(P3): Compounding Error

A fully detailed fossil of a small crocodile-like dinosaur in a dark rock.
Death Of The Dinosaurs

There is a deep similarity between the way we have used fossil fuels and debt to drive our political and financial economies, respectively. And the results of this use are also very similar:

  • There are unavoidable limits to both. These limits are not just an amount (quantity in fuels and bubble size in debt), but that both become increasingly difficult to extract or expand as their use increases.
  • The habit of their use also makes it increasingly difficult to change their use or reduce the level of use. This is a species of addiction. If an addict community’s purpose is to facilitate the procurement and use of some drug, our habits in the use of fossil fuels and debt accomplish the same outcome.
  • Their use is always to allow short-term success and a parallel ignoring of long-term consequences.
  • When the consequences become too great to ignore, very significant costs are required to alleviate these accumulated consequences.
  • At the same time, the costs of dealing with the consequences of short-term, non-strategic use further undermines the original advantage of their use.

This cycle of short-term planning in the use of resources (fossil fuels and debt) and the lack of attention to consequences is fractal. That is, the errors occur systemically at every level. It is a characteristic of our complex adaptive social system, and it has as much to do with the momentum of our ever-increasing loss of control over our future as anything else that we believe to be wrong in our society.

We can’t use the way we created and maintain the degradation of our society to change that degradation in anything other than small ways (that is, in ways that don’t change the strategic degradation but may make it worse).  These small improvements will wash out in the same way that ripples from the splash of a small stone wash out in a river.

There is no logic model to resolve the forces driving our complex adaptive disintegrating social system. We need a strategy, not more short-term operational planning.

Author: disabilitynorm

hubby2jill, advocate50+yrs, change strategist, trainer, geezer, Tom and Pepper the wundermutts

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