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Vol. 3, No. 11, November 2007

Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

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Editor's Note: The invited article this month is contributed by Leslaw Michnowski, a member of the Committee for Futures Studies "Poland 2000 Plus," Polish Academy of Sciences. In this paper, which is a synopsis of his recently published book on his vision for a sustainable development process "with a human face," he identifies the ingredients that will be required to assure a future for humanity and the human habitat. The reader is warned that this paper is not intended for casual, easy reading. Michnowski's intent is to define the information/knowledge infrastructure that will be required, the technologies to be used, and the principles of solidarity and social justice to be adhered to, in order to face the inevitable global crises now emerging as a consequence of the pervasive human misbehavior, socially and environmentally, triggered by (most recently) the industrial revolution. The reader will notice the congruence between this article and some of the issues and concerns discussed in page 1. The vision presented here is one that shows the need for a global transition toward a new order of things, one in which technology and other resources are used to balance individual interests with the common good. It is shown that it is a feasible vision, one that can be achieved if the humans who populate the planet make a decision to overcome obsolete mindsets that seek the accumulation of wealth and power as the only path to "happiness." The impending global crisis may trigger a sequence of events that forces making such decisions in the midst of turmoil and much suffering. Let us pray and work for a transition from homo economicus to homo solidarius. It may be painful, but it can be peaceful. This is the path of truth, freedom, and care; the path toward a better world for our children and grandchildren. This is the only path of sure hope.

Eco-Humanism and Popular System Dynamics as
Preconditions for Sustainable Development

Leslaw Michnowski
Member, Committee for Futures Studies "Poland 2000 Plus,"
Polish Academy of Sciences
Professor of Management, Saint Cross University, Kielce, Poland

Keywords: global crisis, sustainable development, feedback, feedforward, economic planning, ecosystem management, social change, political science, interdisciplinary research, System Dynamics

Copyright © 2007 Leslaw Michnowski



This article is an overview of a book by the author: "VISION OF A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SOCIETY – THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD FROM THE CYBERNETICIST PERSPECTIVE” (in Polish), published by Polish Academy of Sciences, Committee for Futures Studies "Poland 2000 Plus", Warsaw, Poland, 2006. This book contains his conclusions from many years of research on the current global crisis. This definitive work is based on the author’s System of Life evidence-based model that couples the realities of globalization and information technology with the urgent need to identify and analyze the conditions for transitioning the worldwide human community toward a new worldwide civilization that uses information and knowledge for sustainable development and, in particular, sustainable human development.


1. Basic notions
2. General summary
3. Information basis of sustainable development transformation
4. International sustainable development information research program –
for life in the State of Change/Flux and Risk
5. Sustainable development and the global crisis in the System of Life (SoL) view
5.1. Conclusions based on conceptual systems analysis
5.2. Elements of the SoL conceptual model
5.2.1. The basic SoL axioms
5.2.2. The basic SoL life-systems properties
5.3. Why do we need sustainable development instead of steady state?
5.4. Phases of life-system development
5.5. Sustainable development information conditions
5.6. Fundamental stages of sustainable development
6. Conclusions
7. List of acronyms
8. Notes and bibliography

1. Basic notions

1.1 Eco-humanism: a partnership-based co-operation for the common good of all people (rich and poor, from countries highly developed and behind in development), their descendants, and the natural environment - COMMONLY SUPPORTED BY SCIENCE AND HIGH TECHNOLOGY.

1.2 Forms of life (life-forms): social relations, axiology (dominant values), economics, technology, diet, medicine, infrastructure, etc.

1.3 Conditions of life (life-conditions): state of socio-economic and natural environment, including natural resources accessibility, natural environment quality, intellectual-, science-technology- and war- potential level, etc.

1.4 Obsolete/moral destruction (of life-forms): such form of life-forms destruction, that is caused by means of changes in life-conditions. As a result of it, physically not destructed life-form has not ability in new life-conditions to support/aid life of society.

1.5 Feedforward control subsystem (feedforward): society life-process control subsystem, that is based on predictions of approaching life-conditions and allow to shape policy of adopting life-forms to these new life-conditions with help of knowledge about probable future results of policy, i.e. in the pre-emptive way.

1.6 State of Change/Flux and Risk (SCR): quite new humanity life-state, that arouses mainly as a result of science-technology progress and emerges out of big inertia socio-economy structures. The changes in environment (in large sense) are pacing so rapidly that only feedback control principle based social relations are obsolete/moral destructed. For life in SCR we need to add into world social relations feedforward control mechanism. It means necessity to base politics on pre-emptive development principle. Because future is not fully predictable, therefore such politics will be connected with big risk of political faults.

1.7 Sustainable development: such form of society development (that part of its life-process, when quality of society is growing up), that is not interrupted by crises, and necessity to build new forms of life (fitted to new life-conditions) on debris of old ones. In SCR sustainable development must be based on three pillars: social development, economy development and environment protection. 1

1.8 System of Life (SoL): complex system, in axiomatic way built by author conceptual model of different life-systems (other type complex systems), especially human societies and other systems: man (human) – technology (SMT). It reflects common static and dynamic properties of these systems.

2. General summary

To avoid a global catastrophe, we need wisdom-based growth and sustainable development of the world society.

From the System of Life point of view, wisdom is the ability to:

In order to overcome the global crisis, world society will have to achieve sustainable development 3 – it is development without cyclically returning disasters and the short-sighted construction of new forms of social, technology and/or economic life on the ruins of former life-forms. Sustainable development – which in a sustained way combines social development with economic development and environmental protection 4. To carry out the Millennium Development Goals 5 - together with sustained economic growth 6 - we need to get/create ability to cross/transcend limits to growth in a sustainable developmental way.

This will require human coexistence models that are qualitatively different from the present ones. The emergence of these new social models will be inter alia pre-condition of the transformation, of the rapid economic and civilization growth of societies which until recently were behind in their development, into a driving force of world society’s sustainable development.

The World is in crisis. We are exploiting our natural resources of minerals and fuels faster than we are gaining access to alternative sources. We are polluting the natural environment and soil faster than the environment can regenerate itself to reach the level suitable for human needs. We are changing also the Earth’s climate and probably the electromagnetic field unwisely, in a dangerous way. Moreover, access to these valuable resources is fast becoming the object of war (even if fought with modern-day, often invisible, means). This situation is complicated also due to demographic expansion, especially in those parts of the human family that are lagging in their development.

We are living nowadays/currently in quite new situation: in the State of Change/Flux and Risk (SCR). The changes in the life-conditions are proceeding very fast with the development of science and technology. Obsolescing/getting obsolete/out-datedness - moral degradation - of the existing forms of life is currently going on faster than new forms, consistent with new life-conditions of humans and/or nature, are being introduced. To live in this quite new life-state we have to get ability to develop in an anticipatory way. To eliminate, in SCR, negative moral/obsolete destruction effects – feedforward control subsystem and more and more wisdom-based creative activity is essential.

This crisis results mainly in the lack of symbiosis of the system of values and the economic system, which induces rapid changes in the life-conditions of humans and nature. To overcome such crisis we have to change our mindset from social-Darwinistic death rivalry to mutually profitable (win-win) cooperation; from egoism, selfishness and individualism to eco-humanism.

Eco-humanism is a partnership-based co-operation for the common good of all people (rich and poor, from countries highly developed and behind in development), their descendants, and the natural environment - commonly supported by science and high technology.

