Enigmas of Ecological Problem-Solving

Context: The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change

Differentiating Climate Change from the broader facts of human-induced environmental-systems disassembly in the title of the article (referenced above) is a rhetorical tool which (both) entirely misses the point and succinctly characterises the core epistemological enigma of this issue. Climate Change is only one dimension of the legitimately “wicked” and quite literally multi-dimensional existential problem of environmental and ecological complexity with which we are now faced. In any problem-space of deeply interdependent complexity such as this, it may be an elementary psychological error to attribute an ontological rank or priority to the nodal components of explanation.

We are generally educated by collective wisdom or social and cultural conventions to understand, communicate, model and seek to effect change in our world through the narrative and cognitive methods of a narrow-view, “mechanistic” or hierarchical linear analysis. The distributed and non-linearly holistic problem-spaces that we currently face, and that have arguably (and perhaps ironically) been incurred by an over-investment in a simplistic and linear cognitive and organisational practise, require new methods of thinking, of understanding and of acting.

The kernel of this enigma is that the distributed, non-hierachical cognitive methods and intellectual innovations necessary to disentangle the Gordian Knot of unfolding environmental catastrophe are complete anathema to the forms of governance, organisation (and even) psychological or social and cultural methods with which we have become accustomed to solve problems. The non-linear cognitive flexibility and diverse conceptual vocabulary required to describe this problem-space is also the heuristic practise with which we might seek to successfully address it.

The Beautiful Uncertainty of Nature

Context: We need a war on tidiness

It is, ironically, in our attempts to explain, to mimic and to supersede nature that our greatest failures (also) manifest themselves. The linear aspiration to a pure mechanical logic and axiomatic certainty is, beyond the many (overt) successes of engineering and mathematics, an attempt at control which says more of psychological aspiration than it does of logical necessity.

The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi (as poignantly evident in the beautiful art of pottery restoration known as Kintsukuroi) captures an unbounded and profound emergent complexity in the incomplete, the discontinuous and the natural world.