Two of the core principles of the permaculture paradigm are to first observe and understand then intervene in the system leveraging feedback. I’ve studied systems thinking informally for a little while now. One of the blogs that I regularly read to add my understanding of systems is Leverage Points. Their recent post talks about change to our thinking being the most important challenge in responding to climate change.
Bob Doppelt of Leverage Points writes:
Capital is now flowing into clean technology sectors, in part to reduce climate-damaging carbon emissions. However, as important as new technologies are, we won’t solve the climate crises until we overcome a much more fundamental problem: our maladaptive beliefs and practices.
Read the complete text of Bob’s article here.
In reading this I’m reminded of the chapter Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System of the late Donella H. Meadows’ book, Thinking in Systems. The change in our thinking that Bob Doppelt writes about equates to a change of paradigm, the mind-set out of which the system – its goals, structure, rules, delay and parameters – arise according to Meadows. Meadows contends that of the 12 possible system leverage points, making a change to the paradigm is the second most powerful place to intervene in a system. This may be why it is so difficult.
In the article Doppelt contends
Second-order change is difficult because it requires three factors. People must feel significant dissonance between their current conditions and a desired new state. They must also experience a sufficient sense of efficacy or confidence in their ability to do what’s needed to eliminate the dissonance. And, just as important, they must believe that the benefits of making the change significantly outweigh the detriments. Without adequate sense of dissonance, efficacy, and benefits, people can remain stuck in less-than optimal or destructive patterns for long periods of time.
More and more people have observed the current climate situation and are feeling the dissonance in it. Permaculture is an alternative to the current paradigm, the one from which the problem of climate change has arisen. Books, articles, lectures, training and blogs like this one help us see what is possible. They show us the benefits of a new paradigm and help us to see that we can make it happen.