“Learning to Bounce Back”

An op-ed in the New York Times, titled “Learning to Bounce Back”, makes a comparison and contrast between the notions of “sustainability” and “resilience”.  It comes from just around the time of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York City, so some of its points are tied to that, but many apply more widely.

From the article: “Today, precisely because the world is so increasingly out of balance, the sustainability regime is being quietly challenged, not from without, but from within. Among a growing number of scientists, social innovators, community leaders, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropies, governments and corporations, a new dialogue is emerging around a new idea, resilience: how to help vulnerable people, organizations and systems persist, perhaps even thrive, amid unforeseeable disruptions. Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world. ”

Read the whole article here.  What do you think?   Is the contrast a realistic one?  How might it be understood mathematically?  What policy consequences might follows from prioritizing “sustainability” over “resilience” or vice versa?


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