In this eco-humanistic approach “common good” means looking for common interest solutions 7. For the survival of the human race we need to create, as soon as possible, social relations that encourage “development together with the environment (social and natural)” instead of “growth at the cost of the environment” 8. Simultaneously, the growth of science and technology – especially information technologies (ICT) – made such axiological change possible.

Eco-humanism is a condition for building an information basis for sustainable development policy and economy 9. Such a basis will allow especially the formation of a qualitatively new economy guided by the common good – common interest, in their broadest sense. Such an economy must be founded on a complex benefit-cost account embracing its social and environmental aspects, it should also show preference to ecosocially useful creativity.

At the same time, when the global crisis intensifies, there is no absolute deficit of material resources (minerals, fuels, ecological resources). However there is a lack of knowledge, technology, active intellectual potential and human conscience and time - the factors that are necessary for limiting the senseless utilization of scarce resources (and destruction of nature), as well as for developing alternative sources, whilst the resources which are currently under exploitation are being drained/depleted. Approaching generally – there is a lack of popular wisdom and access to information that create such wisdom conditions.

This crisis not only constitutes a serious hazard for everybody; it also constitutes an opportunity. This opportunity will occur if we carry out a radical reconstruction of the mentality and social- including information- relations, which could create the possibility for sustainable development.

Currently two methods of overcoming the global crisis seem to be possible:

The first, traditional – “zero growth” 10 and “steady state” 11 - method is based on decreasing the number of consumers of the resources that are in deficit. This method represents a pathology of social-Darwinism – mainly Orwellian type eco-fascism 12 - that leads to elimination of the weak, and subsequently - to the extinction of all humans.

The second, alternative method is based on the popularization of intellectual creative activity aimed at the common interest and supported by science and high, especially information (ICT), technology. This would be an eco-humanistic, sustainable development method.

The first, traditional method may seem effective only at first glance. Social-Darwinism does not allow the elimination of the crisis-provoking results of the moral degradation (getting obsolete) - of the life-forms - that are not adapted to the new, quickly changing life-conditions. The higher the level of development and the application of scientific and technological achievements, the faster is the pace of changes in life-conditions of people and nature. This implies a very large acceleration of moral degradation/getting obsolete pace for diverse, previously well-functioning forms of life. And this creates a necessity to develop science and technology in the proper way. For this end we need more and more – not less – human, especially intellectual, work 13. This work must be motivated by the common good of both humanity and the human habitat, and enabled by information technology.

Moral degradation/getting obsolete is as dangerous as the overexploitation of natural resources. This type of degradation, which is almost invisible, only to an insignificant extent depends on the number of people. It is caused mainly by the development of science and technology. This development cannot be stopped.

In order to eliminate the third factor of global crisis - the moral degradation/getting obsolete of life-forms, which in fact constitutes the basic factor - it is necessary to undertake stability-oriented solutions, which are radically different from traditional solutions. These non-traditional solutions are:

  1. Increasing far-sightedness and the flexibility of the methods of human activities;
  2. Supplementing calculations of the costs and benefits of social and economic activity with comprehensively/complex and long-range/farsighted assessed social and natural components;
  3. Implementing a system of eco-humanistic and intellectually creative activity stimulation and its popularization;
  4. Nurturing and developing the wisdom/intellectual potential of the human race.

This requires inter alia the further development of:

  • Computer simulation methods, such as System Dynamics, for large-scale environmental and social (eco-social) systems;
  • Flexible automation of production and defense methods, and
  • Additional development of information and communications technology (ICT)

In order to eliminate negative effects of moral degradation/getting obsolete we need inter alia also popularization of the at least medium-level, comprehensive, holistic education of the youth, what would ensure intellectual independence, eco-humanistic approach, responsibility and the ability to participate in the development of science and technology. It is impossible to prepare the appropriate economic statement without forecasting and a measurable assessment of comprehensive, broad in time and space, complex results of human interdependent activities and of the other changes in life-conditions of people and nature. Without such knowledge it is impossible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Less poverty and more work - without knowledge about complex, long-range, effects of work – simply means faster exhausting of natural resources and extinction of nature, i.e., faster pace to global catastrophe.

The information problem is a key issue in overcoming the global crisis and in the creation of socio-technology possibilities for sustainable development of the whole world society. 14.

Without access to knowledge about results of human activities and of the other changes in the environment it is impossible to change the value system into an eco-humanistic one. At the same time, it is impossible to get access to the above information as long as the eco-humanism value system does not prevail.

For life in SCR, there is also a necessity for the parallel development of flexible automation of production and defense methods, advanced construction of diverse expert information systems, data bases, and collection of other intellectual, scientific, and technological reserves. These are indispensable in SCR for the quick elimination of those hazards which were impossible to predict in advance.

The next key problem is harnessing people's wealth to make it serve creative, cognitive-innovative input to the common good. There is a potential for releasing enormous intellectual creative activity, which is so indispensable for eliminating in an eco-humanistic way the deficits in material, environmental and spiritual life-resources.

Both contemporary as well as forecasted development of science and technology, especially of information technologies/ICT and System Dynamics, makes the possibility of a significant increase of the level of just sharing of human activity results more real.

To overcome the global crisis and reach sustainable development we need, as main precondition, to create – with the help of System Dynamics – information bases of sustainable development policy and sustainable development economy. It allows to implement eco-humanistic, intellectual evolution instead of the current social-Darwinistic one. Instead of selection by the death of unfitted or damp useless commodity, we need to do pre-selection with help of intellectual evolution mechanisms – i.e. in virtual reality by means of computer simulation methods and eco-humanistic valuation.

Introducing intellectual evolution mechanisms will make it possible to access to new sources of life-resources before the existing ones are depleted. It will make it possible to avoid catastrophes if they can be predicted with appropriate lead time. It will then become feasible to build an eco-humanistic information society, instead of a “zero growth”, Orwellian information society. It will make it possible to transform the currently unfolding, at times pernicious process of globalization into a new pattern of globalization: inclusive, fair, with a human face 15. And, especially, it will make it possible to transform the rapid growth of China and India into worldwide agents of world sustainable development. In brief, to overcome the current global crisis, a radical substitution of intellectual evolution mechanisms for social-Darwinistic ones is essential.

At the same time – by substitution intellectual creativity for biological creativity –overpopulation pressure will be decreasing.

3. Information basis of sustainable development transformation

To build intellectual evolution mechanisms, transform the value system from egoistic to eco-humanistic, attain the Millennium Development Goals, and – together with above - achieve sustainable development of the world society, we need to start as soon as possible a large international science-technology and social operation.

The objective of this operation would be to create a commonly accessible 16 Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System (WSDIS) for purposes of:

of policy, economic conditions, work, and other changes effecting the life-conditions of human-beings and nature in general 17.

Dynamic monitoring means collecting statistical data, that reflect process of society and its environment life, and transforming them - by means of computer simulation (System Dynamics) - into information about its quality, dynamics, and future of this process. Dynamic monitoring predicts future of monitored process under condition, that any intervention into it will be undertaken. Dynamic monitoring delivers warning forecasting, i.e. long-term early warning information about up to date socio-economy activity negative consequences. In State of Change/Flux and Risk situations, life processes are strongly non-linear, usually exponential, chaotic and catastrophic. Thus it is impossible without dynamic monitoring to achieve developmental policy goals and other correct policies due to the unpredictability of global changes.

