In our quest for a sustainable development model it is important to recognize that all efforts to date are only marginal. In other words, our behavior is only impacting outcome by degrees rather than by the orders of magnitude that are necessary to avoid collapse. One example is that the high price of fuel last year only impacted miles driven in the U.S. by 3%. In order to be sustainable -- and avoid collapse -- we can probably only drive about 3% of the miles that we drive now. To explain it in a slightly different perspective, our miles driven have to drop by about 97% rather a paltry 3%. This is only one example. In almost every aspect of our lives, we have to make a 97% change rather than a paltry 3% change. We spend a great deal of time on the 3%.
...in developing any theoretical models of living organization we cannot neglect the through-put not only of the material substance but also of information. Even the simplest living creature is an information-gathering and information-organizing structure. The through-put of information, however, is a very different process from the through-put of material substance. Material substances, in which I include energy, obey strict laws of conservation. The basic law of conservation is that the increase in anything in any system is equal to the difference between what has been taken in and what has been given out. This is true of water in a reservoir, of any element in the body, and it is true also of energy. It is not true, however, of information. The through-put of information in an organization involves a "teaching" or structuring process which does not follow any strict law of conservation even though there may be limitations imposed on it. When a teacher instructs a class, at the end of the hour presumably the students know more and the teacher does not know any less. In this sense the teaching process is utterly unlike the process of exchange which is at the basis of the law of conservation. In exchange, what one gives up another acquires; what one gains another loses. In teaching this is not so. What the student gains the teacher does not lose. Indeed, in the teaching process, as every teacher knows, the teacher gains as well as the student. In this phenomenon we find the key to the mystery of life. [p.35]
Of course, the teaching has to be centered around the aforementioned 97% change and not the 3% change.