Living on the Edge

by | Jun 20, 2016 | Sustainability

Resilient infrastructure is an insurance policy – it involves building redundant infrastructure – just in case. But the word redundant immediately raises red flags in our budget-constrained times. We appear to be leaving the business case for resiliency to chance. In a BBC podcast, “Resilience: A Survivor’s Guide to Adversity” the question was asked: “Is resilience due to luck?”

Johan Rockstrom (is the Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Professor in Environmental Science at Stockholm University) gave this extremely cogent answer:

“We live in a world where efficiency and optimization is a virtue. We try to come as close as possible to this lowest marginal cost. Essentially we operate at the edge in everything we do because we assume a stability and status quo.

Now we live in a very turbulent world where change is normality and therefore we have to step back in financial systems, social systems, and ecological systems and leave ourselves a bit of buffering zone, a bit of redundancy, biodiversity. You know step back slightly and not push the climate system to its edge or the rain forest to its edge – because we don’t know.

And of course then you can say if you are at the optimized edge then you certainly need luck to stop falling over the edge, the tipping point. But if you have some distance to the escapement it may be wisdom and not luck. But you may be accused of not being as efficient (as possible) or (you may) not be so profitable.

Resilience is something that comes at an expense. You need to give yourself a wider palette of tools, some more land that you spare, some more corridors, buffer zones, all of this is part of resilience but I wouldn’t put it all down to luck.”

AutoCASE can give you the business case for the more expensive but more resilient project.It can justify the step back from the lowest marginal cost precipice.

And remember, which resiliency project to invest in requires cost benefit analysis.


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