If we created the Anthropocene, then we can create the Sustainocene!

May 12, 2013 - Leave a Response
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Utopian Refugia: Self-Sufficiency and the Noachic Charter City

July 3, 2011 - 2 Responses

from the Zoroastrian Vendidad 2: Yima and the Flood

Overpopulation and expansion of the earth:

V.2.8 When Yima had ruled for three hundred winters, then this earth became full of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.9 Then I informed Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, This earth is full because of the gathering of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.10 Then Yima went forth toward the lights, at noon, on the path of the sun. He pushed this earth with the golden pick. He goaded it with the goad, saying: O lovable Life-giving Humility, go forth and bow far and wide, O carrier/womb of animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.11 Thus Yima made this earth expand by one-third in size from what it had been before. Here went forth animals, small and large, and men, each according to his own wish, howsoever his pleasure.
V.2.12 When Yima had ruled for six hundred winters, then this earth became full of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.13 Then I informed Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, This earth is full because of the gathering of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.14 Then Yima went forth toward the southern lights, on the path of the sun. He pushed this earth with the golden pick. He goaded it with the goad, saying: O lovable Life-giving Humility, go forth and spread wide, O carrier of animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.15 Thus Yima made this earth expand by two-thirds in size from what it had been before. Here went forth animals, small and large, and men, each according to his own wish, howsoever his pleasure.
V.2.16 When Yima had ruled for nine hundred winters, then this earth became full of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.17 Then I informed Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, This earth is full because of the gathering of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. They found no place to be(?), animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.18 Then Yima went forth toward the southern lights, on the path of the sun. He pushed this earth with the golden pick. He goaded it with the goad, saying: O lovable Life-giving Humility, go forth and spread wide, O carrier of animals, small and large, and men.
V.2.19 Thus Yima made this earth expand by three-thirds in size from what it had been before. Here went forth animals, small and large, and men, each according to his own wish, howsoever his pleasure.

Gods and men take counsel:

V.2.20 Ahura Mazdâ, who has set everything in place, convoked a gathering together with those worthy of sacrifice in the world of thought, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river). Radiant Yima with good herds convoked a gathering together with the best humans, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river).
V.2.21 To that gathering Ahura Mazdâ came. he who has set everything in place, together with those worthy of sacrifice in the world of thought, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river). To that gathering radiant Yima with good herds came together with the best humans, famed in the Aryan Expanse of the Good Lawful (river).
V.2.22 Thus Ahura Mazdâ said to Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, Bad winters will come over the bony world of the living, together with which (one) harsh, horrible winter. Bad winters will come over the bony world of the living, together with which snow will accumulate on the tallest mountains, in the deepest of the *valley.
V.2.23 And threefold cattle will perish here, O Yima: that which is in the most *fearful places, that which is on the heights of the mountains, and that which is in the depths of the rivers (and) in the most solid homes.
V.2.24 Before this winter the land will have rich pasture (and) plenty water to flow (over) it after the snow melt, and wondrous it will seem here to the bony existence, O Yima, that the trace of a sheep should be seen here.

Yima makes the bunker:

