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The Earth is a complex system. There are thousands of different factors (“variables” in systems terms) that contribute to the response of this system. Some factors are major contributors, while others are minor. Right now, we are witnesses to a great experiment that humankind is inflicting on our planet. Modern humankind is radically altering many of the significant variables that contribute to the stability and response of the magnificent system called planet Earth.



No one knows for sure the final outcome of this great experiment, but both the computer model predictions and the preliminary changes that we are currently seeing point to very disturbing future developments. To get some idea of what scientists are talking about when they refer to systems theory, systems modeling, and systems response, let’s take a look at a relatively simple system that most of us are familiar with—the automobile.

Car, Traffic, Man, Hurry, Steering Wheel, Dusk, Modern


A modern automobile employs shock absorbers and suspension springs to give us a smooth ride. Shock absorbers dampen shocks that the automobile receives to its wheels as it drives over bumps in the road. Without shock absorbers, a car bounces so much that it is almost impossible to control. The automobile system without adequate shock absorbers is “underdamped.” The automobile hits a bump and starts bouncing; before it can stop bouncing from the first bump, it hits a second bump, and so on.

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