Posted on December 1, 2014 @ 07:34:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I have started to read a book by Howard T. Odum called
Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology (1983).
I'm reading it because 1) I'm interested in systems theory generally, and 2) Howard Odum is often cited as having inspired the founders of Permaculture, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, and I wanted to examine one of his books to see why. I'm taking an online Permaculture course and want to examine it's foundations more. Howard wrote many books, some I believe were meant for the general public. This is not one of them. So far the most remarkable feature of the book is the density of diagrams throughout. The book is 643 pages long and it is hard to believe that a person could produce so many detailed diagrams for a book. Many of these diagrams use his special energy circuit language the main elements of which are depicted in the energese diagram below.
The book is slow going at first as you learn the energese language and start seeing examples of it being used. The idea is to use these basic symbols to describe all kinds of processes, transactions, and systems in an energy-circuit-based language that consists of drawing various links and arrows from one type of energese symbol to another.
In this diagram the "system" is what is inside the bordered box. The inflows or forcing functions go into the system from outside the box and always dissipates some energy through a bottom energy sink symbol on the diagram. Energy is lost in the transaction as required by the second law of thermodynamics. This diagram depicts everything being lost in various thermodynamic energy transformations but often there are outputs from the system besides just heat or lost energy. It all depends on what you want to box into your analysis and what you want to leave outside of its scope.
I'm on chapter three dealing with "Storage and Flow" now so my goal is to finish that chapter today (20 pages) and browse around the rest of the book some more. There are some general nuggets of wisdom in this book that I hope to share with you this week. Doing so might end up requiring the use of the energese language so I'm introducing that today.
Some music that gave me some energese over the weekend was Matt May's song Ain't that the Truth from his album Coyote which won Rock Album of the Year 2014 at the Juno Music Awards.