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Sustainability Boils Down to Scale

Sustainability Boils Down to Scale

Only small scale systems can sustainably impose “skin in the game”– consequences, accountability and oversight.

Several conversations I had at the recent Peak Prosperity conference in Sonoma, CA sparked an insight into why societies and economies thrive or fail: It All Boils Down to Scale. In a conversation with a Peak Prosperity member who goes by MemeMonkey, MemeMonkey pointed out that social / economic organizations that function well at small scales (i.e. localized) fail when scaled up and centralized (i.e. globalized).

I was immediately struck by the impact of scale on markets (Capitalism) and the state (Socialism), an ideological spectrum I’ve written about recently.

Both markets and governance function well at a small scale because those making the decisions must absorb the consequences of their actions/choices.

In large-scale centralized systems, those at the top of the wealth-power pyramid who wield the greatest influence are typically immune from the consequences of their (self-serving) decisions.

Indeed, the entire point of centralized hierarchies is to buffer top decision-makers from the consequences of their actions and choices.

This ties directly into Nassim Taleb’s most recent popularization of the critical role played by participants having “skin in the game,” i.e. exposure to the consequences of their actions and choices.

In a small localized group, it’s basically impossible for anyone, even those at the top of the local welth-power pyramid, to escape the consequences of extractive activities that disupt the local ecosystem.

For example, should overfishing destroy the local fisheries, even the leaders no longer have access to fish.

Should the leadership pursue a conflict with a neighboring tribe, the leaders are just as likely to be killed or maimed as any participant (and very possibly more likely to be killed/injured, as leaders are naturally high-value targets).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Talking climate, taking action – a quest for belonging

This is the final post in a series of blogs from our Guest Editor Kate Heath, an ex-humanitarian worker now based in Paris – exploring how to have constructive conversations about climate change.


In this, my final reflections on the value, science and art of talking climate change and energy issues, I lift this to you: do this together. Do this in community. Traverse the valleys, the slopes, the bogs and the boulderfields, the heights of this quest in company – and then share the stories that roll from it.

Those of you involved in Transition are in a particularly unique and rich position from which to start conversations, given your involvement already in an active community of belonging. Human connections rally people like no other factor. Tales of action, from a trusted space warm with relationships, where the whole emotional shebang can be explored – anxieties and doubts alongside hopes and plans – is one of the best starting points for talking about climate change. We as people love to tell and hear stories of how ‘we all came together…’ in the face of adversity; we make decisions based massively on whether enacting them will increase our sense of belonging; and regarding climate change issues specifically, people really like it when we talk in terms of ‘we’re all in this together, everyone doing their bit’. Before Christmas, I asked my Grandma what some of her favourite winter memories were. We reminisced about the depth that snowdrifts used to reach, and the story she chose to tell was my great-aunt Vera sledging off to ensure my grandfather’s produce got delivered to everyone when their village got cut off in the 50’s. Everyone doing their bit.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Every Single Cognitive Bias In One Infographic

Every Single Cognitive Bias In One Infographic

The human brain is capable of incredible things, but it’s also extremely flawed at times.

Science has shown that we tend to make all sorts of mental mistakes, called “cognitive biases”, that can affect both our thinking and actions. These biases, as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins points out, can lead to us extrapolating information from the wrong sources, seeking to confirm existing beliefs, or failing to remember events the way they actually happened!

To be sure, this is all part of being human – but such cognitive biases can also have a profound effect on our endeavors, investments, and life in general. For this reason, today’s infographic from DesignHacks.co is particularly handy. It shows and groups each of the 188 known confirmation biases in existence.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

WHAT IS A COGNITIVE BIAS?

Humans tend to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from making rational judgments.

These tendencies usually arise from:

  • Information processing shortcuts
  • The limited processing ability of the brain
  • Emotional and moral motivations
  • Distortions in storing and retrieving memories
  • Social influence

Cognitive biases have been studied for decades by academics in the fields of cognitive science, social psychology, and behavioral economics, but they are especially relevant in today’s information-packed world. They influence the way we think and act, and such irrational mental shortcuts can lead to all kinds of problems in entrepreneurship, investing, or management.

COGNITIVE BIAS EXAMPLES

Here are four examples of how these types of biases can affect people in the business world:

Familiarity Bias: An investor puts her money in “what she knows”, rather than seeking the obvious benefits from portfolio diversification. Just because a certain type of industry or security is familiar doesn’t make it the logical selection.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 2

150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future – Serialisation Part 2

When we find ourselves in need of a miracle there is a simple formula that can be applied: “Don’t panic, take stock, and do the next logical thing.” If we apply this formula, hold our course and maintain a positive outlook, the white knight of providence may intercede on our behalf.

That is not to say that the relationship between action and consequence can be avoided. There is no magic wand for the absolution of a life of feckless excess. In the case of our collective consumption binge, we have brought about the sixth mass-extinction event (to add to the previous ones, which are evident in the Earth’s geologic record), we have created a shambolic financial system of gross imbalance, and we have allowed our culture to degrade so far that a figure as flawed as that of Donald Trump has been allowed to become a credible candidate for the position of the world’s supposedly most powerful person. It would be a long way back to some semblance of a reasonable equilibrium.

But we should not give up hope. If we work through our collective karma, we might find that there is the potential for regeneration.

As far as stoic perseverance in the face of testing circumstances is concerned, we are doing this part quite well. Panic levels are low. We have taken on board recent information about the extraordinary warming of our planet, the impending financial collapse and the degeneration of our systems of government into a total farce, and have just kept going. An eerie feeling of normalcy is being maintained without much effort.

However, we seem to be falling short in “taking stock.”
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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