meets the eye,
that are based
literacyTo understand how
nature sustains life, we need to
move from biology to ecology, because
sustained life is a property of an
ecosystem rather than a single organism or species.
Over billions of years of evolution, the Earth's
have evolved certain principles of organization to sustain the
web of life.
Knowledge of these
principles of organization,
or principles of
ecology, is what we mean by "ecological
In the coming decades, the survival of humanity will depend
on our ecological literacy
our ability to understand the basic
principles of ecology and to live accordingly.
This means that ecoliteracy must become a critical skill for
politicians, business leaders, and professionals in
all spheres, and should be the most important part of
education at all levels from primary
and secondary schools to colleges, universities, and the continuing education
and training of professionals.
We need to
teach our children, our students, and our
corporate and political leaders, the fundamental facts of life that one
species' waste is another species' food;
that matter cycles continually through the web of life; that the energy driving
the ecological cycles flows from the sun; that
diversity assures resilience;
that life, from its beginning more than three billion years ago, did not take
over the planet by combat but by networking.
these principles of ecology are closely
They are just different
aspects of a single fundamental
pattern of organization
that has enabled nature to sustain life for
billions of years.
Nature sustains life by creating and
No individual organism can
Animals depend on the photosynthesis of
plants for their energy needs; plants depend on the carbon dioxide produced by
animals, as well as on the nitrogen fixed by bacteria at their roots; and
together plants, animals, and microorganisms regulate the entire biosphere and
maintain the conditions
conducive to life.
Sustainability is not an
but a property of
an entire web of
Sustainability always involves
This is the profound lesson we need to learn from
The way to sustain life is to build and
A sustainable human community interacts with
other communities human and nonhuman
in ways that enable them
to live and develop according to their nature.
Sustainability does not
mean that things do not change.
It is a dynamic process of co-evolution
rather than a static state.
The fact that ecological sustainability is a
property of a web of relationships means that in
order to understand it properly, in order to become
ecologically literate, we need to learn
how to think in terms of
symbiotic relationships, in terms of
interconnections, patterns of
this type of thinking is
known as systemic thinking or "systems thinking."
It is crucial for
understanding ecology, because
ecology derived from the Greek word
oikos ("household") is the science of relationships among the various members of the
Systems thinking emerged from a series of
among biologists, psychologists, and
ecologists, in the 1920s and '30s.
In all these fields, scientists
realized that a living system organism, ecosystem, or social system
is an integrated whole whose properties cannot be reduced to those
of smaller parts.
The "systemic" properties are properties of the
whole, which none of its parts have.
involves a shift of perspective
from the parts to the whole.
The early systems thinkers
coined the phrase, "The whole is more than the sum of its parts."
exactly does this mean?
In what sense is the whole more than the sum of
The answer is: relationships.
essential properties of a living system
depend on the relationships among the
Systems thinking means
thinking in terms of relationships.
Understanding life requires a
shift of focus from objects to
Each species in an
ecosystem helps to sustain the entire food web.
If one species is
decimated by some natural catastrophe, the ecosystem will still be resilient if
there are other species that can fulfill similar functions.
The stability of an ecosystem depends on its biodiversity,
complexity of its network of relationships.
This is how we can
understand stability and resilience by understanding the
relationships within the ecosystem.
Understanding relationships runs
counter of the traditional scientific enterprise in Western culture.
In science, we have been told, things need to be measured and weighed.
Relationships cannot be measured and
weighed; relationships need to
So there is another
shift: from measuring to mapping.
In biology, a recent dramatic example
of this shift happened in the Human Genome Project.
acutely aware that, in order to
understand the functioning of genes it is not enough to know their sequence on
the DNA; we need to be able to also map their mutual
relationships and interactions.
when you map relationships, you will find
certain configurations that occur repeatedly.
This is what we call a pattern.
Networks, cycles, feedback loops, are examples of
patterns of organization that are
characteristic of Life.
Systems thinking involves a shift of perspective from
contents to patterns.
thinking implies a shift from quantity to quality.
pattern is verified through a
visual image .
The study of
relationships concerns not only the
relationships among the system's components,
but also those between the system as a whole and surrounding larger
Those relationships between
the system and its environment are
what we mean by context.
The shape of a plant, or the colors of a bird,
depend on their environment
on the vegetation, climate, etc. and also on
the evolutionary history of the species,
on the historical context.
Systems thinking is always
Systems thinking implies a
to contextual knowledge.
need to understand that living form is more than a shape,
more than a
static configuration of components in a whole.
There is a continual
flow of matter through a living system, while its form is maintained;
is development, and there is evolution.
The understanding of living
structure is inextricably linked to the
understanding of metabolic and
Systems thinking includes a
shift of emphasis from structure to process.
shifts of emphasis are really just different ways of saying the same thing.
Systems thinking means
a shift of perception from
material objects and structures to the
nonmaterial processes and patterns of
organization that represent the very essence of
Ph.D., physicist, systems theorist, founding director of
the Center for
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The international corporate cartel already controls the world central banking
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complex and is responsible for the collapse of morals, the elevation of
self-centered behavior and the destruction of global ecosystems. Civilization
is based on cooperation. Cooperation does not occur at the point of a
American social mores and values have declined precipitously over
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through mass media by pressing emotional buttons which have been preprogrammed
into the population through prior mass media psychological operations. The
results have been the destruction of the family and the destruction of social
structures that do not adhere to the corrupt international elites vision of
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