Week 2

In Donella H. Meadows’s book “Thinking in Systems: A Primer,” she presents her analysis on systems. In the introduction and first chapter, Meadows dissects systems into elements, interconnections, function, and feedback to offer a better understanding of the mechanics behind systems. Her overall goal is to promote “system-thinking” and to encourage creativity and system redesign.  She states that although systems are often resilient and evolutionary, a new and improved system can form.  From the readings, her explanation of “stocks” and “flows,” as well as “reinforcing feedback loops,” really resonated with me.  Meadows explains how there are a means for regulating levels in “stocks” by manipulating “flows.” She points out that if the outflows surpass inflows that the stock will consequently plunge and that the plunge is a result from lack of consideration about outflows.  Meadows reveals that feedback loops are brutal cycles in which the ability to reproduce leads to an exponential growth or reduction.

This reminds me of a video viewed in class, “The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water” by the Surfrider Foundation. The current procedures for recovering and transporting water are aggressively diminishing drinkable water supply. For example, the video mentions how aquifers are being used four times faster than they can be replaced. As meadows had stated, there is a lack of consideration regarding outflows. For instance, garbage disposal via drains and street runoff via sewers results in polluted water being discharged into local bodies of water. This in turn, results in a diminishing supply of clean water, because water becomes more difficult to treat and filter. Reducing water consumption and utilizing low impact design will pave the way to a new and improved water system.


Thinking in Systems

The Cycle of Insanity

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