This Worldwide Information System (of systems) would be:

For world society limits to growth developmental crossing/transcending, centralized world information system can not be efficient. Delays with getting access to dates (including new knowledge, that reflect rapidly changed global ecosystem), transforming them into predictions and sending them return to local societies, will make such system ineffective. In the process of building this worldwide – integrated, territorial distributed, large information potential - information system, additional benefits will be generated:

  • If we start to do dynamic monitoring, we will open a “white map” of our ignorance. This will allow us conducting research in a more effective way – in order to get access to the required knowledge
  • When we get warning forecasts, we can try to develop science and technology in such a way, that can enable us to eliminate (or at least mitigate) predicted dangers or decrease its negative effects.

Before introducing into practice such new technology we ought to have possibility to check it by means of proper computer simulation system. To initiate and coordinate the proposed international program of sustainable development-policy and sustainable development-economy information basis building, it would be convenient to create The United Nations Information Center for the Strategy of Sustainable Development (Polish Council … , 2003).

The main tasks of this information center would be:

  • Creation and coordination of a Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System facility
  • World dynamic monitoring, including warning forecasting - as well as computer simulation methods - creation and dissemination.

This UN information center would be an element of the UN World Center for Sustainable Development Strategy (UN Strategy Center) under the UN Secretary General (Polska Inicjatywa …, 1997) 19. The main tasks (subsidiarity principle based) of the UN World Center for Sustainable Development Strategy would be:

The main UN Strategy Center method of promoting world society sustainable development would be the information method; specifically, the dissemination of warning forecasts and proposals of ways to overcome/mitigate them. Inclusive globalization – fair, with human face – will not be possible without this kind of global information and alerts facility.

The Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System (WSDIS) needs to be built in the following sequence:

  1. The World Dynamic Monitoring and Warning Forecasting System (WDMWFS) (that includes the UN world early warning system 20)
  2. The World Computer Simulation System (WCSS) - for aiding policy design and assessing technological, organizational and environmental changes
  3. The information/knowledge basis for the sustainable development-economy.

To take the first steps towards building a World Dynamic Monitoring and Warning Forecasting System we ought to use resources that already exist in this field. Therefore it is proposed to:

To realize/implement the above proposal it would be timely to convince the International Telecommunication Union and the UN leadership and specialists, that the Meadows-Forrester System Dynamics warning forecasting method, done annually and in a developing way, ought to be included into UN program of the world early warning system facility 22.

4. International sustainable development information research program –
for life in the State of Change/Flux and Risk

To respond to UN calls for sustainable development, social justice, sustained economic growth, fair globalization, and the MDGs, as well as the WSIS follow-up 23, we ought to initiate a sustainable development information research program that integrates all phases and stages of life in the State of Change/Flux and Risk.

This research program ought to test the following theses:

  1. The main cause of global ecosystem degradation is rapidly accelerating moral/obsolete degradation/destruction of existing forms of life - not aligned to the new rapidly emergence life-conditions;
  2. It is impossible to eliminate above moral degradation negative effects, overcome global crisis, achieve sustainable development and stop defense terrorism - continuing social-Darwinistic world social relations;
  3. Limits to growth developmental crossing/transcending, as well as wisdom based growth and sustainable development are possible and essential for avoiding global catastrophe and achieving sustainable development of world society;
  4. Without building information bases of sustainable development-policy and sustainable development-economy realization/achieving of above the main United Nations goals is impossible;
  5. To adopt world society to life in the State of Change and Risk, System Dynamics popularization and further – inter alia in GRID way - development is essential.

If these theses prove valid, then we ought to build a world information system that is designed for the purpose of recognizing and developmental crossing/transcending world society limits to growth.

This research ought to give us answers also to the following questions:

  • How to provide policy-makers - and societies – with access to knowledge about complex (and future) effects of current policy (their own and other policy-makers)?
  • How to get access to data and knowledge that are necessary for dynamic monitoring, warning forecasting and elimination of negative moral/obsolete degradation effects?
  • How to combine existing statistics and knowledge bases as well as forecasting systems and projects into Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System?
  • How to transform global, national and regional statistical offices (e.g. EUROSTAT) into offices for statistics and dynamic monitoring, including warning forecasting?
  • How to build the information basis for sustainable development-economy?
  • How to make possible comprehensive/complex accounting of benefits and cost of socio-economic activity (including natural and social - human components)?
  • How to make possible distributive justice, so that the effects of work social process reaches all mature citizens in proportion to ecosocial usefulness of individual and/or collective work?

5. Sustainable development and the global crisis in the System of Life view

Having defined the requirements for a social system to be a life-system, and the scenario for such a life-system to be in the State of Change/Flux and Risk (SCR), the following subsections elaborate on sustainable development and the kind of information systems that will be required to support sustainable development.

5.1 Conclusions based on conceptual systems analysis

The above conclusions follow from systems analysis that was done by means of a conceptual model of reality, the name of which is: System of Life (SoL) 24. SoL is a complex systems model. It was built in the axiomatic way 25. SoL reflects general static and dynamic properties of life-systems different types/kinds 26. Life-systems are: open systems with homeostasis ability 27, natural systems 28, dynamic systems 29, autonomous systems 30, and information systems under development 31.

SoL reflects common properties of life-systems - for example: societies, industrial corporations, other organizations, or/and systems: man–technology–environment (SMTEnv – see Figure 1) 32, as well as supersystems (sets: life-system – environment, including global ecosystem) and subsystems.

Figure 1 - Global ecosystem as a man-technology-environment (SMTEnv) open system

The environment is a life-system too. The SoL reflects especially the essence, logic, and conditions of life-systems development and regression.

World society - in the SoL approach system: man - technology (SMT) is a subsystem of the global ecosystem – Earth. Other societies/social systems – also SMT - are subsystems of world society. For them the environment consists of social and natural life-systems. Earth – the global ecosystem – is subsystem of the Universe. Both the Universe and the Earth are life-systems too. Planet Earth arose during the natural evolution process from cosmic/space energy (Bing Bang hypothesis). This space energy continuously supports life of Earth as a global ecosystem. The Earth, as well as all social systems, are changing continuously and irreversible.

To support life, a social system must obtain energy (substantial and waves) from its environment and transform it by work for:

  • Eliminating negative environmental impacts on it
  • Eliminating negative impacts of its own activity
  • Adapting its own structure to the changing environment
  • Transforming itself in the developmental way

When a social system is “young” – i.e. on a low level of development and inertia – then it can do this work using only feedback control. When a social system is largely developed - and has big inertia – this work must be done using feedforward control in addition to feedback control, i.e. in pre-emptive development way.

When a social system is “young” and therefore has small outer destruction potential and when environment is in a development state, such social system can live and grow “at the cost of environment”. “Young” under development social system can and must to take from environment “more”, than it “give” to it.

But when the social system has matured and has grown so large and powerful that it can destroy the life of its environment - its life support agent - it has to change its life-support activity patterns in such a way that it allows the support socio-natural environment (inter alia, the biosphere, which is the human habitat) to remain alive and healthy. This requires “giving” to the environment “more” than it “takes” from the environment. Otherwise, the destruction of the environment is inevitable. “Taking” from environment “more” than it is “given back” is unwise and in due time will induce the collapse of the entire social system.

Large, highly developed social system must substitute “development together with (socio-natural) environment” life-pattern for obsolete/moral destructed already “growth at the cost of environment” until now efficient life-pattern.

