Five Key Elements of Resilience

reset the worldToday is Thursday, March 20, 2014.

The other day I wrote that Gregg Braden’s concept of resilience, as defined in his book, The Turning Point: Creating Resilience in a Time of Extremes, is not just the ability to recover from a disaster, but the ability to plan ahead for a disaster so that we can survive it and move on without waiting for the world to get back to “normal.”  The reason for this is that Braden feels that changes we are seeing in climate, the economy, population, and energy consumption are such that there is no going back to any perceived “normal” of the past.

Barring a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, the population of the world is not going to go down anytime soon.  The number of mega-storms and extreme drought or flooding in the world is increasing, regardless of the reason.  The major stock exchanges may be doing a booming business at the moment, but the economies of many nations are precarious at best, and because of the global nature of the financial markets today, one more collapse may signal a worldwide economic disaster.  The world’s energy requirements show no sign of decreasing, and the current dependence on fossil fuels is unsustainable.  None of these situations seems likely to go back to the way they were in the past.  Any one of these situations could come to a crisis point at any time.  The key will be for human beings to withstand whatever happens, and the most prudent scenario is to proactively build some safeguards into our systems so that we will be able to get through any crisis.  In his book, Braden identifies five key elements that form the basis of the type of resilience that we should be cultivating.

Spare Capacity

Mega-st0rms and temperature extremes sometimes necessitate energy blackouts.  How long can you do without power?  What plans do you have in place in case of a power outage?  What if gasoline is rationed?  What if vital supplies of fresh food and medicines are cut off?   How long can you and your family survive if your regular routine is disrupted?

More and more people are looking into electric generators, canning foods, dehydrating vegetables for storage, and storing food basics such as flour and dried beans.  More people are storing drinking water and medical supplies, just in case.  People are learning to keep candles and matches at the ready.  People are learning to create box gardens, square-foot gardens, raised bed gardens, and hydroponic gardens to grow some of their food.  A recent Upworthy article asked a pointed question: “How long would we last if all grocery stores ceased to exist?”  Food for thought!  (Pun intended.)

Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability to change, evolve, and adapt in a disaster.  What are “mission critical” systems and how can they be protected?  What if Plan A doesn’t work?  What if Plan B and Plan C don’t work, either?  What is priority and what is expendable?  How long is your backup plan designed to last?  What if you need to make a permanent change in your routines as a result of a disaster?  These are all questions to ask yourself if you want to increase your level of flexibility to meet future challenges.

Limited or “Safe” Failure

The question to ask yourself here is, “How much can you afford for this system to fail?”  The answer to that will determine what backup systems you need to put in place in case of disaster. Here’s a sample situation Braden brought up: Let’s say you have a backup well in case your normal water supply is disrupted.  What if the electrical grid also fails?  Will you be able to access the water in your backup well if the electricity goes down?  In other words, when you are thinking about what things might fail, have you considered whether two or three things might fail all at the same time?  What is the worst-case scenario?

Rapid Rebound

This is the ability to resume function if a system is disrupted.  How many of your routines could you continue if there were a disaster?  How could you develop new routines that would keep you going in a catastrophe?  How fast can you snap back from a major disaster?

Constant Learning with Feedback Loops

Once the immediate danger has passed, how can you assess your success or failure to adapt to the problem.  For example, if you got caught in a power outage and realized that your generator did not last long enough to get you through the whole ordeal, how can you plan for the possibility that you might face another power outage that long or even longer?  If you canned some food and realized that some of it has begun to spoil, how will you review your canning process to learn what you did wrong?  If you successfully made it through an extreme weather crisis, for example what worked especially well?  How can you share your tips for success with others in your community?   🙂

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