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Characteristics of Complex Systems

Burdens are shifted to the intervener

Explore CLE lessons that exemplify this characteristic

Burdens are shifted to the intervener

This characteristic is often closely related to the tradeoff between short-term and long-term goals. Both play out over time, but the presence of an intervener usually means that a form of addiction or dependence is at work. The system's natural ability to fend for itself declines over time as the addiction/dependence becomes stronger.

  • The decision to smoke cigarettes or use illegal drugs for immediate pleasure can quickly give way to addiction; more is needed to achieve the same feeling. The person's ability to function normally without the substance declines as the addiction grows stronger.



  • Farmers on worn-out or marginal land may apply fertilizer to boost their yields. It may work well for a season or two, but the soil has not been improved for the long term. Without correcting the underlying issue, the application of fertilizer must continue (in even greater amounts) for yields to be sustained.



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