The Ecologist: The Challenge of Solving Ecological Problems

The Ecologist talks about the environmental issues facing England and the U.S., and what steps we must take to avoid ecological disaster.

| November/December 1971

The Ecologist is an environmental monthly published in England, consistently runs lucid, well-reasoned observations on the "fine mess" we've all gotten ourselves into. We'd like to introduce you to the magazine with the following editorial that appeared in the August 1971 issue . . . it's one of the most concise, level-headed overviews of England's (and our) ecological problems we've seen.

The Vessel Without a Pilot

It is sheer illusion to suppose that our Government is controlling this society.

Yet unless it is controlled, it cannot remain stable, which is the same as saying that it cannot survive.

Control is the process of keeping a system on its right course. This implies that it has a right course. The fact that it has is one of the most important and least recognised scientific principles. All systems including social ones are goal-directed and their goal being spatiotemporal is in fact a course or trajectory—a "creode" as Professor Waddington calls it. This course leads towards continued or in some cases increased stability which is to say that it is the one most favouring survival.

Unfortunately, control mechanisms can occasionally break down, and this is what has happened to our society, which is increasingly out of control, and which can be likened to a vessel without a pilot whose aimless course is determined by the random play of winds and currents.

Absence of control is evident in everything our Government does.

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