Bouncing forward (not back)

by Judith Curry

Forget resilience — its about thrivability.

The theme of a recent post was Forget Sustainability — It’s About Resilience.  This post takes this topic one step further – to thrivability.

A contrarian view on resilience

John Hagel has post entitled A contrarian view on resilience.  Excerpts:

In a world of growing uncertainty and mounting performance pressure, it’s understandable that resilience has become a very hot topic. Everyone is talking about it and writing about it. We all seem to want to develop more resilience. But I’m going to take a contrarian position and suggest that resilience, at least as conventionally defined, is a distraction and perhaps even dangerous.

Resilience is used very loosely as a term, so there are many different definitions.  But across all the talks given in that conference (and much of the literature I have read outside the conference) there is one common theme that can be reduced to a simple phrase: it is the ability to “bounce back” in the face of unexpected shocks.  In engineering, it is the ability of a material or structure to resume its original size and shape after being deformed.  In systems science, it is the ability to return to equilibrium, steady state or original function after a shock to the system. In social analysis, it is the capability of a social group to absorb disturbance and reorganize to retain essentially the same function structure and identity.

The common theme of “bouncing back” reveals an intensely conservative motivation – the key goal is to get back to the original state as quickly as possible.  This conservatism is reinforced by the kinds of shocks that typically are often the subject of resilience conversations – natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, epidemics or terrorist attacks. In the face of such devastating threats, who wouldn’t want to get back to normal as quickly as possible?

But there’s a key assumption behind this conservatism that deserves to be made explicit and examined. The assumption is that the status quo is good, that stability and equilibrium are good.

In this context, the conventional view of “bounce back” resilience for enterprises is profoundly dangerous. It simply increases the ability of the institutional status quo to survive when conditions demand a fundamental transformation. It increases the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do. We don’t need to bounce back; we desperately need to move forward.

We need to find ways to harness the mounting pressure we are all experiencing and the unexpected events that seem to bombard us with increasing frequency so they become catalysts for more rapid transformation of our institutions and practices.  In this context, “bounce back” resilience is a distraction and delays our movement forward.

Here’s what our institutional leaders need to develop:

An ability to grow, evolve and thrive over time in the face of short-term performance threats, including the ability to accelerate movement towards fundamentally new functionality and roles in our institutions.

Thrivability

Jean Russell has a very insightful post on Thrivability, that includes a brilliant diagram.  Excerpts:

It isn’t enough to repair the damage our progress has brought. The unintended consequences of our efforts to improve quality of life for humans has repercussions and requires action.  Yes, and. It is also not enough to manage our risks and be more shock-resistant. Now is not only the time to course correct and be more resilient. It is a time to imagine what we can generate for the world. Not only can we work to minimize our footprint but we can also create positive handprints. It is time to strive for a world that thrives.

thrivability

Thrivability transcends survival modes, sustainability, and resilience. Thrivability embraces flow as the sources of life and joy and meaning, adds to the flow and rides the waves, instead of trying to nullify the effects. Each layer includes and also transcends the previous layer, expanding both interconnections as well as expanding system awareness as each layer hits limits and discovers that more forces are at work than can be explained within their purview. Also, this is not a progression, where you need to move through one before beginning another. You can have aspects of yourself or your organization in multiple places in the chart and movement within the chart can be from any one area to any other. It is not a spectrum of progression. It is a spectrum of viewpoint. 

Anti-fragility

I’ve been meaning to do a post on Nicholas Taleb’s new book Anti-fragility, but it is a somewhat difficult book.  Here I cite John Hagel’s post Getting stronger through stress: making black swans work for you.  Excerpts:

Unanticipated events, especially extreme unanticipated events, can harm us or even destroy us. But they can also help us to grow and make us stronger.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been consumed by black swans over three books: Fooled by RandomnessThe Black Swan and, now, Antifragile. Black Swans, in Taleb’s parlance, are “large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence.’ The latest book focuses on approaches that enable us to thrive from high levels of volatility, and particularly those unexpected extreme events.

While Black Swans can have positive and beneficial impact (think of the invention of the computer and the Internet), many of the most well-known Black Swans (think of World War I, the stock market crash of 1929 or the terrorist attacks of 9/11) can have hugely detrimental effects, leading to massive suffering and death. Whether beneficial or detrimental, volatility and Black Swans can prove highly disruptive, leading the best laid plans of mice and men to go awry.

Our natural reaction to such volatility is to focus on refining prediction and risk models so that we can anticipate the events before they happen. Bluntly, Taleb argues in Antifragile that this is a fool’s errand, that the most profound and important of these unexpected events are by their very nature unpredictable. Even worse, he suggests that such efforts lead to a form of complacency and comfort that result in even more disruption when the unexpected events finally occur.

[Taleb] also attacks the conventional fall back options – building more resilience and robustness into systems. In Taleb’s terms, the resilient “resists shocks and stays the same” while robustness, never fully defined in this book, seems quite similar – indifference to unexpected events.Taleb views resilience and robustness as far too modest, and perhaps even dangerous.

The real opportunity, in Taleb’s view, is to learn and grow from volatility and unexpected events – not to return to where you were, but to become even better as a result of the exposure and experience.  This is the essence of antifragility.  Taleb is seeking to describe the properties of adaptive or evolutionary systems that become better and reach even higher levels of performance as a consequence of encountering and overcoming challenges.  They are dynamic rather than static. They thrive and grow in new directions rather than simply sustain themselves. They actually need random events to strengthen and grow and they become brittle and atrophy in the absence of these random events.

