Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Resilience for Dummies

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Resilience for Dummies

Article excerpt

OVER CHRISTMAS, I used my recently learned Spanish. Each time I understood a taxi driver or shopkeeper, I felt a great sense of awe. What once seemed to be a jumble of indistinguishable sounds had sub-divided into individual words. It was as if a microscope in my brain were able to bear down on the language's component parts.

Resilience is like that for me. The topic came up in an editorial board meeting a number of years ago. Although the concept intrigued me, I couldn't grasp the language. Our board members may as well have been speaking Mandarin. My hope is that this issue of Alternatives will make resilience theory comprehensible, and illustrate how important it is to a sustainable future.

The concept of resilience, when you get it, makes so much sense that you will wonder what all the fuss is about. You will likely realize that on a daily basis most of us practice resilience--or at least recognize that we should. We may not call it resilience, but every time you put money away for "a rainy day," or go for an annual check up or take a vitamin, you are making yourself resilient--to a lost job, an injury or the flu.

Our authors have applied what seems obvious in financial management to ecological systems. We lead off with Dr. C.S. (Buzz) Holling, the father of resilience theory. In an exclusive interview, Holling describes our need to introduce more resilience into how we deal with environmental challenges if we are to avoid total collapse of systems. He reminds us of what happened to the East Coast cod fishery and to the Mayans to illustrate his point. …

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