V.2.25 So make that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides. Bring together there the seeds of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. Then make that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a dwelling for men, the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a keep for cattle.
V.2.26 Make water flow forth there the length of a league. Place meadows there, with green … (?), with inexhaustible savory foods. Place homes there, with roof and *awning, *porch and *fence.
V.2.27 Bring together there in the same place the seeds of all the men and women who are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth. Bring together there in the same place the seeds of all the cattle species that are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth.
V.2.28 Bring together there the seeds of all the plants that are the tallest and most sweet-smelling on this earth. Bring together there the seeds of all foods that are the most tasty and most sweet-smelling on this earth. Make those into pairs—imperishable as long as these men are in the *enclosures.
V.2.29 May no one with humps, in front or in the back, nor an impotent or a …, nor a driveling one, deceitful one, one with pustules, or a crooked one, nor one with irregular teeth, or one with blotches whose body has been excluded, nor any of the other marks that are the mark of the Evil Spirit put on man.
V.2.30 In the first section of the land make nine passages, in the middle six, and in the last three. In the first passage bring a thousand seeds of men and women,mthe middle six hundred, the last four hundred. And goad them with the golden pick and stroke the enclosure from behind (to make) a door admitting light, self-shining from within.
V.2.31 Then Yima reflected: How I shall make those into an enclosure, the way Ahura Mazdâ told me? Thus said Ahura Mazdâ to Yima: O beautiful Yima son of Vîwanghwan, tread apart this earth with (your) heels, kneed it apart with (your) hands, just like also now people *step about in wet earth.
V.2.32 Then Yima did exactly the way Ahura Mazdâ wished him to. He trod apart this earth with (his) heels, he kneeded it apart with (his) hands, just like also now people *step about in wet earth.
V.2.33 So Yima made that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides. He brought together there the seeds of animals, small and large, and men, of dogs, birds, and red and blazing fires. So Yima made that enclosure: the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a dwelling for men, the length of a race course on each of its four sides as a keep for cattle.
V.2.34 He made water flow forth there the length of a league. He placed meadows there, with green … (?), with inexhaustible savory foods. He placed homes there, with roof and *awning, *porch and *fence.
V.2.35 He brought together there the seeds of all the men and women who are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth. He brought together there the seeds of all the cattle species that are the greatest, and best, and most beautiful on this earth.
V.2.36 He brought together there the seeds of all the plants that are the tallest and most sweet-smelling on this earth. He brought together there the seeds of all foods that are the most tasty and most sweet-smelling on this earth. He made those into pairs—imperishable as long as these men are in the *enclosures.
V.2.37 No one with humps, in front or in the back, nor a castrated one or a …, nor a driveling one, deceitful one, one with pustules, or a crooked one, nor one with irregular teeth, or one with blotches whose body has been excluded, nor any of the other marks that are the mark of the Evil Spirit put on man.
V.2.38 In the first section of the land he made nine passages, in the middle six, and in the last four. In the first passage he brought a thousand seeds of men and women, the middle six hundred, the last four hundred. And he goaded them with the golden pick and stroked the enclosure from behind (to make) a door admitting light, self-shining from within.
V.2.39 O Orderly creator of all things in the bony world of the living! But which *were these lights, O Orderly Ahura Mazdâ, which shine hither in that way in these *enclosures that Yima made?
V.2.40 Then Ahura Mazdâ said: there are lights established by themselves and those made in time. For once it (?) has gone down, the stars, the moon, and the sun seem to come up(?).
V.2.41 And they think it is a day what is a season. In forty years from two humans two humans are born, pairs: a man and a woman. And the same holds for these cattle species. And those humans live the most beautiful life in these *enclosures that Yima made.
V.2.42 Orderly creator of all things in the bony world of the living! Who thus brought the daênâ of those who sacrifice to Ahura Mazdâ wide and far in these *enclosures that Yima made. Then Ahura Mazdâ said: The Karshipta bird, O Orderly Zarathustra.
V.2.43 Orderly creator of all things in the bony world of the living! Who is their first life and model? Then Ahura Mazdâ said: Urwatat.nara, O Zarathustra, and you, Zarathustra.

Jane Poynter tells her story of living two years and 20 minutes in Biosphere 2 — an experience that provoked her to explore how we might sustain life in the harshest of environments.

“There‘s no impediment, other than a failure of imagination, that will keep us from delivering on a truly global win-win solution.”

 —Paul Romer, http://chartercities.org/

Jaque Fresco: Designing the Cities of the Future with the Venus Project

Plato’s Myth of Atlantis, the End of the Minoan Civilization, and A Hard Look at Human Extinction

May 11, 2011 - Leave a Response

Lost Worlds: Atlantis

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Secrets of the Dead: Sinking Atlantis

http://video.pbs.org/video/1204753806

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Plato on Deforestation, Soil Abuse and Water Mismanagement

“What now remains of the formerly rich land is like the skeleton of a sick man, with all the fat and soft earth having wasted away and only the bare framework remaining. Formerly, many of the mountains were arable. The plains that were full of rich soil are now marshes. Hills that were once covered with forests and produced abundant pasture now produce food only for bees. Once the land was enriched by yearly rains, which were not lost, as they are now, by flowing from the bare land into the sea. The soil was deep, it absorbed and kept the water in the loamy soil, and the water that soaked into the hills fed springs and running streams everywhere. Now the abandoned shrines at spots where formerly there were springs attest that our description of the land is true.”