He makes an important point: biological systems in nature are inherently antifragile – they are constantly evolving and growing stronger as a result of random events. In contrast, man-made systems tend to be fragile, they are the ones that have a hard time coping with random events.  Taleb highlights a key paradox: our focus in modern times on removing or minimizing randomness has actually had the perverse effect of increasing fragility.

In this context, Taleb’s book is a rich source of insight into ways to harness randomness so that we can become better faster.  The key is to systematically reduce the downside from randomness while at the same time increasing the potential upside.

Each of us can pursue a set of practices and strategies as individuals and as institutions to thrive in times of increasing uncertainty and more frequent Black Swans. In Taleb’s view, the end goal for any antifragile strategy is to achieve convexity. Taleb draws a core contrast between concave and convex strategies. The key question in assessing any strategy is whether it’s likely produce more benefits or harm as the intensity of a shock increases (up to a point). In other words, do you have more upside or downside?  If the upside increases, you have positive asymmetry and a convex strategy.  If the downside increases, you have negative asymmetry and a concave strategy – something to be avoided at all costs.

A selection of some of Taleb’s strategies:

(1)    Pursue barbell approaches
[Pursue] a bimodal strategy: play it safe in some areas to mitigate the potential impact of negative Black Swans while at the same time taking a lot of small risks in other areas to enhance the benefit of positive Black Swans. Above all, he cautions against playing in the middle – we need to be both aggressive and paranoid in carefully selected areas while avoiding the complacency that the deceptive middle produces.

(2)    Focus on options
As Taleb notes, “an option is what makes you antifragile and allows you to benefit from the positive side of uncertainty, without a corresponding serious harm from the negative side.” An option allows you to take the upside if you want but without the downside. Optionality – the availability of options – reduces the need to understand or know something.

(3)    Be curious
Curiosity and its close cousin, discovery, like disturbances – disturbances create unexpected opportunities to learn more and help us to grow stronger in the face of challenges that we had not anticipated.

(4)    Get out of your comfort zone
Far better for us to be uncomfortable – it makes us more alert to our environment, more willing to take risks and more humble about our knowledge and abilities.

(5)    Focus on the edge
Taleb observes that “to this day I still have the instinct that the treasure, what one needs to know for a profession, is necessarily what lies outside the corpus, as far away from the center as possible.”

(6)    Conduct lots of experiments and tinker
Taleb is a major advocate of experimentation and tinkering in contrast to theorizing. The key is to structure them so that they are small in potential harm and so that you can pursue many of them.

(11)     Respect the old
Taleb argues that “antifragility implies . . . that the old is superior to the new. . . . What survives must be good at serving some (mostly hidden) purpose that time can see but our eyes and logical faculties can’t capture.” Only the antifragile survives and thrives; the fragile is ultimately exposed by time and history.

(12)     Beware of wealth, debt and reputation
The key to antifragility is to have less to lose and more to gain; this will make it easier to love the mistakes that often result from experimentation and tinkering, rather than fearing them.

Bottom Line:  Taleb  is not at all concerned with surviving or “bouncing back” in times of increasing uncertainty.  He wants us to do more. Far more.  He wants us to find ways to thrive – to turn what may at first seem like challenges into opportunities to grow and learn so that we can become even better.

JC comments:  I found Jean Russell’s diagram to be enormously insightful. Sustainability seems so 1990’s after digesting all this.  This interview with Jean Russell addresses the differences/connections between sustainability and thrivability.

The ideas of thrivability and anti-fragility have also provoked me to return the recent post on Disaster economics, where I posted the question: Do disasters help local economies?  It seems that the answer can be yes if this is viewed in context of thrivability.

235 responses to “Bouncing forward (not back)

  1. Techno-optimists vs Malthusian Doomsayers is not even a sporting contest. All bets are off, sorry, turf rules.
    =========

    • Bringing a knife fight.

      Notre Dame scheduling the Little Sisters of the Poor and St Mary’s School of Orphans and Widows in football.

      Mosher verses Joshua.

      All equivalent examples of being over matched.

    • David L. Hagen

      Mathematical Definition, Mapping, and Detection of (Anti)Fragility
      Nassim Nicholas Taleb, NYU-Poly; Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne – Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne (CES),
      Raphael Douady Riskdata; CES Univ. Paris 1
      November 5, 2013
      Forthcoming, Quantitative Finance

      We provide a mathematical definition of fragility and antifragility as negative or positive sensitivity to a semi-measure
      of dispersion and volatility (a variant of negative or positive “vega”) and examine the link to nonlinear effects. We integrate model error (and biases) into the fragile or antifragile context. Unlike risk, which is linked to psychological notions such as subjective preferences (hence cannot apply to a coffee cup) we offer a measure that is universal and concerns any object that has a probability distribution (whether such distribution is known or, critically, unknown). We propose a detection of fragility,
      robustness, and antifragility using a single “fast-and-frugal”, model-free, probability free heuristic that also picks up exposure to model error. The heuristic lends itself to immediate implementation, and uncovers hidden risks related to company size, forecasting problems, and bank tail exposures (it explains the forecasting biases). While simple to implement, it improves on stress testing and bypasses the common flaws in Value-at-Risk.

