In Section 1 you learnt that individuals have distinct thinking styles and intelligences. From a reductionist point of view, one may label this fact as pejorative, but if one appreciates that there is a limit to our individual cognitive abilities, then allowing people to develop different traits is an advantage when we can find ways of constructively working together. In Section 2 you started to map out the intricate relationships across a range of scales which have combined to threaten the health and long-term viability of our social and natural systems. In Section 3 you explored a number of indices that are helpful for giving us an alternative non-economic assessment of our well-being and environmental impact. In Section 4 you expanded this static ‘snapshot’ into one which is underpinned by dynamic feedbacks. In Section 5 you explored how simple structures and feedback relationships can result in very different, and often unpredictable, behaviours over time.
Section 6 has a single major activity, Activity 6A, which attempts to integrate the range of concepts and skills that you have learnt during your study of this block. The challenge is to collaboratively create a shared dynamic understanding of the Earth system using a range of communication techniques. As we are dealing with a highly complex situation that is constantly changing, there is no expectation that this ‘shared understanding’ will ever be completed. Yet, the journey is more important than the destination: in engaging with this activity you will be developing your skills as a systems thinker and communicator which you can then apply to other highly complex and dynamic situations.