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Media Type: Article - Foundational
Date of Publication: February 22
Year of Publication: 2010
Publisher: Wiley Online Library
Author(s): Jack Harich
Journal: System Dynamics Review
Volume: 26, Issue 1
This paper seeks to help solve the global environmental sustainability problem by approaching it from a novel and possibly more effective perspective. Instead of beginning with the usual “What are the proper practices needed to live sustainably? How can we get them adopted?” we ask a radically different question: “Why, despite over 30 years of prodigious effort, has the human system failed to solve the environmental sustainability problem?”
Why, despite over 30 years of prodigious effort, has the human system failed to solve the environmental sustainability problem? Decomposing the problem into two sequential sub-problems, (1) how to overcome change resistance and (2) how to achieve proper coupling, opens up a fresh line of attack. A simulation model shows that in problems of this type the social forces favoring resistance will adapt to the forces favoring change. If change resistance is high this adaptation response either prevents proper coupling from ever being achieved or delays it for a long time. From this we conclude that systemic change resistance is the crux of the problem and must be solved first. An example of how this might be done is presented.
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