  2. I did not find any strong recommendation for Consensus.
    Sounds good, I will read this some more.

  3. michael hart

    “But there’s a key assumption behind this conservatism that deserves to be made explicit and examined. The assumption is that the status quo is good, that stability and equilibrium are good.”

    Humans have thrived. The status quo is that we are alive (I think). In the universe of possibilities, most of the other alternatives are a lot worse.

  4. I like Thriveability. This looks good. We’ve thrived at an ever increasing rate over the past 100 years, 200 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years. Can we project that trend forward and consider how we may continue to thrive at an ever increasing rate?

  5. More semantics. In medical terms, the code phrase “failure to thrive” is used by doctors to describe someone “not doing well”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failure_to_thrive
    So thriving essentially means that one is healthy.

    For completeness, I suggest adding one more column to the table, and call it Dominating. That will be the stage at which humans achieve total dominance over nature, and then somebody can write a book called “Achieving Dominion”, and the followers of this philosophy can be called Dominionists. This will be achieved when SpringyBoy sees his genetically engineered carbon-building bio-robots fully realized.

    • Webby, we thrive by understanding nature as it manifests in ourselves and in our surroundings. No one understanding themselves and nature would seek to dominate.

      • Unfortunately, nature does not seem to be “thriving” with the increasing temperatures and super-abundance of CO2 that we are measuring ostensibly due to fossil fuel combustion.


        http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20132307-24607.html
        “For example, a rise in temperature over the tropical regions results in a decline in photosynthesis as well as an increase in carbon losses through respiration, amplifying the temperature effect on carbon cycling” says Rama Nemani, Principal scientist for the NEX project.

        Can someone else try to parse this observation by this scientist? Other people are also puzzled by this apparent “failure to thrive”.


        http://climate.nasa.gov/news/957
        Rowan Rowntree:
        “Please explain more about the gas exchange and the mechanism for generating more atmospheric carbon dioxide. We know that forests “inhale” and sequester carbon (and “exhale” oxygen). Then, how can increased temperatures (with resulting increases in growth) produce more atmospheric carbon dioxide?”

        Is this the desertification that was predicted?

      • WHUT, too much speculation. What we know for sure is that the airborne fraction is decreasing (fig.3), despite record anthropogenic emissions.
        http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/011006/pdf/1748-9326_8_1_011006.pdf

      • ” Edim | August 5, 2013 at 7:52 am |

        WHUT, too much speculation”

        Not according to people like The Chief and Springer, who are claiming it as gospel without reading the contents of the paper. I will get a copy of it today to see what I can make of the research.

        From the looks of it, they are claiming that outgassing of CO2 in vegetation due to decreasing photosynthesis is responsible for atmospheric CO2 increase that is 1/3 the amount of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel combustion if a 1 degree average temperature change is assumed.

        Since this is all due to a 1 degree temperature change, it may be the result of an integrated or cumulative effect over time and not due to a direct Arrhenius activation energy, which for one degree temperature change would be pretty small.

        So yes, it may be due to too much speculation from people that have not read the actual paper (including me).

    • Whenever the topic is medical and doctors, I am reminded of advice I give others.

      There is a 50% chance your doctor graduated in the bottom half of his class.

      • My sister the veterinarian always liked to repeat what they said at her school. What do you call the person that graduates with the lowest GPA? Doctor.

    • I will take bets on Springer’s vision of the future coming to pass before Webs.

      Though I’m not giving odds.

      If the bet is Ehrlich and Dave, 20 to 1 in favor if Springer.

  6. While history and prehistory show humans have adapted to a wide range of climates from Africa to the Arctic, up until now it has been at their own pace, by migration. Now we come to a situation where the pace is forced upon us too fast for comfort. Can we cope? At least we can see it coming (most of us), which is a plus over previous civilizations.

    • The first step is Acceptance. (Actually it might be the 5th step according to Kubler-Ross).

      • Not bad Jim D. Perhaps Kubler-Ross and the 5 stages of grief is helpful. 1) Denial 2) Anger 3) Bargaining 4) Depression 5) Acceptance. I am enjoying this subject as I think there’s a lot going on here besides Climate Science.

      • Yes, it is one I have used before to note that the Bargaining stage is marked by those formerly in denial who now think warming is good. It is interesting to watch them progressing through these stages.

      • I see what you mean however, I was thinking of comparing the stages to the other camp as well. If the funding for CO2 mitigation turns out to be pretty light, (small effect) then what?

        Also to trying different premises. Assume each side is right, wrong, mostly right, or mostly wrong. Then guessing at what step they are at in each example?

      • The more Angry camp seems to be the Denialist one, judging by the webosphere, so I take that as a clue. Anyhow, they are taking an unexpected turn of embracing the disasters now (if following Taleb), which I find interesting. Soon these ones will be pro-disaster as an excuse for not taking any mitigation action like leaving carbon in the ground.

      • Say a warmist thinks this is going to happen for Scientific reasons combined with a lack of enough World political will to reduce CO2 emissions and deforestation. They cannot stop it. This seems like a rational place to be for a warmist. They are seeing the inevitable as they have their proof. And most bets are that we will not be able to reign in the CO2. Would they accept this reality or stop at one of the five stages?

