Class 22 (04/02/2018): Developing Options: Avoiding Adaptation or Changing Paradigms, Resilience and Anti-Fragility

Class slides


Despite abundant evidence that the Earth's life support system is rapidly degrading and that the degradation is accelerating, there is solid resistance to both mitigation and adaptation. In many cases, communities are not ready to accept the evidence and make evidence-informed decision, which would require significant changes in land use, use of resources, and moral changes. Is it an acceptable approach to wait for events to get more extreme before adaptation measures are being taken? Options for adaptation often imply the changing of existing paradigms. Moreover, exploring different options requires some tools to explore possible futures and to generate the transformation knowledge required to change the system trajectory towards a desirable future. Assessing which options are viable necessitates the involvement of stakeholders in the process of developing options. "Change by design" is an approach to this.

Nassim N Taleb (2012) introduced a concept that aims to be the opposite of fragile, and he calls this "antifragile." While a resilient system can resist a shock and remain basically the same after the shock, an antifragile system has the ability and willingness to learn from the shock and change in response. To prepare for an uncertain future, being antifragile is of benefit. The development of options for climate change adaptation should therefore go beyond increasing resilience and aim to make the systems exposed to cimate change antifragile.

Reading List

Brown and Katz, 2009.

Folk, 2018.

Taleb, 2012. See also,,

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