–Plato, “Critias”, ca. 360 BCE, an entire dialog devoted to the myth of Atlantis.

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Sources for the Myth of Atlantis in Plato’s Timaeus:

“And what was the tale about, Critias? said Amynander. 
About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us. 

Tell us, said the other, the whole story, and how and from whom Solon heard this veritable tradition. 

He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called “the first man,” and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on themountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient. 

The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed-if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children. In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven. 

Solon marvelled at his words, and earnestly requested the priests to inform him exactly and in order about these former citizens. You are welcome to hear about them, Solon, said the priest, both for your own sake and for that of your city, and above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action; the exact particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers themselves. If you compare these very laws with ours you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours as they were in the olden time. In the first place, there is the caste of priests, which is separated from all the others; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other classes, and are commanded by the law to devote themselves solely to military pursuits; moreover, the weapons which they carry are shields and spears, a style of equipment which the goddess taught of Asiatics first to us, as in your part of the world first to you. Then as to wisdom, do you observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, out of these divine elements deriving what was needful for human life, and adding every sort of knowledge which was akin to them. All this order and arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when establishing your city; and she chose the spot of earth in which you were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest herself. And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue, as became the children and disciples of the gods. 

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island. 

I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us. And when you were speaking yesterday about your city and citizens, the tale which I have just been repeating to youcame into my mind, and I remarked with astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence, you agreed in almost every particular with the narrative of Solon; but I did not like to speak at the moment. For a long time had elapsed, and I had forgotten too much; I thought that I must first of all run over the narrative in my own mind, and then I would speak. And so I readily assented to your request yesterday, considering that in all such cases the chief difficulty is to find a tale suitable to our purpose, and that with such a tale we should be fairly well provided. “

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Robin Hanson: Catastrophe, Social Collapse and Human Extinction

Space Agriculture

April 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Space Farming Seminar for the winners of the University of Toronto’s Space Design Contest:

Earth Day, 2011: Aquaponics

April 22, 2011 - 4 Responses

Charlie Price: Aquaponics – Getting More Out of Less

“Charlie Price from the social enterprise Aquaponics UK, explores the role aquaponics can play in the future of our collective food supply. He provides an insight into both the applications for aquaponics but more specifically a new approach to urban agriculture, turning wastes into resources and transforming disused urban spaces to provide not only food, but resilient communities.”

ATTRA: Aquaponics—Integration of Hydroponics with Aquaculture 

Integrating Aquaponics With Deeply Sustainable Systems Feat. Don McCormick:

http://gradschool.marlboro.edu – “Don McCormick was the MBA in Managing for Sustainability Featured Speaker for December 3, 2010. McCormick is the president of Carbon Harvest Energy, and his presentation addressed his company’s landfill gas-to-energy project in Brattleboro as a practical model of sustainable and responsible resource use. The central principle of this project is to replace a linear model of resource extraction-to-consumption-to-waste with a circular model based on nature, where waste/outputs are recovered to become new inputs for further processes–until no waste remains. McCormick has over 20 years of entrepreneurship, management and engineering expertise. Prior to founding Carbon Harvest Energy, he designed Laughing Duck Farm, a sustainable aquaponics business that produces year-round food (microgreens and Tilapia) in a cold climate, as well as a greenhouse that uses all renewable energy inputs and eliminates waste through a closed-loop water system.”

Blood and Flowers: The Aztecs

April 22, 2011 - Leave a Response

“Will I have to go like the flowers that perish?

Will nothing remain of my name?

Nothing of my fame here on earth?

At least my flowers, at least my songs!

Earth is the region of the fleeting moment.

Is it also thus in the place

where in some way one lives?

Is there joy there, is there friendship?

Or is it only here on earth

we come to know our faces?”

     – Ayocuan, Nahua poet, (c. 1490)

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[26] “Oh come with Khayyam, and leave the wise

To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;

One Thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;

The Flower that once has blown forever dies.”

[48] “While the Rose blows along the River Brink,

With old Khayyam the Ruby Vintage drink:

And when the Angel with his darker Draught

Draws up to thee — take that, and do not shrink.”

–Omar Khayyam, Persian poet, (c. 1120) “Rubaiyat,” (Fitzgerald, tr.) 

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“We will pass away. I, NezahualCóyotl, say, Enjoy!