        To be fair, let’s look at a skeptic. It’s possible they are wrong about CO2 as a threat. And they are mostly at denial and anger. Yes, some of the skeptics may be on their way to acceptance of AGW as the Science or something else is convincing them. The five steps makes me think about getting the scan back and seeing the cancer. I am not sure most skeptics have got that ‘scan back’ trigger to start the grieving process.

        So I am trying to say there are two kinds of skeptics, the ones slowly moving to the AGW camp, and those not grieving. I am saying, to be a warmist who thinks we can’t reign in CO2, puts you into the five steps until you reach acceptance. Acceptance of, It’s going to get a lot hotter. To be warmist who believes we can still fix this through CO2 reductions, solar, windmills, you name it, would not put them into the grieving process.

        But as I said, I think saving this according them is pretty much out of the question. The more extreme the claims, the less likely an individual can reconcile in their heads, that we have a good chance of fixing this. Suggesting to me they are in the process of grieving and at one for the first four stages.

        I am sorry if my tone was not moderate enough. I do think this is an interesting area. Is it possible we can understand what both sides are doing a little better? I hope so. Thank you Jim D for the discussion.

      • Ragnaar, in that sense I am not a typical warmist, as I have accepted that the world is not going to stop at 2 C warming or 450 ppm with any kind of global policy. I believe we will be at 700 ppm and 4 C total warming by 2100. I also believe this will be expensive, so I am in favor of raising funds through a moderate carbon tax, more as an insurance premium against that future expense than as a deterrent, and to invest to do things like convert to other energy sources or build things to help with adjustment to the new climate.

      • Ragnaar, Jim, I’ve had physical andc emotional traumas, but have never run through the KR stages, best to jump to Acceptance. She describes a process which is often seen, but it is not necessary.

      • “The more Angry camp seems to be the Denialist one, judging by the webosphere”. I have never seen a believer who thinks that believers are the more angry camp, and I have never seen a skeptic who thinks that skeptics are the more angry camp. Maybe you are more sensitive to anger directed in your direction? Just hop over to Huffington Post, or Skeptical Science for that matter, and find seething commenters as far as the eye can see. Or go to Deltoid or Tamino to see seething bloggers.

      • Maybe you are more sensitive to anger directed in your direction?

        +1 for a skeptical (no quotation marks) comment.

        Although I’d suggest a modification to make explicit what was probably implied:

        Maybe people (“realists” and “skeptics” alike) are more sensitive to anger directed in their direction?

      • Good point, Joshua.

      • I’d say I’ve accepted that CO2 has the effect of about 1.3 C per doubling of CO2. I may be in denial about the feedback though. I’ve looked at Hansen et al 1984 and Lacis et al 2010, and it’s a bit beyond me. By the way, I have a question on that on the recent Tall Tales thread.

      • I’d add, Joshua, that when I see someone (on either side) who assumes that the other side is Evil because they disagree, and that person is supposed to be a scientist: Well, it’s hard for me to accept that they might do good science. They obviously can’t think straight.

        I have to point out, though, that this attitude of mine favors the skeptical position. It’s not necessary that they be right. It’s enough that neither side has any real scientists, and I’ll vote for sitting tight till cooler heads get to be in charge.

        There are, of course, some real scientists on both sides, and everywhere in between, whether the other side admits it or not.

      • Mike –

        I’d add, Joshua, that when I see someone (on either side) who assumes that the other side is Evil because they disagree, and that person is supposed to be a scientist: Well, it’s hard for me to accept that they might do good science. They obviously can’t think straight.

        Agreed. While seeing someone engage in such obviously fallacious reasoning does not prove that their science is flawed, it is certainly evidence that they are not disciplined in controlling for biases.

        But again, I would extend the thinking. Non-scientist “skeptics,” also, who assume the other side is Evil because they disagree, are surrendering to biased reasoning as well. And that phenomenon is ubiquitous.

        This is why it is hard for me to accept that folks like Chief, Peter Lang, GaryM, Willis, manacker, etc., and many other “skeptics” do good analysis of the science related to climate change. I wouldn’t say that they obviously can’t think straight – as I have many times when they clearly can – but that they are poor at doing due skeptical diligence to control for their own biases. Just because sometimes people fail to think straight (which obviously applies to all of us) doesn’t mean that they “can’t” do so.

        I have to point out, though, that this attitude of mine favors the skeptical position.

        I don’t get that at all. It seems to me that the “skeptical” side is at least equally inclined to fall prey to the kinds of biased reasoning we’ve been discussing.

      • I hate it when that happens.

      • What? That your comment seems confused?
        =====

      • “I don’t get that at all. It seems to me that the “skeptical” side is at least equally inclined to fall prey to the kinds of biased reasoning we’ve been discussing.” I acknowledge that; in fact, I already did. That’s what I meant when I said, “It’s not necessary that they be right. It’s enough that neither side has any real scientists,” In other words, if both sides are bozos, they cancel each other out, and I’m left with no real opinion. At least for me, that leads to a certain result: the climate activists have an uphill battle to convince me to make major economic changes. They _must_ impress me as being serious scientists, or I will end up voting for doing nothing. All the skeptics need to do is cancel them out.

    • I personally have adapted to a climate that swings from -19C to 35C in just one year.

      I can handle it if the climate changes so quickly in 100 years to -18C to 36C.

