Casaubon's Book

Longtime readers will know I’m a deep admirer of _The Automatic Earth_ where Stoneleigh and Ilargi do economic analysis. I think Stoneleigh has outdone herself this time, with a primer on resilience, cycles and where we’re headed. Definitely worth a read – probably two reads.

I particularly like this bit of work on resilience, which clarifies and expands slightly on Buzz Holling’s.

Resilience arises from a redundancy that has the appearance of inefficiency and a lack of critical structural dependency on specialized hierarchy, neither of which conditions are likely to be met at the peak of the growth phase of an adaptive cycle. For these to be achieved from this point at least a partial, or localized, collapse to a simpler level of organization would have to occur. There can potentially be a fine line between a retreat from rigidity to this level of resilience and a ‘poverty trap’, where a collapse has proceeded so far and so fast that the system has been stripped of the wealth (biological or otherwise) that it would need to rebuild. Where adaptive cycles have become synchronized, so that the likelihood of deep collapse is increased, striking a balance of resilience would be far more difficult.

I’ve rarely seen such a clear analysis of why most of our solutions to our problems are doomed to failure – and why getting a balance between retreat and collapse is so very hard. Do read the whole thing!