The definition of resilience in ecological literature has a notable relationship with disturbance and state of systems. Iconic Canadian ecologist C.S.Holling introduced resilience, several decades ago (Folke 6). Holling (1973) defined resilience as, “a measure of the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables” (14). However, various arguments and theories have emerged from different ecological theorists. Carlson (2012) defines resilience as, “the ability of an entity e.g., asset, organization, community, region to anticipate, resist, absorb, respond to, adapt to, and recover from a disturbance.” Mooney and Canadell (2002) define, “engineering resilience is the time of return to a global equilibrium” (1). Ecological resilience is the quantity that a system can absorb before its state is altered or compelled to change (Ungar 3). Adaptive capacity of a system enables it to get used to turbulent and dynamic environment surrounding it (Folke 6). Ecological systems are works of nature that are thought of as next to stable steady-state. Major ecological theories have a common point in the idea of return to a steady state after disturbance. Adaptability to dynamism is a key reason governing social-ecological resilience that determines the well-being of a society inhabiting a certain ecosystem (Greene 328).
In order to be able to manage complex issues and systems, it is vital to understand the word resilience and its application in engineering, ecology, and social-ecology. The ability or the potential to return to steady state after disturbance is the character of resilience. There are two major area of concern in engineering resilience: information technology and organizational systems (Scheffer 77). The capacity of an organization to overcome threats by either adapting or absorbing the disturbance is consider in organizational resilience (VanBreda 1). Mitigation actions or preventive measures on hazardous and unsafe conditions that pose threat to organizations and information technology are factored in studying engineering resilience.
Ecological and engineering resilience differs thinly in the approach of regaining stability (Scheffer 23). Engineering is a field that deals with creation of systems through scientific innovations. However, there is significant relationship between engineering and ecological resilience that makes them relate in many areas (Alliance 7). It is quite evident that environmental science relies heavily on engineering. Creation of ecological theories heavily derives its prominence from the quantitative rather than qualitative analysis of biota (Greene 332). Certainly, quantitative analysis is quite essential in creation of these theories and derives its strength from physical science, which is a basic component in engineering field (Alliance 8). Synthetic systems being products of engineering affect ecological systems. Therefore, ecological and engineering resilience have a kind of synergistic relationship. Engineering resilience concentrates its focus in maintaining efficiency of systems while on the other hand, ecological resilience endeavors to maintain the existence of the functions themselves.
The people who use social-ecological resilience have a tendency of exploring behaviors of systems near a known stable state (Folke 6). However, engineers endeavor to come up with optimal designs that normally make use of mathematical theories to achieve the near equilibrium behavior (Scheffer 78). There are assumptions from the engineering perspective that ecosystem has one equilibrium steady state and therefore, in working towards achieving this state, all other states are avoided (Mooney and Canadell 1).
The world population is growing at an alarming rate and therefore the need to meet the demands of the growing population that has increased significantly. High population imposes pressure on the available natural resources as human activities like cultivation, building, road contraction, and others impose negative impacts on ecosystem. Pollution, deforestation, and other harmful human activities have led to changes in the environment hence affecting the climatic conditions (Folke 6). Huge costs have been incurred in reengineering of environmental systems to bring about human induced climatic conditions. However, wide degradation of dry land ecosystem has become a threat to human existence and lead to failure of major environmental systems (Alliance 5). Those who support ecological resilience look for an alternative stable state considering the properties of their boundaries. Ecological perspective assumes that adaptiveness is the match between individual needs and coping capacities with environmental resource and support (Greene 328). The idea that people continue to manage their affairs despite high level of stress is central to the risk and resilience approach.
Human activities cause disturbance to the ecological system. Once the disturbance has taken effect, resilience is determined by the magnitude of the disturbance which can be absorbed so that the ecosystem regains its original structure (Walker and David 2). In this case, certain variabled must be changed and the processes that control the behavior altered. Activities by human beings cause degradation of biodiversity, increase pollution, anthropogenic climatic changes and misuse of natural resources leading to regime shift in the nature of ecosystem. Regime shifts comes as large, sudden and persistent changes that alters the concept and the nature of a system (Walker and David 2). However, nature has its own way regenerating itself to ensure sustainability of equilibrium. Once the pace of degradation supersedes regeneration, a major crisis is bound to occur. Therefore, order to match this pace, human efforts that involve engineering strategies are involved in order to ensure the equilibrium of the systems is regained (Scheffer 75). This becomes adaptive cycle, which compelled human beings to adapt to the environmental changes through a succession of phases (Scheffer 77). Introduction of adaptive cycle by Holling (1973) portrays a general characteristic of dynamism in ecosystem with four important phases, “exploitation, conservation, release and reor-rganization”(18).
Describe a system of your choice
In order to elaborate system appropriately, I consider a city as an example of open system. Open systems have boundaries which can allow exchange of important materials, information, data, resources and energy with the surrounding environment. These systems have free interaction or interface with the surrounding, allowing inputs from the surrounding and giving back output to the surrounding (Folke 259).
