealing with ecosystems I

Graham Harris v3By Graham Harris

This and the next few blogs on the topic of our dealings with ecosystems are longer than usual and are probably only for ecologists and environmental managers. They get complicated in places so to quote my favourite blogger (Roger Cicala) “Warning; these are Geek Level 3 blogs”. To many ecologists these will be controversial.  Continue reading

Robust distributed infrastructure

Graham Harris v3By Graham Harris

I first came across the idea of distributed infrastructure systems when we began planning the CSIRO Australia Energy Flagship in 2001-2. The full flowering of these innovations has taken more than a decade to come to fruition and, even now, for reasons I shall discuss, not all aspects of the concept have been implemented in energy networks around the world. Nevertheless, despite impediments, the basic concept is emerging rapidly. Continue reading

Robust distributed solutions – a different view of uncertainty

Graham Harris v3By Graham Harris

In a series of books and papers Andreas Wagner has explored the basis of the robustness of living organisms: his discoveries have been breaking new ground. In books like Robustness and evolvability of living systems (2005), and The arrival of the fittest (2015), he has shown how living organisms depend for their survival on genetic and metabolic networks which possess modularity and distributed robustness. Continue reading

Energy Policy requires SMARTer analysis

IMG_8961 v1.2By Honorary Professorial Fellow Les Hosking

Everyday there are references in the print, electronic and social media regarding fossil fuels, renewable energy, carbon abatement, climate change, environmental effects, energy prices and the many impacts associated with these important topics. As a very simple overview of the dichotomy of opinions on these issues, there exists a fundamental debate as to why, how, when and at what cost should Australia respond by doing anything, or lead, or follow the world in transitioning from energy sourced from fossil fuel to energy sourced from renewable and sustainable energy sources. Continue reading

Epistemic uncertainty is important: ask the Thanksgiving turkeys

Graham Harris v3By Graham Harris

As Dr Nick Winder has pointed out, since the 1970s we have found ourselves more and more having to comprehend and deal with recursive, open, non-stationary and evolving entities that we have come to call systems or “systems of systems.” Continue reading

Is demography destiny?

SMART EduBlog- Garry Bowditch – Is Demography Destiny- Image 1By Garry Bowditch

Australia had a bonanza of major reports handed down in the past week commissioned by the Federal government on the challenges and opportunities for the nation to retain its position as one of the most liveable places on earth. Continue reading

Flexible Petrol Levy the solution to addressing congestion

SMART EduBlog- Gordon Noble – Flexible Petrol Levy- Image 1By Honorary Professorial Fellow Gordon Noble

A flexible petrol levy that rises and falls with global petrol prices, is a better way to address congestion than the cost reflective road pricing model proposed by the Harper Competition Review. Continue reading

Second (and third) thoughts: Second-order cybernetics and deconstruction

Graham Harris v3By Graham Harris

The old saw says “many a true word is spoken in jest.” and this has been proven by Terry Pratchett who wrote the following in one of his witty Disc World novels:

“First thoughts are everyday thoughts. Everyone has those. Second thoughts are the thoughts you think about the way you think. People who enjoy thinking have those. Third thoughts are thoughts that watch the world and think all by them selves. They’re rare and often troublesome. Listening to them is part of witchcraft.” (A Hat full of sky, 2004, Disc World novel #32, footnote 2, p. 74). Continue reading