      • The more humid areas have to handle more dangerous Heat Indexes. For example, 33 C and 90% RH (HI=54 C) is in the Extremely Dangerous category. We don’t see this now very much because the tropical oceans don’t get that warm, but at some point it will be more common. At this end of the scale, HI increases by 4 degrees for each degree of temperature rise. It’s not the heat alone, it’s the humidity.

      • Jim D | August 4, 2013 at 11:52 pm said: ”The more humid areas have to handle more dangerous Heat Indexes”

        where it gets more humid; day temp goes down / nigh temp goes up = where increases humidity -> trees are healthier = more shade / cooler days Compare Brazil with Sahara on same latitude: .http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/water-vapor/

      • Tropical oceans don’t get less humid when they warm up. Some people live close to them.

      • “where it gets more humid; day temp goes down / nigh temp goes up = where increases humidity -> trees are healthier = more shade” -stefan

        That’s pretty nutty.

        It must be my imagination that it gets warmer here in the wet season. Funny thing that the thermometer has the same misconception.

      • Most urban areas have had to adapt to UHI of 2 – 3 C already. No catastrophe.

        Millions of people in the US have migrated south to Florida etc.

        Use “Jim D” logic, those migrants to warmer climates should be dead by now. They are not. In fact some evidence suggests a longer life span for those who escape lethal northern winters.

      • Michael | August 5, 2013 at 12:58 am said: ”It must be my imagination that it gets warmer here in the wet season. Funny thing that the thermometer has the same misconception.”

        Mick, you are using a dirty trick! it gets humid in summer BUT, if you take your ”humid” place in summer and compare it with dry place on the same latitude – you will see that ”the dry place” is much hotter in the same summer days. Sahara and Brazil should be your second best guidance – the best guidance is my post:::

        in humid place only warmblooded critters feel warmer, because sweat doesn’t evaporate as well / as cooling agent – please read my post and learn .http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/water-vapor/

    • Jim D | August 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm said: ”While history and prehistory show humans have adapted to a wide range of climates from Africa to the Arctic, up until now it has been at their own pace, by migration. Now we come to a situation where the pace is forced upon us too fast for comfort. Can we cope? ”

      still woryieng about nothing.. now we have the car and the jumbo – to migrate faster than ever before — sleep well and less nightmares

    • In half a century we have seen a significant migration just in the US. North to South. In other words, people are not running from the heat.

      The theme of species not being capable of keeping pace with a fast changing environment is another fairy tale out of climate change. I am reminded of a study of Andean bird species. It was building upon earlier research on populations and their spread. The study went back and recorded the habit of the various populations and matched it against changes in temperature. What they found was that temperatures had increased, but the bird populations had not shifted their location to higher elevations as expected. What were the take away of the researchers? The bird species were headed towards extinction because they were not adapting fast enough. Apparently the small detail of their populations remaining stable was not important. What mattered most was the fact they were not behaving as the models projected. Stupid birds.

  7. michael hart

    If searching for new or re-cycled words, I can highly recommend “plasticity”.

    There’s a great future in plastics.

  8. I think Jean Russell’s diagram is a great help. Worth printing out and placing on the wall. As you move rightward across the diagram, it says to me, this is what we are supposed to be doing in many areas besides global warming. The diagram suggests, Create. Can we think of anything better to do? With the Global Warming issue, can we help get those good rightside outcomes? The debate seems to be mostly stuck on the leftside of the diagram. I don’t think we want to be there.

    “Thrivability embraces flow as the sources of life and joy and meaning, adds to the flow and rides the waves, instead of trying to nullify the effects. “ – Jean Russell.

    I like the above, it’s a bit poetic. The problem is not the waves. It’s our refusal to build a boat capable of handling them, and that we approach the problem by trying to change the waves. The more Harmonious answer is to accept the waves.

    Her way of viewing things deserves wider distribution.

    • Ragnaar,

      +1

      I especially like this part of your comment:

      I think Jean Russell’s diagram is a great help. Worth printing out and placing on the wall. As you move rightward across the diagram, it says to me, this is what we are supposed to be doing in many areas besides global warming. The diagram suggests, Create. Can we think of anything better to do?

      I think “thrivability” is a far more optimistic term than “Sustainability”. We’ve spent a decade yapping about sustainability. I am sick to death of it. A key word search of Australia’s federal government funding for research grants shows the amount of funding for justifications that include “sustainable” and/or “climate change” trump all others.

      Yesterday, Australia’s Prime Minister announced we have begun a 5 week election campaign to our federal election. I would like the Opposition to to forget all about “Sustainability” and go for “Thrivability”. It says so much more than just about the environment. It tells me we are striving for economic growth, and better everything – as has been happening for the latest 10,000 years or more at an ever increasing rate. So, lets not be satisfied with sustaining the present; lets go for better future. Lets keep thriving at an ever increasing rate

      Go “Thrivability”.

  9. Not sufficiently emphasized is that anticipating future solutions is a mug’s game. Their value will be in their newness, their re-ordering of possibilities and priorities. Attempting to force them in advance into known containers or categories is outright destructive. See solar and wind power.

    • Indeed, Brian. The only ‘future solution’ guaranteed to forfend catastrophe is to increase and preserve the wealth of a society, keeping it, so far as possible, out of the sticky, inept hands of the pissant progressives (h/t Chief).

  10. Black Swans, in Taleb’s parlance, are “large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence.

    In the spectrum of aquatic poultry, we also have grey swans which are present in the distribution,but are as unpredictable as black.

