Redundancy and Resilience

Redundancy is a marvellous buffer against shocks to the system. When the primary system breaks down, we need only switch to the backup with no great harm done – provided of course there is a backup. In this way, redundancy can be seen as a kind of insurance policy.

The big problem for us is that we’ve just spent more than sixty years systematically destroying the backup systems in the name of efficiency. Just think of the connotations of the very term: in contemporary speech, redundancy sounds by definition to be something you need to get rid of as soon as possible.

Resilience theory (see the Resilience Alliance website) observes that in social-ecological systems the moment of greatest efficiency is also the moment of greatest brittleness. Continue reading “Redundancy and Resilience”