“For biological systems, growth is straightforward,” West [Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute] says. “They eventually stop growing.
Economies of scale can only take you so far. But when
you have these superlinear exponents [exponents greater than 1], the growth equation is completely
changed. These cities can go on growing forever.”
All of this potential growth has a dark side. At a certain point, every city runs our of resources.
Their superlinear exponents, tilted toward infinity, collide with the practical demands of reality.
The positive feedback loop exhausts itself.
How do cities deal with this dismal limitation? They innovate. “The only way to avoid stagnation
from a shortage of resources,” West says, “is to change something. You have to reset the clock,
reset the initial parameters of growth. We call this an innovation cycle, and they are clearly apparent throughout history.
There’s the invention of the steam engine, the car, the digital revolution. What these advances all have in common
is that they allowed cities to continue growing.” West quotes a Bob Dylan lyric to make his point:
“He not busy being born is busy dying.” A city that isn’t innovating is on the verge of collapse,” quoting this
insightful SEED Magazine article from their July/August, 2007 edition.
Is Yelm innovating or on the verge of collapse?
Certainly gridlock, with more developments in the pipeline adding to our traffic nightmare, will choke this town before too long.
What do you think?