And here is a write-up that Rob O'Grady just sent in, responding to some questions Jim asked, which I didn't answer as fully as I should have during the podcast.
Self-organizing Systems – Reflections on 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future
Nature is one great network of self-organizing systems. Always there is a tendency towards equilibrium. The antelopes that are slow and dull-witted are culled by the lions while the quick and sharp-witted ones survive to propagate the species. Bare rock erupted from volcanoes can become densely forested in less than a thousand years.
We might fret about climate change, but in a few million years the oceans and the organisms they contain will absorb the excess carbon we are venting into the atmosphere and plate tectonics will once again sequester it in the Earth’s crust.
There is beauty in these systems. They are efficient, and in this respect Nature, with its dynamic, constant rebalancing, serves as a model.