Do we really live on earth? Ohuaya ohuaya!

Not forever on earth, only a brief time here!

Even jades fracture; even gold ruptures, even quetzal plumes tear:

Not forever on earth: only a brief time here! Ohuaya ohuaya!”

–Nezahualcoyotl, Nahua poet, (1402-1472 ce.) “The Flower Tree”

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Excerpt from 500 Nations (CBS):

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AZTEC POETRY: Information and Translations

 The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire: Getty Villa Exhibition

CHINAMPAS: The Original Aztec Aquaponics!

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Death By Design: The Evolutionary Ingenuity of Cellular Apoptosis

April 20, 2011 - Leave a Response

Death By Design Movie – [Part 1/5]

Death By Design Movie – [Part 2/5]

Death By Design Movie – [Part 3/5]

Death By Design Movie – [Part 4/5]

Death By Design Movie – [Part 5/5]

“All the things we see when awake are death, even as all we see in slumber are sleep.” — Heraclitus [B21]

“When they are born, they wish to live and to meet with their dooms — or rather to rest — and they leave children behind them to meet with their dooms in turn.”   –Heraclitus [B20]

“Collections: wholes and not wholes; brought together, pulled apart; sung in unison, sung in conflict; from all things one and from one all things.” — Heraclitus [B10]


“The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower…”

April 20, 2011 - Leave a Response

 MIT Chemist Daniel Nocera Harnesses Photosynthesis to Store Solar Power:

Sun Catalytix Company Website (has not gone public yet!!)

Dr. Daniel G. Nocera @ MIT

[PAPER] Powering the Planet: Chemical Challenges in Solar Energy Utilization

ABSTRACT: Global energy consumption is projected to increase, even in the face of substantial declines in energy intensity, at least 2-fold by midcentury relative to the present because of population and economic growth. This demand could be met, in principle, from fossil energy resources, particularly coal. However, the cumulative nature of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere demands that holding atmospheric CO2 levels to even twice their preanthropogenic values by midcentury will require invention, development, and deployment of schemes for carbon-neutral energy production on a scale commensurate with, or larger than, the entire present-day energy supply from all sources combined. Among renewable energy resources, solar energy is by far the largest exploitable resource, providing more energy in 1 hour to the earth than all of the energy consumed by humans in an entire year. In view of the intermittency of insolation, if solar energy is to be a major primary energy source, it must be stored and dispatched on demand to the end user. An especially attractive approach is to store solar-converted energy in the form of chemical bonds, i.e., in a photosynthetic process at a year-round average efficiency significantly higher than current plants or algae, to reduce land-area requirements. Scientific challenges involved with this process include schemes to capture and convert solar energy and then store the energy in the form of chemical bonds, producing oxygen from water and a reduced fuel such as hydrogen, methane, methanol, or other hydrocarbon species.

The supply of secure, clean, sustainable energy is arguably the most important scientific and technical challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Energy security, national security, environmental security, and economic security can likely be met only through addressing the energy problem within the next 10–20 yr. Meeting global energy demand in a sustainable fashion will require not only increased energy efficiency and new methods of using existing carbon-based fuels but also a daunting amount of new carbon-neutral energy. The various factors that conspire to support the above far-reaching conclusions and the basic science needed for the development of a large-scale cost-effective carbon-neutral energy system are the focus of this paper.

Self-Sacrifice and Sustainability: The Hero Twins of the Popol Vuh

April 16, 2011 - Leave a Response

“Then again they sacrificed themselves. One of them would die, surely throwing himself down in death. Then having been killed, he would immediately be revived. And the Xibalbans simply watched them while they did it. Now all of this was merely the groundwork for the defeat of the Xibalbans at their hands.”

Chris Hedges: Throw Out The Money Changers!

” If we are to save our country, and our planet, we must turn from exalting the self, to subsuming of the self for our neighbor. Self-sacrifice defies the sickness of corporate ideology. Self-sacrifice mocks opportunities for advancement, money and power. Self-sacrifice smashes the idols of greed and envy. Self-sacrifice demands that we rise up against the abuse, injury and injustice forced upon us by the mandarins of corporate power. There is a profound truth in the biblical admonition “He who loves his life will lose it.”

