While discussing simplicity vs. complexity in last week’s lecture, my initial reaction was to choose simplicity for building envelopes. Bill Gates once said, “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because he will find an easy way to do it.” I was initially taken aback by this statement, but later realized that it’s probably natural for a businessman to want solutions that use less resources and take less time; essentially, Gates was choosing simplicity.
Although simplicity may seem like the obvious choice for many, I don’t believe that it is the universal answer for every problem. After reading about the current issues with agriculture in “A Question of Design” from Cradle to Cradle, I think the solution lies with diversifying U.S. crop production (therefore adding complexity). Our current system of agriculture replaces the natural complexity of ecosystems with only a handful of plant varieties to feed the population. According to Stephanie Mill’s “Peak Nature” from The Post Carbon Reader, “Nine-tenths of global livestock production is made up of only fifteen mammal and bird species, and three-quarters of our food supply comes from only twelve plant species.” William McDonough and Michael Braungart emphasize that narrowing down the natural diversity of plant and animal species only requires more human effort in terms of maintenance, labor, pesticides, and fertilizers. In this case, technology is actually simplifying the system in a negative way and decreasing resilience. The natural ecosystems that originated were much more complex, diverse, and effective than this man-made method.
Braungart, Michael, and William McDonough. Cradle to Cradle. New York City: North Point Press, 2002. Print.
The Post Carbon Reader. Healdsburg, California: Watershed Media, 2010. 100. Print