June 24, 2003

A bit of recap

The theme of this blog is Earth systems management. The idea is to explore my ideas about what we know and what we need to learn about how our planet works. Building on that I want to begin to sketch out thoughts on how we might begin to organize ourselves in order to maximize the chance that human activities will be as benign as possible with respect to the health of our planet and the chance that generations to come will enjoy a good quality of life.

Tonight I am going to recap a bit on what I have written so far. Partly this is because my imagination is a bit dull and partly to help think about where to go next (are the two related?).

I have spent a fair amount of time on epistemological issues like modeling and rationality. The reason I have been working on these issues is that I want to establish a foundation for how we (scientists anyway) think about problems. While this is part of decision-making, it is very different from the kinds of things that decision scientists think about (e.g. I haven't talked at all (with the possible exception of the little bit on bounded rationality) about individual cognitive and psychological issues).

I have skirted around issues of complexity, but still haven't gotten to hierarchy or emergent phenomena. It is because I expect that to a certain extent global decisions will be emergent, that I am not so interested in individual cognitive processes. (This reflects some of my ideas with respect to scale; I am willing to accept individual brains/ minds as black boxes in the context of Earth systems management. (Note that this does not mean I thnk minds / brains are uninteresting in other contexts.))

I have talked about weather and climate (although I haven't done anything about it). Climate is the natural Earth systems that I know the most about and am most interested in, but it is not the only one. Biodiversity is another major Earth systems topic. Issues of ecosystems link biodiversity and climate and are also interesting in their own right.

I have written some about public policy and perhaps hinted at some political theory.

Some of the things that need to be reviewed in upcoming entries include:
- global institutions
- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Prediction
- the many facets of globalization
- more on political theory
- some entries on important systems and cycle (e.g. carbon cycle, food webs, ecosystem services)
- and much much more...

Stay tuned.