To paraphrase Darwin, it’s not the fastest, strongest or most intelligent that will prosper, but those that are most adaptable to change. When considering the environmental, political and other challenges facing our society, it's not immediately clear who will successfully adapt. Or more specifically, which sectors and countries will thrive and remain competitive? How can complex systems adapt to the massive, and accelerating, changes the world is undergoing?
This blog will examine these questions, organized around a couple of key topics:
- Corporate and political decision-making: How existing decision-making and risk analysis processes and tools do not fully account for the challenges we are facing, and how they can adapt.
- Adaptive economy: How our (food, energy, financial, etc.) systems, economies, sectors and companies can become more adaptive and resilient in the face of increased uncertainty and change.
There are several key assumptions that will underpin this blog:
- Climate change is already occurring, which will increase temperatures and destabilize the climate.
- We are running out of “cheap” (easy to access) energy.
- Many forces (increasing population, rising energy demand, centralization, scarcity, climate change) combine to result in vulnerable systems.
Our world depends on stability – climatic, access to resources, and so on. Take any of those away, and see how quickly systems can break down. Our economies and societies thrive on constancy and predictable outcomes. We are lucky to still be in a period of relative stability. But that could soon change without warning. The longer we delay; the costs of adaptation will only rise, while the range of options will narrow. Recent events in Japan provide a reminder, as Bill McKibben noted, of the “thinness of the margin on which modernity lives”. We need to build resiliency and flexibility into our systems now, so that they can withstand unexpected shocks, and also to adapt to the new environmental reality.