Argue for it being a system
A system is defined as an arrangement of related processes and elements to satisfy operational need and ensure life cycle of the result is sustained (Scheffer 23). Various activities in a city indicate that it is an open system. There are vehicles that carry people to the city while building shelters the people within the city as they work to maintain the standards of the city. Exchange of services and goods take place on a daily basis as things are allowed to enter and leave the city.
Describe what you think this system looks like (i.e. what features the system has) when it is resilient
A resilient system must have the ability to portray homeostasis, which is the potential to regain internal steady-state after disturbance. A city should have proper drainage systems and gardens to ensure that biodiversity is conserved. Pollution should be minimized to levels that are adequate to the cycle of environmental systems. Cleanness should be maintained to ensure the citizens are protected from diseases that are associated with untidiness.
Systems have boundaries which protects internal conditional and across which communication can take place. The boundaries are used to identify its component and separate it from other systems. A city should have protected territories top prevent inversion by unauthorized person. This can be ensured by having security checkpoints at every inlet to the city. Proper screening should be conducted on the inlets to ensure safety from hazardous weapons. This can prevent the system from terrorist attack
There should be risk mitigation plans to ensure safety and quick recovery incase calamities like flood, earthquakes, and hurricanes strike the city. Proper maintenance policies and risk management plans should be used to ensure that all the resources within the city are in good conditions. Environmental policies and laws are necessary in ensuring maintenance of important biodiversity, which protects the ecosystem. The leader in the city must portray integrity and good accountability to ensure good utilization of the available resources within the city.
What role do you think planners (can/should) have (i.e. how planners should work, what they should do) when making your system resilient.
Planners should factor in the importance of resilience in order to maintenance life and ensure balance of nature. Ignoring the aspect of resilience may mean allowing deterioration of fundamental factor that maintains living conditions on earth (Holling 13). Major crisis would make the earth to become void and valueless, if life would be destroyed from it (Walker and David 2). Once the ecological systems are destroyed, humanity is threatened with unpredictable climatic conditions and unbearable conditions because of interference in the steady state equilibrium (Cumming 13). Planners must demonstrate strength in order to be able to rise above adversity. Engineering practice tries to resist the disruption in order to ensure sustainability of systems though it proves to be a challenging task. Instead, engineers should come up with systems that have in-built mechanisms to retain their form or change in a manner that ensures resilience is applicable.
When making systems, the planners should consider the probable risks likely to be encountered. Normally every system is subject to test by the environmental changes and other hazardous risks (Folke 260). When designing any system, engineers should factor in the environmental challenges and risks to include vital components that can dump the disturbances. However, for a dynamic environment, it is appropriate to design systems that are compatible to the changes that take place.
Engineer should make use of fundamental knowledge of mathematics, physics, biology, physiology, computer, statistic, chemistry, mechanics and psychology to make systems with hazard protective designs to enable the systems have the ability to maintain their usefulness in challenging moments. The systems should be designed in a manner that will respond appropriately to failure in order to avoid causing harm or minimize the harm (Cumming 17).
Adger, W. Neil. “Social and ecological resilience: are they related?.” Progress in human geography 24.3 (2000): 347-364.
Alliance, Resilience. “Assessing resilience in social-ecological systems: Workbook for practitioners.” Version 2 (2010): 54.
Carlson, J. L., et al. Resilience: Theory and Application. No. ANL/DIS-12-1. Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), 2012.
Carpenter, Steve, et al. “From metaphor to measurement: resilience of what to what?.” Ecosystems 4.8 (2001): 765-781.
Cumming, Graeme S. Spatial Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011. Internet resource.
Folke, Carl. “Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social–ecological systems analyses.” Global environmental change 16.3 (2006): 253-267.
Greene, Roberta R. Human Behavior Theory & Social Work Practice. New Brunswick, N.J: AldineTransaction, 2008. Internet resource.
Holling, C.S.. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4, 1973. pp.1-23.
Scheffer, Marten. Critical Transitions in Nature and Society. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.
Ungar, Michael. The Social Ecology of Resilience: A Handbook of Theory and Practice. New York: Springer, 2012. Internet resource.
VanBreda, Adrian DuPlessis. Resilience Theory: A Literature Review: With Special Chapters on Deployment Resilience in Military Families & Resilience Theory in Social Work. South African Military Health Service, 2001.
Walker, B H, and David Salt. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. Internet resource.
Walker, Brian, and David Salt. Resilience thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world. Island Press, 2006.
Walker, Brian, and Jacqueline A. Meyers. “Thresholds in ecological and socialecological systems: a developing database.” Ecology and society 9.2 (2004): 3.
Wilkinson, Cathy. “Social-ecological resilience: Insights and issues for planning theory.” Planning Theory 11.2 (2012): 148-169.
Wilkinson, Cathy. “Social-ecological resilience: Insights and issues for planning theory.” Planning Theory 11.2 (2012): 148-169.