    Nice paper on this problem which also looks at dragon kings and extreme models.

    http://www.nonlin-processes-geophys.net/20/549/2013/npg-20-549-2013.html

  11. What is it with ambitious social scientists and the creation of ugly neologisms, probably in the hope that future scholars will cite “Jean Russell, who coined the term “thrivability” (shudder)?

    What is being described is adaptability and flexibility; Joseph Schumpeter, who died in 1950, coined the term “creative destruction” for the equivalent in the field of economics.

    And Russell ain’t no Schumpeter. As well as his brilliant analysis of innovation and markets, to quote John Medearis in the American Political Science Review:

    “Schumpeter’s theory is that the success of capitalism will lead to a form of corporatism and a fostering of values hostile to capitalism, especially among intellectuals. The intellectual and social climate needed to allow entrepreneurship to thrive will not exist in advanced capitalism; it will be replaced by socialism in some form. There will not be a revolution, but merely a trend in parliaments to elect social democratic parties of one stripe or another. He argued that capitalism’s collapse from within will come about as democratic majorities vote for restrictions upon entrepreneurship that will burden and destroy the capitalist structure, but also emphasizes non-political, evolutionary processes in society where “liberal capitalism” was evolving into democratic socialism because of the growth of workers’ self-management, industrial democracy and regulatory institutions.”

    In terms of the social sciences, she’s no Max Weber (d. 1920) either. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says of the Father of Sociology:

    “Especially important to Weber’s work is the neo-Kantian belief that reality is essentially chaotic and incomprehensible, with all rational order deriving from the way in which the human mind focuses its attention on certain aspects of reality and organises the resulting perceptions.”

    Dr Curry, if you really want to pursue things outside the hard sciences in your head posts, why not start with the masters, instead of third rate hopefuls like Russell and some of the other mediocrities that have appeared recently?

    • Sure, sure, corporate socialism; what fool doesn’t want the trains to run on time?
      ========

    • Steven Mosher

      “Dr Curry, if you really want to pursue things outside the hard sciences in your head posts, why not start with the masters, instead of third rate hopefuls like Russell and some of the other mediocrities that have appeared recently?”

      Imagine doing a post on any of the “masters” you recommend. Horrible idea.
      plus Russell is not a third rate hopeful. She’s just a woman, who does interesting work.

      Psst. if you want to study creative destruction, take it back beyond mere economics to Hegel, Nietzsche, and ultimately Dionysus or perhaps the goddess Kali, she is the real master

      • Lord Shiva, Parbati’s little slave.
        =========

      • Heh, I’ll see Kali and raise you Adam and Eve. How pretentious!

        Steven, I know it is hard for you to take, but there are subjects about which you know very little. Worse, there are people here who know more about some things than you do, having spent many years working on them.

        In fact, I consider that Weber’s construction of human experience is quite relevant to the climate debate – including his work on the development of bureaucracies, decision-making and the way in which uncertainty is perceived. He was probably the greatest theoretician about sociology of the industrial era.

        It is certainly more worthy of examination than the latest faddish witterings of people like Russell, who hope to make a name for themselves by rebranding other people’s ideas.

      • Trying to make a name for oneself by rebranding other people’s ideas is one thing. Doing so by coming up with a dispositional concept is another one:

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dispositions/

      • Steven Mosher

        “Heh, I’ll see Kali and raise you Adam and Eve. How pretentious!

        Steven, I know it is hard for you to take, but there are subjects about which you know very little. Worse, there are people here who know more about some things than you do, having spent many years working on them.

        No, worse yet there are people who spend many years and still dont get it. You cannot understand Weber without understanding, Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche. Your argument is basically that instead of discussing a popularizer like Russel ( who is accessible for the non specialists here ) that Judith should discuss Weber. And as someone who spent way too much time studying german philosophy, I’m going to suggest that instead of starting with Weber, she should start with German philosophy. And then somebody who specializes in some other field is going to suggest Shiva or Kali or Adam or Eve

        You should get the joke.

        Judith wants to start with something simple and accessible. that many folks here can discuss without years of study. You want to control the discussion so you suggest Weber. I’d like to control the conversation so I’ll suggest Nietzsche ( or Kant or Hegel take your pick ). Such a fun game.

        The bottom line:

        If you want to start a blog that discusses Weber, Then do it.
        Otherwise you are invited to comment here. When you raise your nose
        dont be surprise that you find others who can also play that game. Sometimes for real, sometimes for fun.

        and yes, there is something in me you dont like about yourself

      • The issue is that people are looking for some sociology that can be practically applied to today’s challenges, Taleb et al. provide some ideas and insights. Ignoring Taleb for Schumpeter is like ignoring Tim Palmer for Neils Bohr.

      • Mosher, all through my life, people (especially Jews) have asked me if I am Jewish. I am not, but come from a Dutch background. We say it as we see it, and love a good debate. We are the antithesis of the Irish when it comes to directness (or tactlessness).

        What’s more, we have a reputation for stubborness – and I will fight that to the death.

        But, I do have the grace to admit that commenting or Dr Curry’s area of expertise would be an impertinence for me. And, if Dr Curry were to invite me to write a post about sociology and climate politics, given the right sort of Big Oil funded blandishments, you never know.

      • Johanna, I hereby invite you to write a post about sociology and climate politics. Unfortunately I don’t have anything to offer you other than the opportunity to reach a larger and more diverse audience than an academic typically has access to.

