Resilience is a concept I was encouraged to look into about a year ago, with respect to land work. It is something I keep going back to whenever I start mentally going off the rails about how big and unsolvable all the big problems in the world are – I am just one person, the systems are so huge and have so much momentum, even me and all the other many, many, so many people who are making changes happen, how can we deal with this, etc. etc. etc. DOOM SPIRAL.
What I’ve concluded is that by making changes to improve the health of a system where you can, improve its resilience, that even if the calamity cannot be stopped, you can improve that system’s chances of surviving whatever calamities come along later, or – when looking at an ecosystem – the chances of some of the organisms in that location/system living longer, having an easier time surviving, etc. There is also a lot of writing out there about resilient human communities, but I haven’t read up a lot on what is going on in those terms – there IS work being done, it’s just not quite my main focus, you know?
So anyway. Here’s an article on resilience.
I like it because it isn’t TOTALLY FOCUSED on only climate change, nor is it railing about how if we focus too much on climate change, we’re neglecting other important work. I don’t understand the extremity of either view; we can and must work in multiple areas; there are people interested in focusing on one area – like, say, conservation – but putting less effort into direct global warming stuff, and vice versa.
The most urgent question today is what must be done now and in the near future to achieve major mitigation of carbon emissions. The second most urgent question is: What can we do to adapt to the inevitable effects of climate disruption already “in the pipeline”? Mitigation and adaptation go hand in hand, although adaptation without mitigation is akin to seeking a more comfortable collective suicide. Without rapidly reducing the release of greenhouse gases, conditions will become so extreme that humans and many other species will be unable to adapt and survive. The species-extinction rate is already extreme by evolutionary measure.
Mitigation and Adaptation
So, resilience must be understood as the ability to both mitigate the sources of climate change and adapt to climate disruption in just the right balance.
Like I said, most of what I pay attention to is more wild system-focused, improving their resilience – but when it comes to dealing with the big problems, that has to be done by the human community. And we need to attend to our own resilience as well, in order to be better able to deal with whatever is coming.
[The United States] can and must lead in the development of an ecological economy with appropriate infrastructure and social structure as well. That will not be easy, nor can it be accomplished by conventional means.
The current social structure is uniquely adapted to the perpetuation of the failing industrial leviathan. What David Korten calls the “Sacred Money and Markets story” sustains a social structure comprised of alienated individuals, fragmented families and communities. That social structure is dominated by a corporate state, which is driven primarily by the interests of the financial-military-corporate-political elite. Comprehensive whole-society-level mobilization and centrally coordinated action could theoretically make the most difference most quickly. One of the greatest contradictions of our current dilemma is that, the power structure steadfastly resists such action. Its capabilities include a significant potential for “command and control” over climate action. However, its interests are in continuing with “business as usual.”
Interestingly, China has a lot of command and control capability because of its one-party dictatorship. Oddly, so does the U.S. – since the two-party state operates as one corporate state. Yet, it will not take significant climate action since its interests lay in exploiting the present situation more than in human well being. Such action is in direct opposition to the short-term financial interests of the power elites to retain the system they control and from which they profit so handily.
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Change must come from people organizing themselves at the local level in a number of ways, where access to political decision-making is at least possible. Many groups in communities all over the nation, and across the planet as well, are organizing to take local actions to either resist or replace the control of their lives by the corporatocracy. If they create enough momentum, these actions will evolve into the new economy. The resulting eco-community based life in harmony with our living earth systems will become the ultimate resilience.
I know it sounds too trite to be worth much these days, but all I can think about is the bumper sticker “Think globally, act locally” slogan.