IX. Systems Engineering

Clean up after yourself doesn't apply in a market economy.

SYSTEMS ENGINEERING There is an odd connection between global warming and my assocition with Dr. Bose.

COLATTERAL DAMAGE I joined Dr. Bose's group in 1964 and for the first time heard the words "systems engineering." My most recent encounter with the concept was in David Owen's book Metropolis about New York City. The commonality was simple: take the whole picture into account. In audio it was to design all the pieces together rather than individual "components" bought from different manufacturers. In Metropolis Owens has an amazing insight about seeing the whole picture by looking at the parts and how they interact with one another. Two simple examples are high population density means less driving and joined apartment buildings help to heat each other. The net outcome of this is that New York City has one of the smallest carbon footprints per capita of any large city.

THE REALIZATION that comes from this is that the isolation of different parts of our Earth system were designed by accident, convenience or economics, not on how they would affect the Earth.

UNFORTUNALITY this is very much the problem of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. But it is also a result of two fundamental realities: 1. technology has outrun evolution; 2. different parts of civilization have developed individually each by their own rules and circumstantes, including local environments, culture, religion and isolation from other societies and perhaps most of all an ignorance of how lifestyle and population influence the whole "system" of civilization.

IRRELEVANT is the first word that comes to mind in bringing up this concept at this time. The salient example is "America First," actually an old idea in American politics but a most fundamental one. "Systems" in this case means community and by community I mean all parts of civilization. Possibly the most disasterous example of this was begun mid-20th century but put into full practice with the ideas in Ronald Regan's politics and economics of a "trickle down economy." Somehow the "magic fingers" of modern capitalism would make this all work for all whereas the reality of the hording instinct of hunter-gatherer tribes had taken over. The outcome was a breakdown of the idea of community, the assendance of the temptation of unlimited wealth.

IN ANOTHER'S SHOES was originally intended for another website, but suddenly, in the face of a seemingly intractable problem of what we are doing to the Earth, may be on target. The Earth is the other part of the system and collateral damage includes what we have done to it. And the other "collateral" part is how many of us there our, besides how we act as a civilization.

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