      • Joshua

        please take up judith’s offer to write an article. I am sharpening up my thesaurus already and will be reading up on diversionary tactics and the history of obscure semantics.
        tonyb

      • tonyb,

        I think Mosher gives an obscurantist seminar in the fall.

      • Thanks, Dr Curry. Despite not even the offer of a petrol discount card, your offer of fleeting fame is strangely attractive. Please let me know how to contact you about this.

        See, Mosher, you don’t have to be Jewish to have chutzpah.

      • Steven Mosher

        Mosher, all through my life, people (especially Jews) have asked me if I am Jewish. I am not, but come from a Dutch background. We say it as we see it, and love a good debate. We are the antithesis of the Irish when it comes to directness (or tactlessness).

        #############

        Dear Johanna.

        I attended a private dutch reformed school. You can assume that I read Calvin’s Institutes well before my 15th birthday. 98% of my classmates had blond hair and blue eyes and names like Zondervan. I however have [had] dark hair, more olive skin, and we passed by calling ourselves descendants of french Huguenots. I’m well aquainted with the short comings of wooden shoe wearing blockheads

      • tony –

        Thank goodness that you read more carefully in your historical research than when you read blog comments.

        Although being confused with Johanna is certainly a compliment, alas, I haven’t been invited to do a post as she has.

        And it’s a good thing, too. First, if I did write one it would drive away denizens in droves – quite possibly to never return,. Secondly, it is far, far easier to sit back and carp at other peoples’ posts than to write my own. If I were invited to write a guest post, I’d have to come up with some crafty excuses why I couldn’t take on the task, or be forced to reap as I have sown.

      • Joshua

        I was fully aware who the invitation was aimed at but as Judith seemed to be in need of new blood and was making offers I wanted to see you included. Don’t be shy, get writing, I’m sure Judith will consider anything you put forward, after all she did specifically mention you in her comments appended to a recent article?

        Love your final comments. Reaping as you sow, yes indeed, it would be fascinating to see the comments.

        Tonyb.

      • Johanna,

        I hope you will write that guest post. Hopefully you can write about matters from your experience. You have an enormous amount of valuable experience to share.

    • Johanna,

      I don’t interpret “thiveability” the way you do. I see it as an argument to free up the constraints and let us thrive again. Free up capitalism, allow freer markets, free trade, flexible labor, and the ability to innovate. Removwe the impediments that socialism and ‘Progressives’ have imposed that are holding us back from thriving.

      • Gosh, guys, are we reading the same article? Russell says:

        “Thrivability transcends survival modes, sustainability, and resilience. Thrivability embraces flow as the sources of life and joy and meaning, adds to the flow and rides the waves, instead of trying to nullify the effects. Each layer includes and also transcends the previous layer, expanding both interconnections as well as expanding system awareness as each layer hits limits and discovers that more forces are at work than can be explained within their purview. Also, this is not a progression, where you need to move through one before beginning another. You can have aspects of yourself or your organization in multiple places in the chart and movement within the chart can be from any one area to any other. It is not a spectrum of progression. It is a spectrum of viewpoint. ”

        I don’t see much about deregulation coming out of that word salad. :)

      • Johanna,

        This is the key sentence, IMO:

        It is time to strive for a world that thrives.

        To me the concept of “Thrivability” has a hell of a lot more going for it than “sustainability”.

        We can apply “Thrivability” constructively to consign ‘sustainability’ to the dust bin (and hopefully the ‘Progressives’ with it).

        I like this too:

        It isn’t enough to repair the damage our progress has brought. The unintended consequences of our efforts to improve quality of life for humans has repercussions and requires action. Yes, and. It is also not enough to manage our risks and be more shock-resistant. Now is not only the time to course correct and be more resilient. It is a time to imagine what we can generate for the world.

      • Johanna,

        If I search a data base of federal government expenses for the key word “Sustainable” It lists $81 billion under “Outcomes” and $1 billion under “Programs”

        If I search for “Thrivable” or “Thrivabiliity” I get $0

        So, IMO, “Thriveable is what we want from a change to a conservative government which I hope Australian’s will be wise enough to elect on 7 September :)

      • Thank you. Yes . . .++

    • johanna, I don’t often find myself in disagreement with you (in fact, I can’t remember the last time I did!), and I certainly share your objections to the neologism(s) of the week!

      But I think you’re being a little harsh in this instance. I’m not sure what the “sociologically correct” expression might be these days, but permit me to explain “where I’m coming from” :-)

      For over twenty years I was involved in a “social [aka ‘human’] service” field in many capacities. These included (but were not limited to): direct service volunteer, mid-level NGO employee, community development facilitator (in the days when – at least in Canada – this meant something other than sh*t disturber), gov’t researcher and drafter of policy options, volunteer board member (and President, even), and CEO of a growing NGO (largely dependent on gov’t funding).

      Over the years, to coin a phrase, many of my best friends (not that I have that many!) are those who’ve also been involved in “the field” – but we haven’t always agreed on many burning issues of the day/week/month/year/decade!

      So – with apologies to a great Canadian (sorta country) composer and singer – I’ve looked at jargon and gurus from many sides now, in the pre and post-normal PC eras! And I suspect you have, too, but from a somewhat different perspective – particularly since you live “down-under” ;-)

      Consequently, I was quite surprised to see you describe Jean Thomas as a ‘third rate hopeful […] mediocrity’.

