Blog: Welcome!April 12, 2018
Day 4,256: The iCASS PlatformMay 7, 2018
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There are 4,275 days until 2030 (SDG 15)
Let’s get started…
(1969−2000) …and one book from 1967.
“Why start with year 1969?” you ask.
A lot of social change took place during the decade of my birth…and 1969 seems to have been an exceptional year in that regard. Two historical benchmarks immediately come to mind:
1) the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which passed in both houses of Congress that year (and was signed into law by a Republican President in 1970); and,
2) the first manned space mission (Apollo 11), which landed on the Moon a short eight years after being funded by Congress and despite vocal skeptics].
1969 provides us with two very good examples of what we can do when our backs are against the wall – whether it be geo-politically (as in the case of the Apollo mission), or environmentally (as in the case of NEPA). And isn’t that where we find ourselves today with climate change and the Sixth Extinction well underway: with our backs against the wall? In fact, one could make a very good argument that we are in the midst of a geo-political-environmental quandary…or simply put – a “wicked problem” (Rittel & Webber, 1973).
Let us refresh our memories and recall the power we have in furthering change by taking a quick look at the following legacy articles, books, papers, and reports. If nothing else, it may help to remind us that there have been many people before us on this path towards transformation. We are not the initiators of this journey…just the next generation…and here, we pay tribute to a representative example of the founding fathers and mothers that advocated for change (listed alphabetically by subject):
Crutzen & Stoermer (2000) propose to call the current geological epoch the “anthropocene.” They identify rapid population growth and our ability to be “a major geological force for many millennia” to support their proposal. They suggest the late-18th century as a time period for the start of the anthropocene; and note the need for development of a global strategy that leads to ecosystem sustainability.
Citation: Crutzen, P. J., & Stoermer, E. F. (2000). The “Anthropocene.” Global Change Newsletter 41, 17–18. International Geosphere–Biosphere Programme (IGBP). Retrieved from http://www.igbp.net/download/18.316f18321323470177580001401/1376383088452/NL41.pdf
The World Conservation Strategy (1980) identifies objectives for conservation including the protection of ecological processes and life-support systems, preservation of genetic diversity, and sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems. It also identifies priorities for national (and international) action including policy making that integrates conservation and development, and environmental planning and rational use [of resources] allocation. The Strategy influenced development of “Our Common Future” (1987) [see “Sustainable Development” below].
Citation: International Union for Conservation of Nature, Natural Resources, & World Wildlife Fund. (1980). World conservation strategy: Living resource conservation for sustainable development. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. Retrieved from https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/documents/wcs-004.pdf
MacArthur & Wilson (1967) introduce the theory of “island biogeography” – a theory that has been very helpful in understanding the effects of habitat fragmentation. The theory proposes that the number of species on an island reflects an equilibrium between colonization and extinction rates (i.e., colonization rates are high when the island is not densely populated, and extinction rates are high when it is). It suggests distance to/from the mainland influences immigration rates (i.e., those close have higher immigration rates than those farther away). It also suggests island size influences extinction rates (larger islands have lower rates, smaller islands have higher rates) and numbers of species (larger islands have greater numbers, smaller islands have fewer numbers).
Citation: MacArthur, R. H., & Wilson, E. O. (1967). The theory of island biogeography. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. 203 p.
Our Common Future (1987) – the “Brundtland Report” – a milestone in triggering international awareness of sustainable development at the global-scale. The Report defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Citation: World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf
Lackey (1998) identifies seven principles or “pillars” for ecosystem management: 1) societal values and priorities, 2) identifying boundaries based on management problems, 3) ecosystem condition (health and integrity), 4) ecosystem stability, 5) biodiversity, 6) sustainability, and 7) the role of scientific information. He closes with a definition of ecosystem management: “The application of ecological and social information, options, and constraints to achieve desired social benefits within a defined geographic area and over a specified period.”
Rittel & Webber (1973) identify ten characteristics of “wicked problems” (i.e., “…problems that planners deal with…” [p. 160]):
There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem (p. 161). Wicked problems cannot be fully described.
Wicked problems have no stopping rule (p. 162). Planners can continuously plan because there are no criteria to gauge when sufficient understanding of the problem has been obtained.
Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad (p. 163).
Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trail-and-error, every attempt counts significantly (p. 163).
Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan (p. 164).
Every wicked problem is essentially unique (p. 164).
Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem (p. 165).
Wicked problems can be explained in numerous ways (p. 166).
The planner has no right to be wrong (p. 166).
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