To “give” the environment “more” than is taken from it, and at the same time realize own development is theoretically a very difficult task. To achieve such effect of life, world society needs create popular wisdom, eco-humanistic axiology and very efficient information (including science) support system.

To combine own development with rapidly changing environment is an enormous information challenge.

The social system - SMT - consists of two subsystems: the human subsystem and the technology subsystem. The human subsystem is an SMT control subsystem. It includes only those humans that fulfill functions of knowledge developers, innovative designers and/or life-process decisions makers. The technology subsystem includes not only “pure” technology, but also those humans that fulfill passive role in society's life-process – mainly as work force controlled by the human subsystem.

As the range and intensity of environmental changes increase, more humans ought to be transferred from the technology subsystem to the human subsystem. It also means real humanization of work conditions.

5.2 Elements of the SoL conceptual model

This section provides the axiomatic basis for SoL, as well as a description of the SoL life-systems properties.

5.2.1 The basic SoL axioms

The life-system is built from energy (in the broadest sense, including energy in both substantial and waves form) 33

E = mc2

The main axiom that is the basis for this model is:

i = B(n,q)1/s
i - the level of information (Wiener, 1971) – conceptual measure of life-system development (and organization, as well as the quality of life system) level
s - the level of ecosocial entropy (Michnowski, 1995, 2006) as well as the level of development-reserves of the life-system
n - the number of its elements
q - quality of elements of life-system, and
B(n,q) - some function connected with quantity and quality of life-system elements
The higher life-system quality, the higher its longevity is and the more differentiated elements and higher elements quality it includes.

Eco-social entropy (isomorphic similarity to thermodynamic entropy) is:

s = k ln w
k – some constant, life-system kind conditioned
w – number of different time-space configurations of set: life-system–environment, elements that allow to reach this same life-system quality state (for example – this same life-span/longevity and/or creative efficiency)

The Universe is a system (Bertalanffy, 1968). Its subsystems and elements are mutually interdependent in accordance to:


where n is the number of Universe elements.

The Universe is infinite: n = ∞.

5.2.2 The basic SoL life-systems properties

Consider the expression

ls = < E, Ri, Re, ϑ , i, t >


ls – life-system
E – ls elements
Ri – internal relations
Re – external relations
ϑ – ls life-span, longevity
i – level of ls development (and information)
t – time

The main goal of a life-system is to support the life of the supersystem, i.e. its own and the environment’s. The life of a life-system – an open system - depends on the life, high quality and adequate structure of the environment – life-support main agent.

The life-system is firmly connected with the environment. The life of the life-system depends on the mutuality between life-system and environment. For life-system life, environment should have high its life-quality and appropriate form – adequate to life-system life-needs and structure. When the environment changes, the life-system structure must be changed adequately too. The life-system have homeostasis ability to defend life in supersystem (set: life-system – environment) and cooperate for supersystem development.

Life-system structure consists of microstructure and macrostructure. Microstructure is a structure of the life-system elements. Macrostructure combines – by means of feedbacks – the life-system elements in system wholeness. Its microstructure is changing nearly continuously. Macrostructure is changing periodically. The life-process is an information creating- and entropy growth opposing- process.

The creation of information (in Wiener’s sense) depends on proper work that causes such less-probable changes in time-space configurations of set: life–system – environment, elements that it allows to put up life-system quality. Together with it longevity of the life-system, its creative efficiency also grows.

The life-process is strongly non-linear, usually exponential, chaotic and catastrophic – in any case, not fully predictable. It is irreversible too.

Life of the life-system depends therefore on the efficient creation of information in set: life-system – environment (information in Wiener’s sense), and/or putting down the intensity of entropy process that inevitably coexist with all life-support activities. Life-span/longevity of life-system is finite but not determined. It is possible to increase its life-span by proper developmental policy (that one which causes growth of life-system information level). The more the life-system information level, the greater the life-system longevity and creative efficiency are.

In order to sustain life, humankind needs to keep enhancing also all forms of access to reflection information, i.e. information that adequately reflects changed static and dynamic of above set (past and future - data, knowledge, prognoses, etc.) The life-system – for example system: “man–technology” (SMT, Figure 1) - takes life-support energy (in larger sense) from environment, transforms it for support its life and development, and – after that, already internally useless (getting relative entropy growth) - emits this energy into environment.

This energy emitted to the environment, if it is appropriately processed – up-graded adequately to environment life-needs – will support the life of environment and create environment impacts positive for the life–system. The form of this out-put energy, its negentropy creative potential, depends on life-system structure, its accessibility to adequate reflection information, general information potential, changes power, and its value-system.

The environment is changing permanently. The life-system is an inertial system. The more developed a life-system is, and the more elements it is built of, the higher the system inertia is. To adapt a life–system structure to new environmental impacts on it, this adaptation ought to be done on the basis of predictions of new environment states to come. To adopt properly life-system external impacts (on environment), it is also necessary to continuously predict future environment life-needs and start life-system adaptive transformations in pre-emptive way. It is necessary also to control permanently future environment impacts on life-system to avoid unpredictable negative consequences of environmental changes.

It shows how more and more reflection information, as well as ICT and flexible automation (cyborgs, flexible manufacturing systems, and other flexibility technology means) is needed to predict future of humankind chaotic life-process and support its development (when catastrophic changes are also possible).

How big amount of reflection information and general information potential humanity ought to create for sustainability, if the set humankind – environment is probably infinite? To maximize humankind life-span/longevity we have therefore to enlarge humankind active intellectual creative potential and information efficiency. For this end we need also to fasten humankind integration, as well as wisely enlarge human population and wisdom activity intensity.

Wiener's information premise (axiom), and my own interpretation, indicate that the ability of humankind to survive is connected with wisdom, which is to be continuously pursued by all human beings, as it is indispensable for human development.

Furthermore, if and when humanity crosses the real carrying capacity of the Earth – the human race, if it wants to survive, ought to expand into Cosmos. And - if other cosmos civilizations exist - ought to integrate with them in an eco-humanistic synergetic way.

5.3 Why do we need sustainable development instead of steady state?

The life-process consists of both development and regression. The development process causes life-system longevity and creative efficiency growth. The effects of regression process are opposite. Positive synergetic effects of integrating appropriately – with development – properly (in complementary way) differentiated elements into new elements is the main agent of development. In the period of life-system life - as a result of life-process - there are different life-system life-states: developmental, and regressive.

In developmental life-state the life-system can be successively:

  • Internally constructive and externally destructive (immature life-systems. 1st stage of development), and (as a next)
  • Internally and externally constructive (mature. 2nd stage of development)

In regressive life-state life-system can be:

  • Internally destructive, externally constructive (1st stage of regression), or
  • Internally and externally destructive (2nd stage of regression)

Constructiveness – when positive (negative entropy) impacts prevail negative (entropy) one. To be externally constructive, means "to give" (to the environment) more than "to take" (from the environment)”. Synergy is the main means of constructiveness.

A “young” (immature) life-system - still under early, 1st stage of development - grows and develops “at the cost of the environment”. Mature life-system – i.e. highly (not only science-technology, but also ethically) developed - can be constructive both internally and externally, contributing to strengthening the life-giving capability of the environment (Kozlowski, 2000). (This maturity is conditioned on wisdom, access to adequate reflection information and system’s skill/ability to use this information in way appropriate for mutual development).

