Why does a river look like a tree?



This video from Duke University speaks to just one aspect of a whole article at TreeHugger today. I am captivated by the Constructal Design Theory and the concept of flow. Being a fan of nature's fractals, I want to pursue this further.

Added . . . My own impression of the male approach to climate change and peak oil is skewed towards technology. This has been discussed in some probing posts by Sharon at Casauban's Book. As a rule I am not on board with technical solutions - but of late I am seeing how vital it is to incorporate the technical, engineered world into sustainability conversations. If for nothing else, to avoid overly simplistic approaches, like the "either or" arguments that I believe have destroyed national media as viable information sources.

12 comments:

Ecogeek said...

Your point about tech reminds me of Colin Beavan's tendency to point out that he favors neither individual efforts to use less energy, nor technological advancements to improve energy efficiency, simply because neither one alone is anywhere near enough to solve the problem. But both together just might.

Have you seen this talk by William McDonough? I started to write a really long paragraph about how it relates to something you wrote, but decided it's cool enough to just link on its own; plus this way my comment is less rambling and terrible. 8^)

katecontinued said...

Ecogeek, look around. There's nobody here but you and me and a vast wasteland looking for thriving words. You may ramble and roam as your heart leads you. I would be delighted.

katecontinued said...

I love this TED talk. Having worked within the world of architecture for 25 years, my favorite line (paraphrased) was: humility and architect have not appeared together in a sentence since "The Fountainhead."

I must confess that I only listed Sharon's recent post because of laziness. I do indeed remember that many others have spoken to this theme of technology (and the boyz' ├╝ber focus there). I remember my first exposure to William McDonough was through Colin Beavan's back and forth with him in the spring of 2007 (when I first learned of this sustainability movement).

Thanks, this was a good thing to hear again - especially first thing this morning as I need some inspiration for a community project.

Ecogeek said...

Well alright, you asked for it.

Your comment about 'either-or-ness' echoes (structurally at least) McDonough's comment in the talk about how realistically, environmental protection isn't about stewardship vs. dominion, because they're both implicit in each other: 'You can't dominate something that you've killed, and you can't be a steward of something if you can't dominate it.'

It resonated strongly with me, probably because I'm currently re-reading Derrick Jensen's A Language Older Than Words, and really made me think. Stewardship and dominion are really the only two paradigms you're allowed to push and be taken seriously. I believe very firmly that every plant and animal species, ecosystem, and indigenous society has inherent value, and has every right to live unmolested by our dominant culture, and that the best course for us is to rediscover what it means to be part of the natural world rather than above it. But, according to those who make the rules, that's not an argument. It is at best something to let wash over your brain for a brief moment before discarding it and getting back to the Serious Business of "managing natural resources." And that simple fact, I think, is one very powerful (simply by virtue of its being completely invisible) force that keeps us from being able to have a productive discussion on environmental protection.

Anonymous said...

i recently read of the similarities between nature and lungs in david suzuki's book The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. thanks for the duke university link in your post and i'll also check out the ted video on McDonough.
becky

katecontinued said...

Loved the line . . .But, according to those who make the rules, that's not an argument. It is at best something to let wash over your brain for a brief moment before discarding it and getting back to the Serious Business of "managing natural resources." Well said and I agree with you completely. Looks like Derrick Jensen's A Language Older Than Words is one for the must read list.

katecontinued said...

And David Suzuki's The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature is another to add to the list. Thanks.

Ecogeek said...

I cannot recommend Jensen's book strongly enough, though it must also come with a trigger warning. A Language Older Than Words is at once a memoir of a harrowingly abusive childhood, and a critique of our dominant culture and the atrocities it continues to commit. In it, he ties together the threads of his experience growing up in an abusive household, and the experiences all of us have growing up as part of this culture. I have never read a book that was more depressing or more uplifting. It reads like a wheel - in turns, it grinds you into the dirt, pushing your nose into the ugliest parts of what this culture has made of us; and lifts you up into the heavens with lighthearted or fully inspiring passages that remind us, it doesn't have to be this way.

It's something I feel simply must be read. But, probably not when you're feeling down to begin with. Fair warning.

katecontinued said...

Thank you for the insight and the warning.

Rosa said...

Now I need to read it, Ecogeek.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how much the reactions of some people I know to abused childhoods or a history of rape informs their experience of activism later - specifically, of whether a history of sexual abuse factors into the number of women I know who didn't breastfeed because it was embarrassing, and of how terrible arrest is for people with PTSD, and how I've never been in a movement that recognized that when planning tactics (all the discussion is about morals and ethics and tactics, nothing about the individual needs of participants) and if that's machismo or not.

I don't think you're alone in thinking the key is freedom from the overculture, but you're right about how little lip service it ever gets.

katecontinued said...

I wondered if reader Rosa might not appear. Welcome. I think you both have piqued my interest.

Rosa said...

I'm always here, I just don't always have anything to say :)