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Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action


Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action
Planetary boundaries of the environmental system
Necessity for urgent action, globally, regionally and locally
Global remedial action boundaries
Substantiating the remedial capacity boundaries
Polyocular strategic vision
Systemic isomorphism
Representation of boundaries of coherence of complex systems
In quest of systemic functional connectivity

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A team of 26 scientists, led by Johan Rockstrom and Will Steffen, and centered on the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Stockholm Environment Institute, have produced a report entitled Planetary Boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity (2009), also available under the same title in Ecology and Society. This was presented at the Club of Rome General Assembly (Amsterdam, 2009). It has been separately summarized as The Nine Planetary Boundaries. These boundaries are necessarily environmental constraints and boundary conditions, and the focus was on the degree to which they are already exceeded or in process of being exceeded. A summary of the study has been provided by Fred Pearce (From Ocean to Ozone: Earth's nine life-support systems, New Scientist).

In discussion of action to constrain the marked tendency to exceed these boundaries, and the initiatives which might be collectively undertaken, the point was made that a complementary analysis was necessary. This would explore indications of remedial capacity in the light of the track record of collective action, namely the probability that any advocated collective action could be effectively undertaken -- even if agreement was reached on what needed to be done.

The argument developed here is that the focus of analysis on what appears to need to be done, however urgently, needs a higher order of realism and constraint recognition -- in the light of demonstrated capacity for collective action on a global scale. The approach follow from a much earlier exploration of Remedial Capacity Indicators Versus Performance Indicators (1981) for a meeting on social indicators of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the United Nations University (Warsaw, 1981) -- later incorporated into Insights into Maldevelopment: reconsidering the idea of progress (Edited by Jan Danecki).

The method here is to use the exemplary analysis and representation of "planetary boundaries" of the more tangible environmental systems as a form of template -- if only as a suggestive metaphor -- to provide a means of focusing on the essentially intangible "psychosocial boundaries" which undermine collective global initiatives.

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