Pie in the sky: A systems dynamic perspective of sustainability [Willard Fey and Ann Lam, ISSS 1998 Plenary Session, July 22/98]

[Plenary session, July 22/98, 9.25 a.m.]

Willard Fey is a co-developer of systems dynamics at MIT, now at Georgia Tech

Ann Lam is a software engineer at DEC, trained in computer engineer, system engineering

Tape: electromagnetic radiation from space, recorded by Voyager.

From system-dynamics program at MIT.

System dynamics methodology:

Crucial variable on world human consumption. Exponential function Population doubling time has fallen from 600 years to 34 years, due to reduction in deaths in early 1900s World GDP underestimates consumption: linear in log. Engineering design: constant negative-coefficient exponentials are simple feedback relationships. Two parameter feedback system. If human systems do not stop the growth, an environment catastrophe will stop it.

Bolero is the quintessential musical exponential.

Diagram: Population causal loops (with arrows)

Animals have territoriality to limit growth: no mating. Technology causal loops: Government / borrowing causal loops

Sustainabilty criteria:

  1. Must be stable: No exponential growth can be permitted, all positive loops must have limits.
  2. Sufficiency: When growth ends, sufficient raw material and environmental infrastructure must be left to support growth.
Proposals that will not solve the growth: Tragic dilemmas:

Navigate ...
... to the 1998 ISSS Conference (Rough) Transcription Main Page
... to the ISSS home page at www.isss.org.