East and West

Resilience Or Survival

As a consequence of our inaction, we are starting to see the concept of resilience replacing sustainability as a goal.

Resilience Or Survival

Many of the new ideas about sustainability and resilience are nothing more than a recognition that the old ways of living are actually good, as seen today in small villages throughout Europe, Mexico, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

In our Western culture of over-consumerism, we have actually missed the opportunity of reaching any kind of sustainability. Perhaps we never have actually understood what that concept is all about. I always thought that the original sustainable development term – which was coined 20 years ago in the 1987 UN report, Our Common Future – was a total oxymoron.

Perhaps the main reason that we never got it, is that such a level of true understanding of what is at stake requires being proactive. We need to think about the implications of our lifestyle, think about consequences. Yikes, that is too much work, so why bother? It is easier just to keep on BAUing (Business As Usual) and pretend everything is fine.

As a consequence of our inaction, we are starting to see the concept of resilience replacing sustainability as a goal.

Perhaps this is because we are finally realizing that the imminent threats of global warming, climate change, overpopulation, poverty, religious wars, peak oil, food scarcity, etc. are real. So we are now talking about the need to become resilient, to be ready to cope with all the social, economic and environmental changes and challenges that are coming.

Suddenly, a sense of urgency is in the air, and there is talk about local resilience and resilient communities. If we don’t understand these concepts, and make changes necessary for a significantly different way of life, sooner or later we will be forced into facing the next level down: becoming survival communities of sorts.

The diagram tries to graph this idea. We have already missed the sustainability plateau and we are starting the descent. Maybe we can stop the fall at the resiliency plateau. If we can’t, we will then face really difficult times.

Originally published in The Watershed Sentinel, June-July 2008

40 comments on the article “Resilience Or Survival”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 40

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stiven

that's what this site is about, stirring emotions out of readers by forcing a different perspective (not necessarily the right perspective) but going through that process is what I enjoy... if you want tips on being more sustainable go worldchanging or treehugger go to www.sustainableday.com

stiven

that's what this site is about, stirring emotions out of readers by forcing a different perspective (not necessarily the right perspective) but going through that process is what I enjoy... if you want tips on being more sustainable go worldchanging or treehugger go to www.sustainableday.com

Anonymous

If you look closely at the post 2008, downward plunge part of the graph, you will notice that the line occasionally decreases along the x-axis. That would seem to indicate that the "Growth" is able to go BACK IN TIME! Now THAT is cool! How does that work, exactly? During humanity's downward spiral to Survivor Island do we somehow manage to build time machines? And then do we put "Growth" in it to send back to ourselves a few months ago? Or did you just draw it when you were drunk?

I'd been debating deleting adbusters from my rss feed, and I think you just made up my mind.

Anonymous

If you look closely at the post 2008, downward plunge part of the graph, you will notice that the line occasionally decreases along the x-axis. That would seem to indicate that the "Growth" is able to go BACK IN TIME! Now THAT is cool! How does that work, exactly? During humanity's downward spiral to Survivor Island do we somehow manage to build time machines? And then do we put "Growth" in it to send back to ourselves a few months ago? Or did you just draw it when you were drunk?

I'd been debating deleting adbusters from my rss feed, and I think you just made up my mind.

vibes

I feel kind of privellaged to be a part of such an interesting time for the world. It would be kind of cool to be the last humans to walk the earth, if you think about it, it would be something a little different - the planets last generation.

Over consumption - I blame it on professional sports...

vibes

I feel kind of privellaged to be a part of such an interesting time for the world. It would be kind of cool to be the last humans to walk the earth, if you think about it, it would be something a little different - the planets last generation.

Over consumption - I blame it on professional sports...

Josh

We should utilize hemp fiber for fuel, building materials, clothing, paper, health, textiles and food to alleviate some of our problems. We know humans have used hemp products as far back as 8000BC. People have known for millenia that the benefits of hemp are numerous and far-reaching. North America has vast areas of land where hemp will grow abundantly. Simultaneously we should stop converting food crops into biofuel since hemp will provide an alternate source of fuel saving our crops for eating. Cars should then be produced that run on hemp-derived fuel, and made with hemp-derived products, then we can stop being as dependent on foreign oil. Many new industries based on hemp could create many thousands of jobs around the country. Millions of acres of hemp will absorb CO2 and release O2 making it a cleaner cycle of production and consumption. The applications for hemp in textile industries are vast, as well. Hemp was banned in America in 1937, then again in 1955 after it was produced to help win WWII. We need it yet again to help win this current struggle.

Josh

We should utilize hemp fiber for fuel, building materials, clothing, paper, health, textiles and food to alleviate some of our problems. We know humans have used hemp products as far back as 8000BC. People have known for millenia that the benefits of hemp are numerous and far-reaching. North America has vast areas of land where hemp will grow abundantly. Simultaneously we should stop converting food crops into biofuel since hemp will provide an alternate source of fuel saving our crops for eating. Cars should then be produced that run on hemp-derived fuel, and made with hemp-derived products, then we can stop being as dependent on foreign oil. Many new industries based on hemp could create many thousands of jobs around the country. Millions of acres of hemp will absorb CO2 and release O2 making it a cleaner cycle of production and consumption. The applications for hemp in textile industries are vast, as well. Hemp was banned in America in 1937, then again in 1955 after it was produced to help win WWII. We need it yet again to help win this current struggle.

GeesBees

Professionally, I've moved in ten years from building windfarms and macroscale green infrastructure, through corporate CSR change amd sustainability to diconnecting, deteching and resilience training. I've advised Prime Ministers, Executive leaders, State and Municipalities - most get it but nearly all lack the moral, rational thinking and courage required to change.

I look to the military think tanks, academia, big oil like BP and Japanese companies for leadership on scenario planning and strategic foresight (while avoiding survivalist militias and ghetto thinking!).

Personal change and enhancement(spiritual,physical mental,emotional)coupled with networked support groups provides some buffer. We also have to evangelise change across all society in a way that is positive. We still need an element of economic resilience though!

GeesBees

Professionally, I've moved in ten years from building windfarms and macroscale green infrastructure, through corporate CSR change amd sustainability to diconnecting, deteching and resilience training. I've advised Prime Ministers, Executive leaders, State and Municipalities - most get it but nearly all lack the moral, rational thinking and courage required to change.

I look to the military think tanks, academia, big oil like BP and Japanese companies for leadership on scenario planning and strategic foresight (while avoiding survivalist militias and ghetto thinking!).

Personal change and enhancement(spiritual,physical mental,emotional)coupled with networked support groups provides some buffer. We also have to evangelise change across all society in a way that is positive. We still need an element of economic resilience though!

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