Principles of ecology

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Networks

At all scales of nature, we find living systems nesting within other living systems - networks within networks. Their boundaries are not boundaries of separation but boundaries of identity. All living systems communicate with one another and share resources across their boundaries. Cycles

All living organisms must feed on continual flows of matter and energy from their environment to stay alive, and all living organisms continually produce waste. However, an ecosystem generates no net waste, one species' waste being another species' food. Thus, matter cycles continually through the web of life. Solar Energy

Solar energy, transformed into chemical energy by the photosynthesis of green plants, drives the ecological cycles.

Partnership

The exchanges of energy and resources in an ecosystem are sustained by pervasive co-operation. Life did not take over the planet by combat but by co-operation, partnership, and networking.

Diversity

Ecosystems achieve stability and resilience through the richness and complexity of their ecological webs. The greater their biodiversity, the more resilient they will be.

Dynamic Balance

An ecosystem is a flexible, ever-fluctuating network. Its flexibility is a consequence of multiple feedback loops that keep the system in a state of dynamic balance. No single variable is maximized; all variables fluctuate around their optimal values.

Design, in the broadest sense, consists in shaping flows of energy and materials for human purposes. Ecodesign is a process in which our human purposes are carefully meshed with the larger patterns and flows of the natural world. Ecodesign principles reflect the principles of organization that nature has evolved to sustain the web of life. To practise industrial design in such a context requires a fundamental shift in our attitude towards nature. In the words of science writer Janine Benyus, it 'introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but on what we can learn from her'.9

Epilogue: Making sense

[...] As this new century unfolds, there are two developments that will have major impacts on the well-being and ways of life of humanity. Both have to do with networks, and both involve radically new technologies. One is the rise of global capitalism; the other is the creation of sustainable communities based on ecological literacy and the practice of ecodesign. Whereas global capitalism is concerned with electronic networks of financial and informational flows, ecodesign is concerned with ecological networks of energy and material flows. The goal of the global economy is to maximize the wealth and power of its elites; the goal of ecodesign to maximize the sustainability of the web of life.

These two scenarios - each involving complex networks and special advanced technologies - are currently on a collision course. We have seen that the current form of global capitalism is ecologically and socially unsustainable. The so-called 'global market' is really a network of machines programmed according to the fundamental principle that money-making should take precedence over human rights, democracy, environmental protection or any other value.

However, human values can change; they are not natural laws. The same electronic networks of financial and informational flows could have other values built into them. The critical issue is not technology, but politics. The great challenge of the twenty-first century will be to change the value system underlying the global economy, so as to make it compatible with the demands of human dignity and ecological sus-tainability [...]

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Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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