Assignment 2 – The Bay Game

1-My role in the bay game was a Watermen in York. I was not really surprised by the fact that me, as a watermen, did not have many decisions to make. There were literally two or three options in my baygame tableau de bord-dashboard. I mean, let’s think: What can a Watermen really do besides getting fish and crab? Not much, indeed. We, the watermen are at the lowest level of the baygame hierarchy. We do not have much power of decision. We are at the end, meaning that watermen cannot be really proactive. Watermen are really in a way just responding to the consequences of the larger system that runs Chesapeake Bay.

I diagrammed the point of view of the watermen, and their immediate context. In this diagram I was interest in showing the factors that directly affect the « routine » of the watermen and how the things they produce return to the system in form of taxes. The diagram starts with what produces phosphorus. The main factors are Animal Excrement and Agricultural Waste. Those two « assets » are stored into the ground (stock), [sometimes even thrown directly into water]. Processes such as erosion transport phosphorus into rivers and finally into the bay(another stock).  The health of underwater kingdom creatures such as crab and fish and mermaids is directly related to the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in water. So depending on what kind of agriculture is being practiced by crop farmers et cetera(what kind of chemical products they’re using ; the intensity-things that are regulated by policy makers) the population of these underwater creatures will go up or down( The latter is the usual outcome, unfortunately).

This population is related to the profit the watermen will make, so: Low bayhealth levels becomes Low population of marine animals equals low profit equals inability to pay taxes. This creates an inefficient system. So in order to make the Cheesecake…I mean Chesapeake Bay a healthy system, everyone member of « this game » should make the right decisions at the right time.

2-Reiterating what I said before, watermen did not have many decisions to make. I was given a quite passive role.  So as the years went by in the baygame, I realized that most of my results would depend mainly on the decisions made not only by my York mates but also on the decisions made by every single group in room 153. I had basically to respond to these decisions; if the income was going down I would buy less fishing gear, but in the long term that decision affect my capacity to catch the marine creatures. It’s a chain effect. Even though I had little to think about other than fish, crab and rum, I realized that all the different factors in the Cheesecake bay system are interconnected.

3- As we noticed in the baygame exercise, significant changes in the outcomes of the bay system are not easily achieved. At the end of that class we made a comparison of our game outcomes to the real-world outcomes, and surprisingly; they were not much different. Ok, ours was a little bit better but not significantly better. In any case, Meadows talks about leverage points; which are some small decisions that can change the course of the system significantly. The question here is how to identify them? How to know which behaviours would really be significant for a better bay, country or world? Mr. Sherman said in class that even if every building in this planet was made « sustainable » there would not be much different (at least in what concerns global warming). Therefore I think it is critical for us to find these leverage points. There are many ways to go about this issue; one is to change the farming culture. What if they were all organic and used less pesticides? It is argueable that this could become as harmful as the current one. I think the answer to this question is balance. In my mind none of the ways are exactly perfect for improving the bay system, none of them are a leverage point in themselves. I think that the leverage point secret is in to what extent they are implemented. In other words, I do not think regulators should make everything « go green » (such a overused expression!) but rather than that, they should look for the right point; in order to make a smooth transition.

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