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Why I don’t use the word “resilience.”

And how we might frame the challenge instead

My core beef with the word “resilience” (as it’s usually used in sustainability discussions) is that it implies that resilience is a quality with which current systems can be imbued.

It implies the actions we need to take are ones that can result in continuity with today’s expectations, despite massive planetary changes, economic shifts and technological accelerations. There’s a sense that resilience in human systems is something we can gradually add, an approach that we can slowly evolve in order to hold change and its impacts to a minimum.

Where — as I see it — both the impacts we face and the changes we must make will be experienced as discontinuous, abrupt and very disruptive. I have a hard time thinking of a single system we depend on that isn’t in for major, difficult change over the coming decades.

I much prefer “ruggedization” myself: the art of rebuilding systems to make them impervious to expected shocks.

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