“Life is not only about us. We can never have justice until our neighbor has justice. And we can never recover our freedom until we are willing to sacrifice our comfort for open rebellion. The president has failed us. The Congress has failed us. The courts have failed us. The press has failed us. The universities have failed us. Our process of electoral democracy has failed us. There are no structures or institutions left that have not been contaminated or destroyed by corporations. And this means it is up to us. Civil disobedience, which will entail hardship and suffering, which will be long and difficult, which at its core means self-sacrifice, is the only mechanism left.”

Competition vs Cooperation

April 16, 2011 - Leave a Response

“Competition undermines sustainability in the long term.” — Dr. Joseph Tainter

Introduction to Game Theory

LECTURE DESCRIPTION: We introduce Game Theory by playing a game. We organize the game into players, their strategies, and their goals or payoffs; and we learn that we should decide what our goals are before we make choices. With some plausible payoffs, our game is a prisoners’ dilemma. We learn that we should never choose a dominated strategy; but that rational play by rational players can lead to bad outcomes. We discuss some prisoners’ dilemmas in the real world and some possible real-world remedies. With other plausible payoffs, our game is a coordination problem and has very different outcomes: so different payoffs matter. We often need to think, not only about our own payoffs, but also others’ payoffs. We should put ourselves in others’ shoes and try to predict what they will do. This is the essence of strategic thinking.

Course Materials

Interactive Prisoner’s Dilemma Game

Evolutionary Stability: Cooperation, Mutation, and Equilibrium

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g4A_1qFgjvMg%5D

LECTURE DESCRIPTION: We discuss evolution and game theory, and introduce the concept of evolutionary stability. We ask what kinds of strategies are evolutionarily stable, and how this idea from biology relates to concepts from economics like domination and Nash equilibrium.

Course Materials

Evolutionary Stability: Social Convention, Aggression, and Cycles

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g4A_2KN5jvMg%5D
http://oyc.yale.edu/economics/econ-159/lecture-12

LECTURE DESCRIPTION: We apply the idea of evolutionary stability to consider the evolution of social conventions. Then we consider games that involve aggressive (Hawk) and passive (Dove) strategies, finding that sometimes, evolutionary populations are mixed. We discuss how such games can help us to predict how behavior might vary across settings. Finally, we consider a game in which there is no evolutionary stable population and discuss an example from nature.

Course Materials

Interactive Evolution Games

Beyond the Tragedy of the Commons with Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom

“That all persons call the same thing mine in the sense in which each does so may be a fine thing, but it is impracticable; or if the words are taken in the other sense, such a unity in no way conduces to harmony. And there is another objection to the proposal. For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few.”

— Aristotle, Politics, Book II, Chapter III, 1261b

Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist from Indiana University and winner of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, looks at a variety of research into why some groups self-organize and others do not, and the relevance of the theory of collective action to the governance and management of natural resources.

Ostrom is considered one of the leading scholars of common pool resources–forests, fisheries, oil fields, grazing lands, and irrigation systems. In particular, her work emphasizes how humans interact with ecosystems to maintain long-term sustainable resource yields.

Collective Action and the Commons: What Have We Learned? (Ostrom @ Cornell, 2009)

Companion Powerpoint (From Ostrom’s Tanner Lecture @ Stanford, 2011):

“The Challenge of Sustainability: Frameworks”

Abstract: Currently, the scientific approaches to the study of sustainability of complex ecological systems and complex socioeconomic systems are quite disparate. Over time, biology and ecology have accepted the necessity of understanding complex systems in developing a nested, scientific language to study them. Over time, many of the social studies that focus on the question of sustainable ecosystems or the sustainability of market systems or political systems have attempted instead to develop the simplest possible models and theories to explain what is occurring in the world over time.

The biological and ecological sciences have been extremely successful in understanding ecological systems that are remote, and thus, not strongly affected by human action. When humans play a major role, both the biological sciences and the social sciences are lacking effective theories and explanations of failures as well as successes.

One of the steps necessary to solve this problem is the development of a shared language that links what is going on in regard to resource systems and resource units with what is going on in relationship to governance systems and actors as they jointly affect action situations, incentives, and outcomes.

In this first lecture, Ostrom will review some of the work being done to build a better framework for understanding complex ecological and socioeconomic systems.

Elinor Ostrom Delivers Her Nobel Prize Lecture

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