May 11, 2012
By Matt Palmer
After my last post, a commenter called my blog “critical babble”. Fair enough, I cannot argue how someone feels about my writing, in fact, I encourage dissenting opinions, and honest debate over the written and filmed content I produce. The respondent (they posted with an anonymous email) went on to say that if I had some potential answers, I would be worth listening to. While I do not pretend to have any answers, I do hope I am inspiring readers here to embrace systems thinking as we approach solutions. Systems thinking is not an answer itself, but a framework to help design rational and pragmatic solutions to the complex area of energy.
I get the point about “critical babble” in that it is easy to sit back and poke holes in proposals like the one presented by Amory Lovins. It is also easy to sit back and be a cheerleader and not question the efficacy of a plan presented by a respected individual or institution. The best solutions come from continually questioning, probing, pushing to see where things break and where they can evolve and get better.
There is a lot of critical babble out there. News sites are filled with contrarian pundits. I don’t usually spend much time reading comments sections on news and other websites, because so many of the comments tend towards being unconstructive, disrespectful, and polarizing. It is nice to see when there are thoughtful and considerate people making an effort to further a debate.
Where do solutions come from? Sometimes the best solutions come from experts with a complex and profound understanding of the issues and challenges. The Systems Thinkers with a great capacity for big visions and divergent thought. And, every once in a while, amazing breakthroughs come from outsiders with no knowledge, who can look at a problem and see something that none of the experts could see or understand. Solutions might also be spurred by invigorating debate where all ideas and proposed solutions are challenged, and as long as things are respectful, no idea is off-limits and there are no sacred solutions.
We can let fear of a different idea hold us back, or feel uncomfortable when someone challenges our core beliefs, but will that allow us to live to our greatest potential? I hate being controlled by fear, and honestly, creating this project, writing what I write forces me to confront those fears. It does not mean we have to throw caution to the wind, but it does mean we need to peer into the shadows more.