Every act of life-system itself or environment life-systems simultaneously causes two opposite effects on the life-system: positive (negative entropy) and negative (entropy). The total effects of these acts create developmental or regressive impacts on every life-system that make up the supersystem (set: life-system – environment). The net effect of these negative regressive impacts may be the destabilization of the life-system. Then it becomes necessary to undertake another homeostasis developmental act that is essential to support life-system development. Therefore the trajectory of life system development is really not so smooth, as it will be shown on Figures 3 and 4.

The life-system develops, when all positive component impacts on it, surpass negative ones (Figure 2). On this figure, the effects of different kind life-system acts – their influence on life-system life process are shown.

Figure 2 - Sustainable development, regression, and steady-state conditions

On the left side of this picture there are shown only positive components effects of three different kinds of acts. On the right side of this picture there are shown summarized effects of these different actions: physical destruction and obsolete/moral destruction. Life-system development is conditioned upon total positive component impacts surpass over total negative impact on it. Figure 2 does not show environmental impacts on life–system that can be positive or negative.

The life-system develops in a sustained way when it avoids lasting/durable periods of regression. When life-system is in crisis there are some periods of life-process when it quasi-develops – in phase 2 and 3 of crisis (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Life-system development and the phases of a crisis

To reiterate: A precondition of sustainable development is creation (positive effects) over destruction (negative effects) sustained surplus.

Positive development impacts on the life-system (Figure 2) can be the result of:

  • Proper multiplication of existing life-system elements number
  • Regeneration of physically only degraded life-system structures and/or elements
  • Innovation activity, adequately modernizing life-system and/or environment structure

These positive impacts can be also the result of the environment's improvements. There are two kinds of negative impact effects on a life–system:

  • physical destruction, and
  • moral/obsolete destruction

Moral/obsolete destruction (physically not destructed life-forms but not adequate to new life-conditions) is a result of environment changes. The higher environment change rates, the higher intensity of moral/obsolete destruction is. For short-term supporting life-system life we need at least elimination of negative for it effects of above physical and moral/obsolete destruction. It includes restricted adaptive activity that allows only temporarily to continue life in the new life-conditions. As a result, the life-system is kept in “steady state”.

To support the life-system life in the long-term way we need additional developmental activity that allows developmental surplus creation. Developmental surplus – which is effect of internal life-system constructiveness – is used for:

  • Changing forms of life-system life into forms, which are more efficient, less destructive
  • Changing environment into form more friendly for life-system
  • Accumulating life-reserves for dealing with the ”unknown/unforeseeable”

This developmental surplus is essential for life-system ultra-stability and limits to growth developmental crossing/transcending. Sustained developmental surplus is the essence of sustainable development.

In the State of Change/Flux and Risk (SCR) any crisis can cause – in a catastrophic way – global collapse. To eliminate negative consequences rapidly in SCR pacing moral degradation/getting obsolete, we must put down every other forms of humankind degradation. It is inter alia a complex System Dynamics problem.

To put down the rate of physical destruction, we ought - at first glance - to diminish the rate of consumption, as usually called for by ecologists. But “prestige” consumption is very strong factor of creative activity stimulation. “Efficiency” consumption is also basic factor of building active intellectual potential of weaker parts of world society. Such form of consumption increases every one creative potential. Therefore for sustainable development we need sustained economic growth stimulated by means of distributive relations based on principle of eco-social justice. Who (matured) more give to humankind wealth, he/that can and ought to take more from this commonly built wealth.

The way to become wealthy is to put/give more for the common good than you take from it; else, society will inevitably be destroyed.

It follows that, from a System of Life point of view, overcoming global crisis by keeping the world society in “steady state” may stabilize the System of Life for an indeterminate period of time, but in the long term would make impossible the life-system survival in the midst of rapid, often chaotic and catastrophic, environmental changes.

A world society in “steady state” (Figure 2) would not have the capacity to adequately multiply humankind intellectual potential, and accumulate life-reserves, for dealing with the “unknown/unforeseeable”. Furthermore, in order to survive and attain sustainable development we have to create a world life-process control system that does not allow for “overshooting”.

To overcome the negative effects of developmental “overshoot” we need “backcasting”, i.e. to integrate the knowledge about the limits to growth that were crossed in a pathological way and create means of transcending it properly (Figure 3). To properly control the world life-process we need inter alia knowledge about the behavior patterns of the world society in all phases and stages of development. The longer a crisis lasts, the more difficult restoring development will be (Figure 3). A crisis always causes degradation of the life-support agents.

5.4 Phases of life-system development

The life-process, as well as the development process, goes through phases or stages.

There are two kinds of development process phases.

The “microstructure” development phases are the phases of development connected with changes of life-system microstructure:

  • The first phase, the number of its elements grows
  • The second phase, life-system elements becomes different and achieves maturity
  • The third phase, different and matured elements are integrated into new elements

The “macrostructure” development phases are the phases of development connected with impacts of life-system macrostructure (Figure 4):

  • The first phase, when new form of macrostructure is getting mature
  • The second phase, when already matured macrostructure stimulates rapid development of microstructure
  • The third phase, when existing form of macrostructure is morally destructing/getting obsolete and the life-system approaches the limits to growth

Figure 4 - Wisdom-based sustainable development

In every of above “macrostructure” development phases the rate of development is different. In the first phase – slowly accelerate. In the second phase – is very fast, as a result of microstructure development stimulated by proper macrostructure. In the third phase – the rate of development is slowing up to stop.

As a result, during the “macrostructure” development phases going through/crossing, the life-system inertia grows and the rate of environment changes grows also. Together with it, life-system reaches the limit to growth, the existing macrostructure is getting obsolete, and a new macrostructure form is needed, if development is to continue.

Next, the third “macrostructure” development phase unfolds, and the life-system – if it crosses the limit to its growth in a developmental way– enters a new stage of development. An appropriately shaped new form of macrostructure will stimulate further life-system development.

If the life-system, after reaching the above mentioned limits to growth, does not change its macrostructure or changes it inappropriately, then the life-system crosses this limit to growth in a pathological and/or self-destructive way. This is the so-called developmental “overshoot” which leads to crisis and eventually to the life-system's death (Figure 3).

5.5 Sustainable development information conditions

It is reiterated that sustainable development (Figure 3 and 4) is the kind of development that avoids crises. It allows for life without necessity to restore (in very costly way) development by building new forms of life on the ruins of the old ones. To achieve and support sustainable development we need inter alia knowledge about quality and dynamics of life-process.

How to recognize whether dynamically monitored society is in development-, or regression- state? General statement that development state is confirmed by the growth of society information level is in practice not enough. Therefore we need additional development indicators. These indicators should be more specific.

The state of development could be confirmed by:

  • Moving away (into the future) or transcending the limit to growth (p-t T, Figure 4), and
  • Increasing biological as well as internally and externally constructive society population life-span

These are still conceptual development indicators but provide a basis to formulate more specific indicators. To acquire knowledge about the quality and dynamics of the life-process as a first step we need to build – as it was already said above - a World Dynamic Monitoring and Warning Forecasting System (WDMWFS). This global information system ought to deliver inter alia the following information:

  • What quality of global ecosystem (system: humankind – nature: Earth) and particular parts of world society life-process currently exist: is it development or crisis and/or regression?
  • In what phase of development (or regression) is the global ecosystem?
  • What is the rate of above society development or regression?
  • Is that rate slowing or accelerating?
  • What kind of dangers this society ought to overcome?
  • When will this society reach its limit to growth (with actual form of macrostructure, i.e. socio-economic relations or other form of its infrastructure)?
  • Is this limit to growth approaching or going away?

