Fire Triangles, Bee Causes, and Leo Tolstoy
Tis the season for fires in Southern California, with reports of wildfire blazes, including images of firenados, across San Diego County capturing international attention. While news reports, as well as the District Attorney's (DA) office, focus on the "cause" of each of these fires being investigated, perhaps an errant camper or a construction site accident or arson, we might be reminded of the "fire triangle" as a model for understanding the three causes needed to initiate a fire; the right mixture of oxygen, heat, and fuel. Given the hot, dry winds, and a parched ground cover across San Diego County, the three sides of the fire triangle are well positioned to unify and terrify.
And, let's not forget the decision on the right mixture of financial resources to either prevent these fires from occurring or reduce their ability to accelerate, once identified. Will the DA's office consider, as an additional cause, the role of local voters being unwilling to approve tax proposals for a county fire department, nor approve funding for more firefighters and fire stations? Might such an investment serve to separate the sides of the fire triangle?
Meanwhile, entomologists are investigating the near 30 percent collapse of bee populations across the United States, leading to a crisis for crops requiring pollination. In a recent report, Jeff Pettis, who heads the federal government's bee research laboratory, suggests that "Rather than looking for a single chemical or class of chemicals, it is important to assess the interplay of parasites, illness, food sources, and pesticides." He added "Nobody likes that kind of complicated story, but year to year, all those factors could play into colony health."
Pettis' explanation of multiple causes follows the 1869 human condition assessment of Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace, "The combination of causes of phenomena is beyond the grasp of the human intellect. But the impulse to seek causes is innate in the soul of man. And, the human intellect, with no inkling of the immense variety and complexity of circumstances conditioning a phenomenon, any one of which may be separately conceived of as the cause of it, snatches at the first and most easily understood approximation, and says here is the cause."
If you are open to the possibilities of inquiry when exploring a system of causes of phenomena as a radical departure from seeking a singular cause, we
invite you to join us in Los Angeles, California, from June 18th through 22nd, on the campus of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). This year, our ever timely focus will be;
"Succeed with Inquiry: Insights, Knowledge, Action"
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In2:InThinking Network 2014 Forum Team