Aquifer management plan dead in the water

This forum supports discussion on topics of interest to the Environmental and Energy Special interest Groups of the System Dynamics Society. Everyone who is logged in may post to this forum.
Forum rules
This forum supports discussion on topics of interest to the Environmental and Energy Special interest Groups of the System Dynamics Society. Everyone who is logged in may post to this forum.
Post Reply
Michael Fletcher
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:45 am

Aquifer management plan dead in the water

Post by Michael Fletcher » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:58 am

http://www.magicvalley.com/news/local/a ... c69cb.html

I keep an eye on this in my news feeds.

The failure to act when the evidence is clear, shows that the failure is not in the science but in the massive flaws in shared decision making that seems to permeate the planet right now. This is more than the tragedy of the commons - the pathology of poor decision making has to be deeper than that.

Unfortunately, I've seen numerous of these type failures adding up of late. Aquifers, Fisheries, Global Warming to name a few.

The greatest failures are not failures in action or planning or even science, but in thinking. Simply "Blinding them with Science" (as the song said) or overwhelming amounts of evidence doesn't appear to be working. Personally I think that the only way to address this is to challenge and overturn some of the key assumptions. We can train student drivers not to red-line car engines but we seem to have trouble training political and business leader not to red-line the planet. All the science is doing here is publishing the MTBF data - which people do not really understand (they think its some kind of constant which they cannot affect) and clearly are ignoring.

In a car I can go to 7000rpm, but know its far better to run at less than 1/2 of that for safe operations. Running the world at 40% max RPM seems like possible solution. Design in system slack. That is pretty much what is required to run the planet indefinitely, but requires a complete shift in thinking. We already know that competition can even function successfully with such limiters in place (e.g. NASCAR - no performance enhancing drugs in major sports etc.) That is the kind of thinking we need.

The conversation clearly has to turn to economic and corporate rules that allow for competition with about a 40% limiter. Simple stuff I'm sure considering the amount of smarts out there.

Jack Harich
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:56 am
Location: Atlanta, Georgia US
Contact:

Re: The failure to act when the evidence is clear

Post by Jack Harich » Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:04 pm

Mike,

This reply is just to you because I've mentioned this line before. "The failure to act when the evidence is clear" indicates the system is exhibiting strong change resistance. This is something I've been addressing for years. A paper in the SD Review in January of last year agrees with you: "This is more than the tragedy of the commons - the pathology of poor decision making has to be deeper than that. "

It is much deeper than that. The paper attempts to find the root cause of poor decision making at the systemic level. Then it puts its finger on the high leverage points for resolving the root causes. Then it presents possible solution elements for pushing on the high leverage points.

It's all wrong of course. But at least this approach goes further than conventional thinking which, as you say in so many words and in the link about aquifer mgt problems in Idaho, is not working.

After you've read the paper, here's my question: Does this explain the systemic behavior you're seeing?

With warm regards,

Jack

Michael Fletcher
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:45 am

Re: Aquifer management plan dead in the water

Post by Michael Fletcher » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:40 am

I've read it Jack, and I think we are in agreement with perhaps a somewhat different focus. Perhaps it all comes down to assumptions.

At a fairly simple level decisions result from Mindsets and Mental Models, which have a foundation a set of assumptions. I'm not aware of survey data, but it wouldn't surprise me if most people don't even acknowledge we are in overshoot - or if they understand it on a the surface they do not grasp the implications. As John Kerry commented on the strategic thinking about Vietnam - the smartest people with the best data failed because they failed to challenge core assumptions. You mention some of these in your paper. A bit of a of an over generalization perhaps but Classic Activism to a large degree challenges behaviors based on the current operational assumptions, or attacks surface assumptions while leaving the deeper ones unchallenged; unfortunately the sustainability issue has to peel away whole layers of assumptions each more deeply rooted than the last.

There are numerous changes which must occur; you mention corporate structure. My own guess is that current corporate rules are possibly the strong source of change resistance, and no substantial change will occur until Economists and Leaders wake and start giving corporate redesign (those limiters I talked about) serious effort.

I will end with a attempt at humor: I do have some level of hope in regards to education. Just like Bathtub dynamics - most of the key concepts are almost intuitive and simple enough for anyone to understand. If a NASCAR fan can understand slack and limiters then Economists and Policitians should be able to as well!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests