The effects of imposing eradications and dismantlements

upon multiple functioning components of complex systems and
their potential implications

Five Thought - Experiments
Thresholds - Planetary boundaries - Tipping-points?

Potential implications?
Systems failures?
Hubris?
Collapse?

Albert Einstein

Just as Albert Einstein once utilized
“thought-experiments” to help clarify
questions and concepts in his areas of
study,

we will consider here
five brief thought-experiments
to help contemplate and assess

our planet’s functioning biospheric machinery and its
limited population “carrying capacity” for humans.

The Question to be Tested
Exactly how much damage, wastes, obliterations, and eradications can be
inflicted upon ANY functioning complex system and expect that system to
continue to function as it has always done in the past?

Most people readily understand that
“supplies of food” or “water” or
“resources” might impose limits to the
size of a population.

In this presentation, however, we are going to consider several thoughtexperiments that underscore other real-world “limiting factors” – that are at least
as dangerous and important – but which are less instinctively appreciated.

Earth’s planetary carrying
capacity , for example, is not
solely a matter of
‘running-out-of’ suppositions

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ut-of ’
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‘run
es
such as er, or resourc
w at
o o d, o r

Biospheric and functioning natural systems, for
example, have limits
to the degrees of eradications, damage, and wastes that
they can suffer and still continue to function

Simply posing the
question instantly
triggers insights into Earth
systems which comprise

the only planetary life-support machinery
so far known to exist anywhere in the universe

Imagine, for instance, large-scale eradications of
the multiple and complex interacting systems of
a space vehicle,
or an automobile,
or an airplane,
or a computer system,
or the

multiple body systems
of a vertebrate organism?

Thought – Experiment Number One
Let us begin by trying to imagine a team of
astronauts in a space vehicle if they were to
…cannibalize 95% of their navigation and propulsion systems,
…degrade 87% of their CO2 scrubbers,
…destroy 93% of their heat shields,
…delete 77% of their computer codes,
…89% of their oxygen production systems,
along with 81% of their waste recycling and water-purification capabilities,

and a random evisceration of multiple other
portions of their craft's life-support machinery.

No rational astronauts, of course, would ever
dream of inflicting such damage

upon the vehicle that sustains their lives in space

Thought – Experiment Number Two
Suppose that an individual destroys, dismantles, and eradicates
70-80-90% of the complex interacting systems of his automobile
e.g. - …73% of the steering,

…89% of the carburetor,
…91% of the transmission,
…79% of the electrical,
…85% of the brakes,
…67% of the tires,
…50% of the axles,
…94% of the spark plugs
etc.
it?

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This is

going

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to wo r

Our reason for bringing this up, of course, is that the
‘vehicle’ that we are treating this way today is our planet

Thought – Experiment Number Two
Unfortunately, other impacts
are also occurring At the same time, this individual also simultaneously (each day) adds
more and more (and ever-accumulating) contaminants to his vehicle’s
…radiator,
…brake and transmission fluid
…battery,
…engine oil,
and

…gasoline

And then suppose that this individual cannot understand why
his automobile, which "has always worked in the past,"

doesn't function anymore…

Not so bright, is he?

Do we know anyone who seems to treat
the only planetary life-support machinery
so far known to exist anywhere in the universe
in a similar way?

No rational astronauts would ever dream of inflicting such
damage upon the vehicle that sustains their lives in space,

and the rest of us would never dream of
inflicting such damage upon our automobiles.

But we somehow seem to suppose that we can inflict such damage

upon the ONLY
planetary
life-support machinery
so far known to exist
anywhere in the universe

and to assume that it should unfailingly continue to
function as it has always done in the past

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Thought – Experiment Number Three

Contemplating biophysical and functional limits to Earth’s
planetary Carrying Capacity
- an airplane analogy as a thought-experiment In this “thought-experiment” we will employ an airplane analogy to contemplate the
effects and implications of massive, planetary-scale eradications, damage, and wastes.
manity
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Thought – Experiment Number Three

Suppose that you and your family are boarding an
airplane for a long trip and that the plane is full
Suppose in this initial situation that we
imagine a plane that has enough
(almost, at least)
food and fuel and resources
for its passengers,
but another problem begins to assert itself that
seriously threatens both safety and survival

Thought – Experiment Number Three
As your flight proceeds, you notice that all of the passengers are, to some extent,
physically-removing or damaging ever-increasing portions of the plane itself
e.g. - engine,
wings,
fuselage,
fuel pumps,
navigation,
electrical
windows
steering,
etc.
… and some economic entities are conducting vast and rapid
dismantlements on a vehicle-wide and industrialized scale

Thought – Experiment Number Three

Contemplating these activities
causes us to ask:
What

percentage

of the plane’s complex and interacting component parts can be
endlessly (and cumulatively) removed and
still continue to function?

Our reason for bringing this up, of course, is that the
‘vehicle’ that we are treating this way today is our planet

Thought – Experiment Number Three
What if the passengers and economic activities combined remove
70 - 80 - 90% of multiple systems?
Or of all , many, or most
such systems?
Or of even one such system?

Thought – Experiment Number Three
Suppose that some intelligent passengers become worried and
initiate and promote vehicle-wide conservation programs
And their efforts seek to fully protect and preserve
at least 10% samplings
of as many of the plane’s parts and components as possible

Thought – Experiment Number Three

The problem, of course, is that
goals of 10% conservation
contemplate (and may conceivably
permit) 90% destruction

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This isn

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Thought – Experiment Number Three
Suppose that their goals envision
fusel
e
h
t
f
0% o
1
g
n
i
v
…sa

age

… fourteen

percent of
the cabin …

… a nine percent sample of three engine parts …
and
… twelve percent sample sections from one wing …

Our reason for bringing this up, of course, is that the
‘vehicle’ that we are treating this way today is our planet

Thought – Experiment Number Three

Notice that not only does this thought-experiment
powerfully argue that 10% conservation goals are not
enough
But also that even seemingly - small
percentage dismantlements in some components
might trigger calamitous
and irreversible outcomes

Our reason for bringing this up, of course, is that the
entity that we are treating this way today is our planet

Which is home to the ONLY planetary life-support machinery

so far known to exist anywhere in the universe

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Thought – Experiment Number Four
Saving 10% samples of complexly-interacting
anatomical and physiological vertebrate systems

Thought – Experiment Number Four
Imagine that medical providers in your local hospital decide that
rising medical costs force them to alter their standards of care

Thought – Experiment Number Four

As a result, they develop new protocols that focus on a
less-costly program of setting aside and conserving
representative

10% samplings

of each patient’s component body parts and systems

Thought – Experiment Number Four
For individual patients, these new economically-induced protocols
may not ensure a complete cure for his or her disease (which is too costly)

Thought – Experiment Number Four
But will instead attempt to save, where possible, various 8, 9, or 10%
representative samplings of the patient’s body parts such as
half an artery and one third of a vein,
some white blood cells,
a portion of one elbow ,
9% from one of the shoulder blades,
part of one eyelid,
a portion of one earlobe,
12% of the spinal cord,
and

one of the heart chambers
This isn’t going to work out so well is it?

Thought – Experiment Number Four
In addition, the new policies will also endeavor to save, where
possible, additional small representative samplings of the patient’s
pancreas ,
knee,
brain ,
muscles ,
kidneys ,
hair follicles,
and

connective tissue

Obviously, an intelligent person would immediately realize
the inadequacy of such an approach - right?

Notice that “saving” tiny samples of
each of these tissues offers
no assurance whatsoever that the individual, person, or
organism itself will continue to function

Clearly, in a space vehicle setting,
or involving one’s automobile,
or on an airplane, or in a
hospital, we immediately see
the calamitous, mistaken, and non-cautious nature of such foolishlypermissive policies of eradications, damage, wastes, and dismantlements.

Yet these seem to be precisely the policies that we are applying to our
planet and its functioning systems which comprise the only planetary
life-support machinery so far known to exist anywhere in the universe

Do we, therefore, know
anyone who seems to treat
the only
planetary life-support machinery
so far known to exist
anywhere in the universe

in a similar way?

No rational astronauts would ever dream of inflicting such
damage upon the vehicle that sustains their lives in space,

and the rest of us would never dream of
inflicting such damage upon our automobiles.

But we somehow seem to suppose that we can inflict such damage

upon the ONLY
planetary
life-support machinery
so far known to exist
anywhere in the universe

and to assume that it should unfailingly continue to
function as it has always done in the past

Several additional thoughts concerning

Thought – Experiment Number Four

It is not an exact analogy, of course, but think of the moist
tropical forests functioning as the “lungs of the world.”

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Thought – Experiment Number Four

Is saving one lung and one kidney enough?
If we were to save 10% of a person’s lung tissues
and destroy the remaining 90%,
could we reasonably expect the person to even survive,
much less to continue to function normally?

Thought – Experiment Number Four

One lung would amount to 50% and one kidney is 50%.
Is that sufficient to maintain even a
suboptimal level of physiological function?

Or does a 50% loss of each system constitute
a new and highly precarious condition?

Thought – Experiment Number Four
Is it sufficient if we save some
of the endocrine glands?
If a person loses one lung and one kidney
and half of their endocrine glands,
what happens to their
overall prognosis?

Thought – Experiment Number Four

We probably need to save at least fifty
percent of Earth’s natural systems
and to the extent that the
above analogies hold,
that fifty percent may not be enough.

Thought – Experiment Number Five

Remember our airplane analogy?
Suppose that we slightly alter it as follows….

Thought – Experiment Number Five
Suppose that you and your family are boarding
an airplane for a long trip,
and you
notice a line
of more
and more
and more
and more
passengers

endlessly boarding your flight
and crowding onto your plane

Thought – Experiment Number Five

This begins to become quite unsettling, of course – since things like
airplanes - ( and elevators and buses and bridges and planets ) - have

carrying capacities
which are limits to their abilities to accommodate passengers,
or damages, wastes, weights, loads, and eradications, etc.

and still continue to function

Thought – Experiment Number Five

Almost all pilots and aeronautical engineers, for instance, would immediately recognize
that there are limits to the numbers and combined weights of all the plane’s passengers,
luggage, contents, and damages and wastes that their vehicles can accommodate.

Thought – Experiment Number Five

Remember that your family is on your plane with you and it is
a very long trip and you are aboard the ONLY such passenger
vehicle known to exist anywhere in the universe?
Would you sit in silence and allow the ravaging and
dismantlement to proceed without interruption?

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PowerPoints collection
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For more information on this, see this ppt and/or this pdf

For more information on this, see this ppt and/or this pdf

For more in
formation
on this,
see this pp
t and/or
this pdf

PowerPoints and Executive summary pdfs for
academia and policymakers are accessible here

Workshop PowerPoints and
pdf Executive summaries are
accessible here

Did you know that the Captain and Officers of the passenger liner Titanic
received six separate and specific warnings of ice during the 24 hours
preceding their ship’s collision with the iceberg that sank it?

ey do
h
t
d
i
d
hat
And w

?

They went ahead and sailed their ship and
its passengers right into the iceberg