Events Matter...


While a great number of Events have been recorded by humans, in histories, chronicles, etc., keeping time has been a task that only a few cultures have done well. For example, the most sophisticated calender known, before the nuclear age might just surprise you.

It is a large stone that is quite precise.

Often, early histories or chronicles may hold only tax records, or occasional tales of conquest, etc. They are in many languages, and pose a great puzzle, as time is not always kept in comparable fashion, or with regard to common references. In one of my favorite studies, that of the science of human lineages and relationships, Professor Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University uses biochemical genetics, with its presumed clocks, and language affinities (temporal interchanges) to provide the basis for constructing a human "family tree".

The earliest clocks (astrolabes) originated in Greece in the period about 250BC. In the 8th and 9th Centuries, astrolabes were introduced into Islamic society. The astrolabe was inherently valuable in Islam because of its ability to determine the time of day and, therefore, prayer times and as an aid in finding the direction to Mecca. It must also be noted that astrology was a deeply imbedded element of early Islamic culture and that astrology was one of the principle uses of the astrolabe.

The combination of Time keeping, and Record keeping left us various histories. These many documents, in their many forms, provide us with what little we know about ancients, and their coping with Events... "Tempus Fugit - and Shit Keeps Happening"


Each "Disaster" is Another Opportunity.



I often have used the analogy of "the plow" when referring to major seismic events, or climatic events in the ocean - or on the land. It is clear that the Earth's ecosystems are pushed to greater productivity after each event occurs, whatever its manifestations. This increased productivity - or throughput - in fact, can be measured in many ways. My colleague Robert Ulanowicz calls these ecological responses changes in ascendancy, as measured by increased over-all energetic throughput, often by more numerous, but often smaller components.

Hormesis is a venerable concept built upon a broad spectrum of empirical measures of the effects of sublethal exposures to various toxins, or many environmental stressors, on organisms ranging from bacteria, to hot-house flowers, to feed lots, to human settlements. The principle responses are enhanced early development, enhanced growth or mobility, early maturation, and as long as the stressor is sublethal, even prolonged life. "Hormesis is the production of beneficial effects in a population at low exposures and adverse effects at high exposures to a given chemical, or more generally, the effects produced at high exposures are the inverse or apparent inverse of those produced at low exposures."

The Catastrophic Event has numerous side-effects in modern societal contexts. For example, were one to count up the subsequent economic interactions for several years following many large earth quakes, or floods, and compare the total to the sum of a similar period's economic transactions prior to that event, it would likely be found that the result was a greater overall cash flow than before (this is an analogy to hormesis) - unless there was complete "abandonment of the field" - as the costs were estimated and got weighed versus the benefits. The ruins of old civilizations are reminders of similar decisions.

Ironically, equilibrated, stable ecosystems tend toward lethargic monotony without relatively frequent stimulation from disruptive physical forcing, e.g., a rain forest without strong, dependable seasonality is much less productive. Human efforts to "Engineer" rain forest waterways in order to minimize flooding - would leave a rain forest without fishes to eat their fruit, and unable to carry the seeds back up into the watershed. The rain forest will simply wither away. There are specific dynamics that define each ecosystem.

"Equilibrium" analogies and objectives have often been invoked within the recent historical period to accommodate many theoretical developments, arguably as a consequence of "scientific thinking" resulting in applications that were attainable since Hero constructed his "steam toy". Some 1800 years later, "lunatic" physicists and entrepreneurs discovered that energy is conserved... and that it can be harnessed to do "work".

The BIG Question remains... Is it moot that humans are squandering unique life forms and the energy stores accumulated over many hundreds of millions to billions of years, and setting 'free' the 'waste' bound up within these complexes, in the form of Greenhouse gases? Is this not the perfect "Feedback Loop" that can bring this "wondrous big brain" life form back under control so that the greater system might evolve?


Oh, the IRONY of It All !!!