By means of such dynamic monitoring – if we are in development state - we ought to get information as to when the third macrostructure phase of development starts (Figure 4). When society development reaches p-t B (Figure 4) its rate is slowing. At this time it is necessary to recognize a new macrostructure adequate to the new life-condition and start to build it - in a pre-emptive way. Similarly this global information system would help to recognize crisis, its phase and stage and restore development.

5.6 Fundamental stages of sustainable development

For sustainable development it is not enough to get information about limit to growth approaching. It is necessary also to recognize this limit to growth and project/design transformation from existing macrostructure to new proper one. There are three types of qualitatively different fundamental limits to growth (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Fundamental limits to growth of highly developed life-system as system: man-technology (SMT)

These limits to growth must be consecutively faced and developmentally crossed/transcended by initially “young” - i.e. ethically immature (egoistic motivated), externally destructive – but relatively high science-technology developed life-system, for example: western civilization, as system: man – technology (SMT - Figure 1 and 5).

The first limit to growth of such highly developed, but ethically immature socio-economy system (SMT) is the “inertial” limit. This “inertial” limit to growth arises, when the volume of SMT inertia and rate of environment changes – as a result especially of technology development - are so high, that SMT adaptation to rapidly changed (socio-natural) environment, when based only on the feedback control principle 34, will not be sufficient to assure SMT life-support.

When such SMT observes these changes and try to adapt itself to new form of environment – the environment takes a new form. To overcome this limit to growth this SMT must implement an additional feedforward control subsystem. It means the necessity to create a capability of environment changes prediction and starting adaptation to new life-conditions on such pre-emptive basis.

Feedforward allows to finish this adaptation when a new environment form arises. It means also to get skilled to act very flexibly. Enlargement of flexibility is an additional essential condition for life of large, big inertia SMT in rapidly changing environment. For feedforward implementation new value system is essential too. It is necessary to include into intellectual – cognitive and innovative – activity a passive until now elements of SMT: human beings that until now were used as simple workforce, only technology. It needs to reorganize society according to the subsidiarity principle. It enables the SMT elite to engage in farsighted strategic activity,

The second limit to growth is limit “defense-axiological”. This “defense-axiological” limit to growth arises when this “young” highly science–technology developed SMT (that was until now normally egoistically motivated and externally destructive) reach a powerful ability to get life-resources from socio-natural environment as well as to totally it destruct. This environment destruction would be the result of its unreasonable external impacts. To stay in this egoistic (at the cost of socio-natural environment) form of life it would be dangerous for both environment – as this SMT life-support agent - and highly developed SMT itself.

To transcend this limit to growth is especially necessary to change highly developed SMT’s egoistic value system into ego-altruistic – eco-humanistic - one.

An ego-altruistic value system is based on the awareness about interdependence between life of such highly developed SMT and life of socio-natural environment, that ought to be – for supporting this SMT life - high quality and appropriate form. Developmental crossing/transcending this limit to growth means that highly developed SMT reach its full maturity (not only science-technological, but also ethical - 2nd stage of development), create its external constructiveness and continue its development in qualitatively new way: “together with environment”.

This new, ego altruistic value system allows to include gradually weaker societies from the social environment into intellectual – cognitive and innovative – creative activity. This new, ego altruistic value system allows therefore to get gradually access - with the help of weaker societies from environment - especially to data and knowledge necessary to human activity effects prediction and valuation. It allows also radical intensify of proper innovative activity of humankind. And, very important, it enables change from egoistic economy into ego-altruistic economy, namely sustainable development-economy. This new, sustainable development economy is precondition of proper stimulation of humankind creative activity.

To developmentally cross/transcend this limit to growth, highly developed SMT has to change not only its value-system into ego altruistic one, but also attain a capability for environment life-process defense control. The high skill of matured, highly developed SMT to environment defense control is especially caused by other still “young” (therefore still egoistically motivated) societies that exist in its social environment. Therefore, already matured highly developed SMT – continuing development on the principle “together with environment’ ought to have defense potential that is necessary to disallow being damaged by other still “young” (externally destructive) societies from environment. The second reason of such defense control is to reduce the probability of future unpredicted negative effects of other environment impacts on this SMT.

The third limit to growth is the “catastrophic” limit. The change of highly developed, mature SMT its relations with social – until now underdeveloped - environment into friendly one (based on principle “development together with environment”) causes radical acceleration of these weaker societies development. As a result, these underdeveloped and “young” until now societies reach also – with the help of highly developed SMT – its full maturity. It causes big development acceleration of both highly developed SMT and the (until now) underdeveloped societies. It also causes acceleration of big changes in the natural environment and obviously the entire global ecosystem; as well as rapid exhausting of previously accessible sources of resources.

Together with such acceleration the new, “catastrophic” limit to growth arises. In such rapidly changing situation numerous unpredicted catastrophes might occur. To developmental cross/transcend this “catastrophic” limit to growth it is necessary to build a capability for assuring effective mutual life-support, based on a symbiotic cooperation in the set: humankind – natural environment. This requires the ability of including natural homeostasis potential into global ecosystem life-support activity. Highly skilled life-reserves creation is also essential for life beyond this “catastrophic” limit to growth.

Such symbiotic cooperation is very difficult from an information point of view. To adopt humankind/world society life-forms to natural environment life-needs - when this environment is changing very rapidly – humankind ought to have access to information about these also changing future natural environment life-needs.

During developmental crossing/transcending all above three fundamental limits to growth, first highly developed SMT, next all world society ought to enlarge its far-sightedness, flexibility and life-reserves creation potentials. Together with this transformation, homeostatic properties (including informational efficiency and control system) have to be improved too. In addition, the volume of natural environment that should be cared has to be adequately enlarged.

As a result of the above mentioned three fundamental limits to growth developmental crossing/transcending, highly developed SMT will exist in environment that is not only developing but also externally constructive. In such situation, environment homeostatic activity will radically help to support further development of originally highly developed SMT. It allows this highly developed SMT to keep a solid and stable strategic control position.

6. Conclusions

The global crisis is caused by the world society pathological crossing – especially by its highly developed part – at least two first fundamental limits to growth: “inertial” and “defense-axiological”.

Therefore, if especially highly developed part of the world society unwisely crossed above mentioned limits to growth – “overshoot” them – to restore world society development we ought to up-grade lagged behind societies instead of putting them – in social-Darwinistic way - “beside the board”.

As a result of big science technology progress world society lives in qualitatively new life-situation: in the State of Change/Flux and Risk. The rate of environmental changes is so high, that currently – generally feedback control based - short-sighted economy and politics not allow for proper, anticipative, in pre-emptive way, changing humankind life-forms to adopt them to new rapidly emerging, often qualitatively new life-conditions. Therefore the world society – moreover based on egoistic axiology - is unfitted to life in this new state.

In the State of Change/Flux and Risk moral/obsolete degradation of life-forms not adapted to new life-conditions is the main agent of global crisis. The main cause of global crisis lies in the lack of ability to efficiently eliminate moral/obsolete destruction effects. We also lack the skills (and political will) to decrease intensity of unwise physical destruction (wars, wrong patterns of consumption and production, unemployment, homelessness, natural environment destruction, and so on).

