This paper uses a case study on the evolution of the Rhine river delta to illustrate the coevolution of the environment, the technology used to exploit it, and the institutions governing it. Three strands are interwoven:
The ultimate cause is the interaction between human cognition and action. Our cognition is limited in the number of dimensions it can simultaneously handle, and our action (directly or indirectly) affects all the dimensions of the complex adaptive system that is the environment, triggering unintended consequences, and new actions. This feedback takes the system from perceived challenges to solutions to new, unintended challenges, driving the region further and further from its point of departure, towards the bottom of the sea.
Authors: Sander van der Leeuw