Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Resilience

We keep coming up with new words for the same thing, to cover them, to cloud them, to avoid connotations that have developed over time.  Over time.  That is the key. 

In the 60s we came up with a new concept of trying to save the planet from ourselves.  The Environment.  People who embraced this ideal were called Environmentalists.  People who eschewed this inconvenient ideal called them Radical Environmentalist.  Soon they were both lumped together and people assumed that if you were and Environmentalist you were Radical.  We tend to polarize these days and there is no middle of the road anymore.  You were either Anti-Environment or radical environment.  It’s like when you were either a fascist-capitalist-pig-dog or commie-pinko-fag-socialist.  I blame Bush, and FOX.

That E word would not do.  So we needed a name change, a re-branding.  Along came Sustainability as an ideal based on trying to keep what we have and make it last, over time.  Maintainable, supportable viable, stability.  Our earth and our resources are limited so we have to get our use and destruction rate in balance with our existing inventory and creation of new resources.  Sustainability is basically the first derivative of environmentalist.  Minimizing long term changes in our environment.  It is Environmentalism over time.  De/Dt.

Well it worked for a while and everything became Sustainable and the Anti-Environmentalist didn’t even notice.  Cities and companies had sustainability divisions and universities had sustainability departments, majors and degrees.  It was a universally accepted buzzword like ‘Transparency’ or ‘Teams’ or ‘Creative Thinking’ or ‘thinking outside the box’ and everyone jumped on the band wagon.  Who could not like Sustainability?  It’s like mother, apple pie, babies or puppy dogs and it sounds good, makes sense and is hard to throw rocks at it.  How can you be Anti-Sustainable?  The opposite is not an option for if we don’t sustain, we die. 

But Sustainability got old and hackneyed and people started to make fun of it and hate it.  It got too hard to do.  So we got a new word.  Resilience.  This came about when we gave up on Sustainability and started talking about adapting to a changing world and climate we could not or would not sustain.  We will just have to get used to it because we are tough and hard yet pliable and supple.  We can change over time and adapt.  It’s another great word everyone likes and the opposite – defeatism – is not an option here in the greatest country on earth.  It’s a manly characteristic and another one that is hard to shoot down.  Resilience is therefore the second derivative of Environmentalism and the first of Sustainability.  It is the change in our Sustainability over time.  Ds/Dt.

The second derivative is where all the action and the fun is.  Like acceleration or compound interest or tipping point climate change.  The change in the change.  Change is accelerating and is no longer linear, or geometric or even exponential, its factorial.  I can’t wait to see what word they come up with next.