It is impossible to stop moral/obsolete destruction intensity acceleration. To eliminate negative effects of moral/obsolete degradation, eco-humanistically motivated science-technology (including organizational) progress is essential. But this progress contributes to further growth of the moral degradation/getting obsolete rate. For this reason, to overcome the global crisis, we need a radical growth of wisdom and intellectual creativeness as complement to science-technology progress. To live in the State of Change/Flux and Risk, we need also to create – with System Dynamics - information basis of sustainable development-policy and sustainable development-economy.

In the State of Change/Flux and Risk social-Darwinism is obsolete. It is a very costly form of life. Darwinistic, natural selection – by death of unfitted - means big intensity of Earth socio- and bio-diversity destruction, But/meanwhile this diversity is the main synergetic agent of development. Therefore we have to create as soon as possible – instead of Darwinistic, natural evolution – intellectual evolution mechanisms, based eco-humanistic axiology.

For support development in the State of Change/Flux and Risk – especially for moral/obsolete destruction consequences eliminating - we need more and more human beings wisely and efficiently working for common good – common interest. To overcome the global crisis we have to maximize appropriate cognitive and innovative activity of world society. These are preconditions to cross consecutive limits to growth in a developmental way.

Therefore, the “zero growth” and “steady state” conceptions - that human population ought to reach some maximal volume and stop growing in number of human brains (basic factor of humankind wisdom) – are false. In the System of Life conception, it is obviously undesirable and unwise to have limitless growth in the number of human beings. But growth is still essential to provide adequate life support for humankind. Therefore this growth ought to be based on world society limits to growth developmental crossing/transcending ability.

Fulfillment of vision of a world society sustainable development – that integrate social development with economy development and environmental protection - as basis of MDG implementation, ought to be seen as the main world society goal. To realize this vision we need a radically new political philosophy. This philosophy can be based on the System of Life conceptual model which shows how the fundamental limits to growth of human society can be transcended. The model also provides guidance on how to shorten the transition period to sustainability.

To avoid global catastrophe we need intercultural dialogue based on forward approval of three fundamental eco-humanistic values: solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good - common interest.

To achieve sustainable development of the world society we need a wisdom based society instead of just a knowledge based society. A wisdom society is one that is based on intellectual evolution mechanisms and popular access to information concerning the future consequences of current human activity. A wisdom society will use this information and high technology in eco-humanistic way - for the common good of humanity, including taking good care of the human habitat.

To get access to the knowledge necessary for implementing the “three pillars” sustainable development vision, a large-scale international science-technology and social operation is necessary for shaping an appropriate world information infrastructure. A commonly accessible, net and GRID, continuously under development, Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System (WSDIS), with System Dynamics analysis capability, ought to be built with help of United Nations as follow-up to WSIS.

This information system - built step by step - together with popular wisdom education, will radically enlarge the range of far-sightedness/long-sightedness, flexibility and reserves creativity of the world society. It makes it possible to change egoistic axiology into ego altruistic – eco-humanistic - one.

To start building an appropriate world information system, an international research program is proposed. The main task of such program is to verify thesis that limits to growth transcending is possible and describe the conditions and methods of creating for this end a comprehensive Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System.

Without creating access to knowledge about the complexities of human work (including futures research) it will be impossible to:

  • Save the natural environment
  • Get access to new resources
  • Eliminate unemployment
  • Narrow the “rich – poor” gap and achieve all the MDGs
  • Bring about a new era of eco-social justice

Without this access, it will not possible to avoid global catastrophe and achieve sustainable development of the world society. In the State of Change/Flux and Risk, feedforward, based on eco-humanism, System Dynamics, and profound wisdom and creativity, are necessary to eliminate the negative consequences of the increasing moral/obsolete degradation, which is the main cause of the global crisis.

To overcome the global crisis, we need to find ways of helping the world society to adapt to the State of Change/Flux and Risk. To this end, the first step is to convince the world power elites that limits to growth developmental crossing is possible and is in their own, basic survival interest.

7. List of acronyms

Global Earth Observation System of Systems
Information and Communication Technologies
Millennium Development Goals
State of Change/Flux and Risk
system: man – technology
system: man – technology – environment
System of Life (the author's name for the conceptual model of reality)
World Dynamic Monitoring and Warning Forecasting System
Worldwide Sustainable Development Information System
World Summit on the Information Society

8. Notes and bibliography

8.1 Notes

1 “5. Accordingly, we assume a collective responsibility to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental protection – at local, national, regional and global levels.” (United Nations, 2002, p. 5) [back to the article]

2 When I use the word “environment” it means social and/or natural environment. [back to the article]

3 It is full Brundtland explanation of notion sustainable development: "Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."(Brundtland, 1987, Part I, 2 p. 27). It put main accent on development as process. To control this process we need knowledge about its phases and stages as well as constraints that ought to be wisely removed. [back to the article]

4 "Our challenge is to establish a people-centered framework for social development to guide us now and in the future, to build a culture of cooperation and partnership, and to respond to the immediate needs of those who are most affected by human distress. We are determined to meet this challenge and promote social development throughout the world." See: (United Nations, 1995) "We reaffirm that development is a central goal by itself and that sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental aspects constitutes a key element of the overarching framework of United Nations activities. (…)." (United Nations, 2005a, p. 10) [back to the article]

5 See: [back to the article]

6 "We also recognize that broad-based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development is necessary to sustain social development and social justice." (United Nations, 1995, p. 29). See also: (World Bank, 2006). The UN is strongly opposed to the “zero growth” conception. [back to the article]

7 See: (Brundtland, 1987, Chapter II EQUITY AND THE COMMON INTEREST). [back to the article]

8 "To carry out sustainability transformation (and eliminate overshoot negative consequences (…) visioning, networking, truth-telling, learning, and loving is proposed: Individualism and shortsightedness are the greatest problems of the current social system (…) and the deepest cause of unsustainability. Love and compassion institutionalized in collective solutions is the better alternative." (Meadows 2004). [back to the article]

9 For proper sustainable development policy shaping we need computer simulation methods and knowledge about main social systems properties. See: (Sage, 1977, p. 8), (Forrester, 1995). For world life-process forecasting we need large access to information that currently is possessed individually. [back to the article]

10 “Zero growth” – see: (Forrester, 1995, figure 8). “Zero growth (…) an absolutely unacceptable idea for emerging economies and developing countries.” (Merkel 2007). [back to the article]

11 See: Figure 2. [back to the article]

12 See: (Uexkull, 1994) [back to the article]

13 In the light of System of Life model, it is impossible to create such big super-computer that surpass wise human aided by this supercomputer (or net/grid of such super-computers). Computers, cyborgs have not intuition and conscience. For life in the State of Change/Flux and Risk we need human wisdom aided by artificial intelligence. [back to the article]

14 “Information is the key to (sustainability) transformation. When information flows are changed, any system will behave differently.” (Meadows, 2004). [back to the article]

15 "We strongly support fair globalization and resolve to make the goals of full and productive employment and decent work for all (…)." (United Nations, 2005a). See also: (John Paul II, 2001), (CIA, 2002, 2004), (Merkel, 2007). [back to the article]

16 “in the new world of infinite information resources, one country's creation of wealth based on information can be shared by all. The value of information increases, the more it is shared.” (Utsumi 2005). [back to the article]

17 Justification of this proposal: (Michnowski, 2002, 2004, 2006a,b). [back to the article]

18 This initiative is very close to Takeshi Utsumi proposal of large computer simulation methods implementing into world policy, inter alia to avoid wars and support sustainable development policy (GUS, GSEEED): (Utsumi, 2003, 2006) [back to the article]

