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We could not do our work without networks. Most of the networks we belong to are informal. Some are electronic, some involve people looking each other in the face every day. One of the most important purposes of a network is simply to remind its members that they are not alone. A network is nonhierarchical. There are thousands and thousands of networks that developed as people with common purposes found each other.

About local networks we can say little here; our localities are different from yours. There are more telephones in Tokyo, it has been said, than in all of Africa. But once more the wonder of human inventiveness seems to provide a surprising solution in the form of the Web and cheap access devices. One could argue that Africa and other underrepresented parts of the world should attend first to their needs for many things other than computers and Web access.

We are no more certain of the truth than anyone is. But we often know an untruth when we hear one.

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Many untruths are deliberate, understood as such by both speaker and listeners. You can question the notion that more for the rich will help the poor. The more you can counter misinformation, the more manageable our society will become. Not: Change is sacrifice, and it should be avoided.

Nor: Sappy optimism. How do we speak to each other as fellow modelers with an appropriate mixture of skepticism and respect? How do we stop playing right-wrong games with each other and start designing right-wrong tests for our models against the real world? All people will find their own best role in all this doing. Do it not as immutable policy, but as experiment.

Use your action, whatever it is, to learn. At this time, no one knows enough. No policy should be imposed wholesale upon the whole world. Learning means the willingness to go slowly, to try things out, and to collect information about the effects of actions, including the crucial but not always welcome information that the action is not working.

A sustainability revolution requires each person to act as a learning leader at some level, from family to community to nation to world. No one can be free to learn without patience and forgiveness. One is not allowed in the industrial culture to speak about love, except in the most romantic and trivial sense of the word. In a society that systematically develops individualism, competitiveness, and short-term focus, the pessimists are in the vast majority.

Love and compassion institutionalized in collective solutions is the better alternative. A culture that does not believe in, discuss, and develop these better human qualities suffers from a tragic limitation in its options. Many people have recognized that necessity and that opportunity.

For example, John Maynard Keynes wrote in But we try, and we urge you to try. Be patient with yourself and others as you and they confront the difficulty of a changing world. Understand and empathize with inevitable resistance; there is resistance, some clinging to the ways of unsustainability, within each of us. Seek out and trust in the best human instincts in yourself and in everyone. Humanity must learn to love the idea of leaving future generations a living planet.

Is anything we have advocated here, from more resource efficiency to more compassion, really possible? Can the world actually ease down below the limits and avoid collapse? Can the human footprint be reduced in time? Is there enough vision, technology, freedom, community, responsibility, foresight, money, discipline, and love, on a global scale?

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Many of the informed are infected with the deep cynicism that lies just under the ritual public cheerfulness. The truth of the matter is that no one knows. We have said many times that the world faces not a preordained future, but a choice. The choice is between different mental models, which lead logically to different scenarios.

One mental model says that this world for all practical purposes has no limits.

1. Basic Organizing Principles of Marx’s Communism

The result will be collapse. At least not in time. That model is self-fulfilling. But there is just enough time, with no time to waste.

But the evidence we have seen, from world data to global computer models, suggests that it could conceivably be made right. Ralph Waldo Emerson. See www. Read More. The Academy occasionally sends E-newsletters with updates on the work of our fellows, the Donella Meadows Project and more. Sign up here if you'd like to stay connected.

All Rights Reserved. Donella Meadows Archives. Networking We could not do our work without networks. Truth-Telling We are no more certain of the truth than anyone is. The last challenge, sorting out and testing models, brings us to the topic of learning.


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Loving One is not allowed in the industrial culture to speak about love, except in the most romantic and trivial sense of the word. Footnotes 1. Donella Meadows Legacy. These models embody Keynesianism, and are still in use by the Federal Reserve, other major central banks around the world, and the International Monetary Fund.

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Or at least, they never will as long as smart guys like Robert Lucas Jr. Lucas has pushed back Keynes' macroeconomics and fought to revive many traditional views.

The Top 50 Economists from 1900 to the Present

He is now considered one of the leading figures in neo-classical economics. Not surprisingly, he is very skeptical of government intervention. He casts doubt on the Phillips curve, which purports to show that government induced inflation lowers unemployment. He has spent a great deal of time exploring the theory of rational expectations, which begins with certain assumptions about human behavior attempting to act in sensible ways, which maximize utility and build expectations out from these presuppositions. His work won him the Nobel Prize in Lucas also produced the novel idea that microeconomic behavior should be seen as foundational to macroeconomic behavior.

Before Lucas, the Keynesian school saw these two sub-branches of economics as largely independent, but Lucas saw the larger scale model as reducing to the former. Lucas was also very leery of the dangers of unsystematic monetary policy deceiving market participants into making poor choices. This view obviously emphasizes the dangers of government manipulation of markets, even if well intended. As a whole, Lucas is a prime example of the conservative Chicago School of Economics at work.

Many economists have incorporated prior interest in other fields of study into their analysis of money. Usually this involves math, history, or sociology, but Elinor Ostrom has approached things from a different angle. She has championed New Institutional Economics.


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Under this approach, one studies the background political context that thereby produces the rules under which commerce operates.