Robert Clark

photo neededIn hmolscience, Robert P. Clark (1940-), not to be confused with British chemist Robert E. Clark (1906-1984), both of whom use entropy arguments, is an American government and political scientist noted, in human thermodynamics, for his 1997 to 2001 publications on an entropy and biological forces themed model of historical globalization.

In 1997, Clark, in his The Global Imperative, argues, similar to the energetic imperative (1912) and thermodynamic imperative (1959), that it is an imperative of humankind to become global in efforts to persist against the effects of entropy; the following being his abstract: [1]

“Drawing on a variety of academic disciplines including the physical sciences, biology, anthropology, geography, economics, political science, sociology, and demography, Clark reveals the spread of humans and their cultures to be part of an ongoing struggle to supply the energy needs of an increasingly large and complex society. ‘Entropy’ and ‘thermodynamics’, terms often ignored or misunderstood by social science students, clearly frame a fascinating vision of humans’ inherent tendency toward a globalized world. Although human expansion has drawn increasing attention in the last several decades, as this tumultuous century has progressed, Clark shows that the process of globalization is not a recent concept. From the very roots of the species, humankind has been driven by a range of internal and external factors to expand in order to survive the increasing complexity of human civilization.”
The Global Imparative (1998)
Clark's 1998 The Global Imperative, where he uses general principles to argue that globalization is a natural phenomena, and not a recent one. [2]

On entropy, Clark states: [2]

Entropy, a property of matter and energy, is inextricably linked to human values and thus is central to economic processes of production and consumption.”

Citing the views of Herman Daly and James Beniger’s statement that “the one true test of a living systems is the persistence of [their] organization counter to entropy,” Clark seems to promote the view that all systems tend toward decay and disorder. [3] To counter this, he outlines his global imperative as such:

“If all systems tend toward energy loss, decay, and disorder, how is it possible for human beings to create and maintain systems as complex and as larger as, say, a great city? How can cities and civilization grow and prosper when the laws of thermodynamics say they should be decaying? The answer to these questions and the principle force compelling us to become global species lies in dissipative structures.”

On this premise, he cites Ilya Prigogine, defining dissipative structures as “the ability of complex systems to transfer their entropic costs to other parts of the universe”. He also cites the views of English-born American economist Kenneth Boulding who supposedly defines segregation of entropy as the process by which “dissipative structures allow complex systems to achieve and maintain a high level of order by dissipating their entropic tendencies, i.e. their tendencies to disorder, disorganization, and energy loss, to neighboring systems.” [2] He also cites Stuart Kauffman, and his thermodynamics-based self-organizing theories.

In 2001, Clark, in his Global Life Systems, uses primarily American biochemist Jeffrey Wicken and Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine’s 1984 Order Out of Chaos as his thermodynamics references. [4] Clark also cites British science writer Colin Tudge who in an unwritten reference to the surface law states that: [6]

“For homoeothermic land animals, the physics of heat comes into play: gravity and thermodynamics determine that, on land, body size, shape, and lifestyle are bound to be intimately linked.”

(add discussion)

Clark completed his BA in political science and Latin American studies in 1962 at Tulane University, New Orleans, and completed his MA and PhD in international studies from Johns Hopkins University. Science 1977, Clark has been a professor of government and politics at George Mason University. [5]

1. Hornborg, Alf. (2006). “Footprints in the Cotton Fields: The Industrial Revolution as Time-Space Appropriation and Environmental Load Displacement.” (abstract), Ecological Economics, Vol. 59, Issue 1, pgs. 74-81, Aug. 05.
2. Clark, Robert P. (1997). The Global Imperative: an Interpretive History of the Spread of Humankind (keyword: Thermodynamics, pgs. 2-6 ). Westview Press.
3. Beniger, James R. (1986). The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society. Harvard University Press.
4. Clark, Robert P. (2001). Global Life Systems: Population, Food, and Disease in the Process of Globalization (keywords: Thermodynamics, pgs. 12, 25-26, 28, 51, 79, 199, 293; Entropy, pgs. 8, 20, 25, 57, 280, 293). Rowman & Littlefield.
5. (a) ibid. Clark. (2001). (section: About the Author, pg. 351).
(b) Robert Clark (about) –
6. Tudge, Colin. (1997). The Time Before History: 5 Million Years of Human Impact (pg. 119). Simon and Schuster.
7. Boulding, Kenneth. (1964). The Meaning of the Twentieth Century: the Great Transition (ch. 7, esp. p. 137). Harper & Row.

External links
Clark, Robert P. (1940-) – WorldCat Identities.
Robert P. Clark (overview) – George Mason University.

TDics icon ns

More pages