19 From many years this my proposal (Michnowski, 1995) is supported by large amount of Polish intellectuals: (Polska Inicjatywa…, 1997), (Memorial, 2003), (Polish Council, 2003). See also: "We are focusing on the medium-term because we want action. But it is in the nature of the agenda of sustainable development that we should not loose sight of the long term – not only in our thoughts but also in our decisions. (…) not only on 2015 but also on 2050 (…)". (OPENING ADDRESS 2002). "We recognize sustainable development requires a long-term perspective and broad-based participation in policy formulation, decision-making and implementation at all levels.(…)." (United Nations, 2002). [back to the article]

20 It is not enough “(f) To work expeditiously towards the establishment of a worldwide early warning system for all natural hazards (….)”. See: (United Nations, 2005). We need also precautions in the face of man made hazards and/or disasters. There are two kinds of early warning systems: long-term early warning systems and short-term early warning systems. To avoid tsunami-like catastrophes we need short-term early warning systems. To avoid for example climate changes negative consequences we need long-term early warning system. Meadows/Forrester early warning system is long-term one. Good long-term early warning system as well as dynamic monitoring creates prognoses that have to change policy that allow to avoid predicted negative consequences of current policy. [back to the article]

21 It would be convenient to include also Takeshi Utsumi Globally Collaborative Environmental Peace Gaming project (with a globally distributed computer simulation system), into above program realization (Utsumi, 2003, 2006). [back to the article]

22 See note 19. [back to the article]

23 “67. We are firmly convinced that we are collectively entering a new era of enormous potential, that of the Information Society and expanded human communication. In this emerging society, information and knowledge can be produced, exchanged, shared and communicated through all the networks of the world. All individuals can soon, if we take the necessary actions, together build a new Information Society based on shared knowledge and founded on global solidarity and a better mutual understanding between peoples and nations. We trust that these measures will open the way to the future development of a true knowledge society.” (United Nations, 2003). [back to the article]

24 This model was built according to A.P. Sage condition of proper systems engineering-based policy formulation process. (Sage 1977, p.8.) The large part of the System of Life conceptual model description, as well as justification of necessity to introduce it into politics has been explained inter alia in papers presented in Palermo, Oxford and Nijmegen System Dynamics Society conferences papers (Michnowski 2002, 2004, 2006a). See also: (Michnowski, 1995). [back to the article]

25 According to J. M. Bochenski it is possible and useful to transform philosophical knowledge in axiomatic way. Axiomatic method in systems analysis was also proposed in: (Forrester, 1961). [back to the article]

26 "The next frontier for human endeavor is to pioneer a better understanding of environmental, economic, and social systems. Without system dynamics and knowledge about especially social systems basic properties - LM): (…) when the troubles increase, the efforts are intensified that are actually worsening the situation.” (Forrester, 1995). [back to the article]

27 See: (Bertalanffy, 1952). [back to the article]

28 See: (Laszlo, 1972). [back to the article]

29 See: (Forrester, 1961). [back to the article]

30 See: (Mazur, 1999). [back to the article]

31 See: (Michnowski, 1989). Compare: (Wiener, 1971). Compare (Commoner, 1971). [back to the article]

32 Compare (Commoner, 1971) [back to the article]

33 Compare (Sedlak,1985, Bogdanski, 1985) [back to the article]

34 In this case the feedback control principle depends on social system adaptation based on observing in praxis changes in its life-conditions and after that adopting forms of life to the new life-conditions. [back to the article]

8.2 Bibliography

Brundtland, Gro Harlem, 1987, Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future -

Bertalanffy von, Ludwig, 1952, Problems of Life, Harper, New York.

Bogdanski, Kazimierz, 1985, Studium nad regulonami (Regulons Theory), Siedlce.

CIA, 2000, Report: Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Central Intelligence Agency, December 2000,

CIA, 2004, The Contradictions of Globalization, Report of National Intelligence Council's Report 2020 Project -

Commoner, Barry, 1971, The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology. Knopf, New York.

Forrester Jay W., 1961, Industrial Dynamics, Cambridge (MIT Press).

Forrester, Jay. W., 1995, Counterintuitive Behavior of Social Systems -

John Paul II, 2001, GLOBALIZATION MUST NOT BE A NEW FORM OF COLONIALISM, Vatican City, APR 27, 2001 (VIS – Internet).

Kozlowski, Stefan, 2000, Ekorozwoj - Wyzwanie XXI wieku (Sustainable development - XXI Century Challenge), PWN, Warszawa 2000.

Laszlo, Ervin, 1972, Introduction to Systems Philosophy - Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought, Taylor & Francis.

Mazur, Marian, 1999, Cybernetyka i charakter (Cybernetics and character), Warszawa.

Meadows, Donella H., Randers, Jorgen, Meadows, Dennis L., 2004, Limits to Growth, The 30-Year Update, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, Vermont.

Memorial Komitetu Prognoz „Polska 2000 Plus” przy Prezydium Polskiej Akademii Nauk dla najwyzszych wladz RP w sprawie potrzeby umacniania procesu trwalego rozwoju swiata i budowy spoleczenstwa globalnego (Committee for Futures Studies "Poland 2000 Plus" Polish Academy of Sciences Memorandum for Polish Government in the case of world sustainable development reinforcing as well as global society building), 2003, Warszawa 2003.06.02.

Merkel, Angela, 2007, Speech in the name of UE and G8 Presidency, WFE Davos.

Michnowski, Leslaw, 1989, System informacyjny rozwijajacy sie jako model rozwoju systemu spoleczno-gospodarczego (Information System Under Development as model of development of socioeconomic system), w: IV Ogólnopolskie Konwersatorium nt.: "Cybernetyka, Inteligencja, Rozwoj" CIR'89, ZG PTC i COBNiD w Siedlcach, Siedlce 1989.

Michnowski, Leslaw, 1995, Jak zyc?, Ekorozwój albo … , “ (How to live?, Ecodevelopment or …, ), Wyd. “Ekonomia i Srodowisko”, Bialystok,

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Copyright © 2007 Leslaw Michnowski


Note: Due to the importance of this work, the outline for Professor Michnowski's book is shown below. The first edition in Polish is already available. To buy it contact: Professor Michnowski is looking for someone who could help him to translate and publish this book in English.



1. Global crisis or still development?
2. U-Thant warning after years
3. Old and new diagnosis of Forrester
4. After 30 years – three scenarios of Meadows
5. Unfitness to life in state of change and risk
6. China and India as factors of stability or instability of world economy?
7. Causes and results of neo-liberalism

1. Two approaches in the face of dangers for the world
2. Forms and kinds of contemporary social Darwinism
3. American opinions of globalization
4. United Nations Organization as sustainable development idea creator
5. European Union and sustainable development
6. John Paul II social learning and sustainable development
7. Responsibility of scientists

1. System analysis as base for world vision design
2. The System of Life model and overcoming the limits to growth
a) “Inertial” limit to growth
b) “Defense-environmental” limit to growth
c) “Catastrophic” limit to growth
3. Sustainable development as alternative for lack of development

1. Sustainable development Information bases
2. Vision designing as form of farsightedness as well as sustainable development foundation
3. Work for life in state of change and risk
4. Sustainable development indicators
5. Sustainable development economy model
6. Polish initiatives on sustainable development

1. Goals of strategy
2. What is more important?
3. What is more diligent?

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Proverbs 29:18




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