Building Resilience: Meeting Peak Everything With Systems Thinking
With glaciers and arctic ice melting at unprecedented rates, with traditional politicians all but ignoring the threat of peak oil, with food getting ever more expensive and with extinction rates threatening global productivity, the modern world can sometimes feel like a scary place. How do we respond to all of these different challenges, and how do we know which crisis to prioritize first? In the light of so many different, yet interconnected pressures on our current social and economic structures, many folks concerned with sustainability are beginning to explore the concept of resilience in more detail — that is, the idea of not just tackling a problem like climate change or peak oil alone, but instead beginning to restructure our human-made systems so they are stronger, more adaptable, and able to withstand multiple shocks or pressures. Rob Hopkins, of the magnificent Transition Towns Movement, talked a little bit about building local resilience here, but for those wanting to explore the concept further, the UK Systems Society is holding a 3 day conference entitle "Building Resilience" at the University of Oxford this September. This from the conference flyer:
"We experience a world full of turbulence. In the early years of the 21st century, we can point to many examples of this turbulence: flooding and associated devastation; cyber systems which leave us vulnerable to identity theft and fraud; instability in financial systems causing customers to mistrust their banks. We cannot hope to anticipate, still less control, every source of instability. However, we can aspire to build resilience. We can seek to create human-made systems which, when they fail, fail 'gracefully'. We can seek to anticipate the consequences of natural calamities on all sectors of society, and ensure that we are ready to deal with them. Systems thinking and appropriate tools for systemic practice can help in this endeavour."