Thursday, 25 of August of 2016

Kenneth E. Boulding – Ballad of Ecological Awareness

Kenneth Ewart Boulding (January 18, 1910 – March 18, 1993) was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher.

He was cofounder of General Systems Theory and founder of numerous ongoing intellectual projects in economics and social science.

…Boulding emphasized that human economic and other behavior is embedded in a larger interconnected system.

To understand the results of our behavior, economic or otherwise, we must first research and develop a scientific understanding of the ecodynamics of the general system, the global society in which we live, in all its dimensions spiritual and material.

Boulding believed that in the absence of a committed effort to the right kind of social science research and understanding, the human species might well be doomed to extinction.

But he died optimistic, believing our evolutionary journey had just begun. From Wiki

The cost of building dams is always underestimated
There’s erosion of the delta that the river has created,
There’s fertile soil below the dam that’s likely to be looted,
And the tangled mat of forest that has got to be uprooted.

There’s the breaking up of cultures with old haunts and habits loss,
There’s the education programme that just doesn’t come across,
And the wasted fruits of progress that are seldom much enjoyed
By expelled subsistence farmers who are urban unemployed.

There’s disappointing yield of fish, beyond the first explosion;
There’s silting up, and drawing down, and watershed erosion.
Above the dam the water’s lost by sheer evaporation;
Below, the river scours, and suffers dangerous alteration.

For engineers, however good, are likely to be guilty
Of quietly forgetting that a river can be silty,
While the irrigation people too are frequently forgetting
That water poured upon the land is likely to be wetting.

Then the water in the lake, and what the lake releases,
Is crawling with infected snails and water-borne diseases.
There’s a hideous locust breeding ground when water level’s low,
And a million ecologic facts we really do not know.

There are benefits, of course, which may be countable, but which
Have a tendency to fall into the pockets of the rich,
While the costs are apt to fall upon the shoulders of the poor.
So cost-benefit analysis is nearly always sure
To justify the building of a solid concrete fact,
While the Ecologic Truth is left behind in the Abstract.

Kenneth E. Boulding

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