Confessions of a Systems Thinking Geek

Time for true confessions . . . I am an unabashed systems thinking geek. It probably started when I worked for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Senior management hired Daniel Kim, protégé of Peter Senge, the person who wrote The Fifth Discipline, to lead an organisational reform effort.

So, I read an article in the 22 April 2022 edition of the NYT by David Marchese entitled This Eminent Scientist Says Climate Activists Need to Get Real, with great interest. The article was QA with a scientist named Vaclav Smil.

Vaclav Smil

In response to a question, in which Marchese referred to climate change as an imminent catastrophe, Smil noted that it is not our only global problem. About one billion people are either undernourished or malnourished. And, because of the war in Ukraine, we are facing the possibility of nuclear war.

We cannot do three things at the same time, Smil stated. So who, he asked, decides what is imminent?

As a systems thinking geek, I do not accept Smil’s assumption that we cannot do three things at the same time. One of the things that I love about systems thinking is that it rejects either/or, in favour of both/and thinking. This is a fundamental principle that underpins CCPP’s strategy. By creating a critical mass of farmers who will adopt regenerative farming practices we hope to help to reverse the effects of climate change AND, at the same time, to help address food insecurity. AND working on those two imminent problems may actually help to create an enabling environment for world peace.[1]


[1] `They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore’ Isaiah 2:4

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