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“The messages from the ice [core studies] are strikingly clear: stable climate is a myth.  The Gaia into which our species emerged is a wild, complex dynamic being, subject to sudden shifts between multiple semi-stable states.  At this time in her long life, small disturbances can ramify through her vast body, growing larger and larger through positive feedback ….  There are tipping points beyond which climate can suddenly transmute from benign to deadly, and there is no good reason for us to bask in the complacent idea that our emissions of greenhouse gases will warm the planet gradually – that we will have time to adapt.  It is far more likely that we will trigger abrupt, catastrophic climate changes that will push Gaia into a new hot state unsuitable for many of her life forms, including ourselves.”

– Stephan Harding, Animate Earth :  Science, Intuition & Gaia

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“The only certain thing about this coming century is it’s immense uncertainty. The great temptation of our time will be the impulse to flee from this uncertainty.  Given the black-and-white propensity of Western minds, it will take conscious effort to resist taking refuge either in despair – in the conviction that ‘it’s too late’ – or in the alternative, to bask in groundless, sunny optimism that ‘we’ll figure out something, because science always does.’  I have heard a great deal said about the importance of hope as the human prospect has grown darker, but hope will sustain us only if it is clear-eyed.  In reflecting about cultural traps that have made past societies incapable of meeting the challenge of changing  circumstances, the anthropologist Paul Bohannan asks, ‘Have they at least figured out some of the things they should not do? Or are they running on blind hope?  That kind of hope kills.’  I don’t think we have figured it out.   I fear blind hope as much as despair … In times of danger, bitter truths serve us better than sweet lies.”

– Diane Dumanoski  - The End of the Long Summer :
Why We Must Remake Civilization to Live on a Volatile Earth

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“What, in this situation, needs to be done first?  This is a question about priorities.  And the key to it is perhaps clearest in the image that I used earlier of an ocean liner which is beginning to sink – only (as we explain) not at our end…. Of course it is understandable that we do not see the planetary danger.  Other, more immediate evils constantly demand our attention.  Conditions on the terrestrial ship are bad in a thousand ways and endless things need to be done about them.  But if the ship sinks, curing those evils will not be much help.  The message is not that we should value the health of the earth above human needs.  It is that these are not alternatives.  Without a healthy earth, humans cannot survive anyway.”

– Mary Midgley, Gaia: The Next Big Idea

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Introduction

This site – which includes evolving pages and a blog – describes the educational program developed by me - Alder Stone Fuller- about ‘system sciences’, including Earth System Science or my preferred term, geophysiology.  The system sciences are a set of principles offering a deep understanding – both rational, intuitive and experiential – of complex, dynamical networks or systems on scales from molecular and cellular to organisms (like you) and societies to Earth’s metabolism and homeostasis, that I sometimes call Ermah, what some – notably James Lovelock, the late Lynn Margulis (my friend and greatest mentor), Stephen Harding, Dianne Dumanoski and Mary Midgley – call Gaia.  I do not shy from that name, either, but some in our culture – notably academics and religious people, oddly – do not like it because of its (the name, not the entity) mythical origins.

To be clear, this site – and all of my work – is about science, not religion nor new age mysticism.  Yet these are not the standard ‘mechanistic’ sciences of the last 300 years that portrayed nature as a ‘machine’ to be controlled for human benefit.  Instead, they are new sciences – though often formalizing ancient ideas or principles – that have emerged via the work of leading scientists, including Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine’s non-equilibrium thermodynamics, Benoit Mandelbrot’s fractals, Edward Lorenz’s butterfly effects, Stephen Wolfram’s new kind of science, theories of emergence and autopoiesis, Lynn Margulis’s symbiogenesis, and James Lovelock’s Gaia theory.   They offer simple yet elegant and awe-inspiring insights into life, Earth and the nature of reality itself – I’m talking space, time, matter and energy – on scales ranging from quanta to the cosmos.

This site is a collection of writings to help people understand these concepts, and to begin to replace our outdated and dangerous mechanistic world views with new ones grounded in the system sciences.   It is currently evolving in a way that reflects major changes – upgrades – in my professional life, including a new company that will:

  • offer my 30+ introductory and advanced courses and seminars about systems, life, geosciences – especially geophysiology – climate, adaptability, survival and bushcraft
  • educate others about how to teach those courses
  • produce a DVD with videos, essays, imagery, art and music
  • offer a means for me two write a book or two

Please check back often, and thank you for your patience and support.

Please contact me with questions or inquiries.

Alder Stone

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