For 3.5 billion years life has not only sustained itself, but has thrived on this planet. To create sustainable systems we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we only need to embrace the foundational scientific principles that govern sustainability in all living systems. This presentation covers three of these foundational principles: the law of limits to growth, the second law of thermodynamics and its realtionship to entropy, and the law of self-organization. Examples of how these laws work in the natural world will be used to show how they can be applied to human systems like a community or an economy.

Tom Wessels is an ecologist and founding director of the master’s degree program in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. He is the current chair of The Center for Whole Communities that fosters inclusive communities that are strongly rooted in place and where all people—regardless of income, race, or background—have access to and a healthy relationship with land.


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