      Is Thomas’ “framing” perfect? No, I don’t think so – but then whose is, eh?! However, I do think she offers food for thought, and an open window (pardon my platitudes) for discussion in this upside-down post-modernist world. A world which in which discussion is so often dominated by an ideologically and/or otherwise driven continuum of (in this instance, but there are others!) the CO2-reduction obsessed.

      In my view, when the history books are written many years from now, the variety of Judith’s choice of material “outside the hard sciences” ** will be shown to be a major contributor to pulling society back from the brink of a lemming-like jump over a cliff constructed by those who – in effect – proclaim “trust us/them, we’re/they’re climate scientists, and we/they know what’s best”.

      [** Although I do not always agree with Judith’s occasionally expressed enthusiasms … usually, I’m so far behind in my blog-viewing that voicing any objection would be pointless and unheard here!]

      • Hi Hilary

        My objection to this kind of stuff (and I don’t resile from calling it third rate compared to people like Weber and Schumpeter) is that it forms part of the vast outpouring of pop sociology which passes for critical thought in much of the social sciences. I have been reading this stuff for more than 30 years and am probably a bit more jaded and grumpy about it than people who have been exposed to less of it.

        During my long and miscellaneous working and academic life, I have read far too many papers claiming the latest breakthrough in management, sociology, policy, psychology etc along these lines. Once you have studied the truly great thinkers in these fields, and seen the fashions come and go, it is difficult to take most of it without a goodish lump of salt. The “word salad” I quoted above is gibberish, and the lack of clear thinking (and expression) it demonstrates does not “open a window” to me – it just fogs it up.

        No sensible policy analyst thinks of resilience as a capacity for perfect return to the status quo ante, and they never have. Ambitious social scientists often create these strawmen and then knock them down with what the uninitiated might see as brilliant insight. Those of us who have done our homework and been around the block a few times see it quite differently.

        Since truly great thinkers about these things only come along rarely, I guess that the thousands and thousands of graduates being churned out every year will always be a bit disappointing in comparison. But that’s no reason not to call them on mediocre work, especially if it involves rebranding other people’s ideas and creating neologisms in the hope that nobody will notice.

        Affectionately, from the Grumpy Old Woman – j

      • Johanna,

        My objection to this kind of stuff (and I don’t resile from calling it third rate compared to people like Weber and Schumpeter) is that it forms part of the vast outpouring of pop sociology which passes for critical thought in much of the social sciences. I have been reading this stuff for more than 30 years and am probably a bit more jaded and grumpy about it than people who have been exposed to less of it.

        I’ve been reading this stuff for over 20 years and am also jaded and grumpy about it. But my response to this is quite different to yours. I think you are looking at it from an intellectual point of view, whereas I am not. I am looking at the term “Thrivability” for its political potential.

        For the 20 years since I first became involved in policy advice “Sustainability” has been the dominant term. If you don’t have lots of mentions of “sustainability” in a funding application you don’t get funding. As I mentioned in a previous comment, a keyword search of Australian government ‘Outcomes’ has $81 billion and ‘Programs’ has $1 billion (e.g.

        Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure

        So, my interest in the word ‘Thrivable’ is as a word to replace ‘Sustainable’. Slogan are essential nowadays for capturing media attention and in the twittersphere. ‘Thrivable sends a more positive and optimistic message than ‘Sustainable’ and is much better for promoting the policies that make the world a better place for all.

  12. Coming up with a fashionable new abstract noun to give direction and cred to one’s thoughts or to reinforce a position is becoming an intriguing game. Be daring, since you’ll get no attention unless you come up with something striking like “antifragility” and “thrivability”, but anything that butt-ugly is not going to be around for long. You have to strike first but then move on. Don’t be last one to put away the flared jeans and don the cigarette leg. Don’t be sneezing over shagpile while the up-to-date folk are stripping back to the timber.

    The in-words seem to have an even shorter shelf-life than fashions in architecture and interior design. I’m guessing you have much less than ten years for “thrivability” to thrive. For example, you might still build a stark 90s box of concrete and corrugated iron to live in and be featured in Dwell. However, if you were to use a word from the same era – eg “sustainability” – you’ll attract a few sniggers, I’m afraid, and little else.

    Anyway, I wish “thrivability” good fortune, though I had hopes for the daring thrust toward hyphenation which was evident in some renderings of “anti-fragility”. But maybe there’s no place for hyphens in verbal fashions. Hyphens, while they provide a rich, layering effect, are a bit dithery.

    I’m old enough to remember “validity” from the 60s. It was sometimes coupled with “meaningfullness”. If your objected to fins on big cars – or some war somewhere – you could say they lacked validity and meaningfulness. Grand days,they were. They had their own validity, those 60s.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Seriously – how wrong can you be? First of all it was half crazed girls in rags and feathers – which I can tell you from experience is something that will keep you on your toes. And although I am still experimenting with the perfect roast for Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee – the nose is compelling and promises near coffee perfection. But fins on cars are the quintessential expression of the post war excess of optimistic thiveability. Who can forget the 1960 Pontiac Coupe? http://www.kumberamotors.com/cars.htm?l=o&id=394 Or the 1960 Series 62 Cadillac convertible – that thrived even more.

      By the oil shock of the 1970’s things had gone downhill considerably. Half crazed girls there were aplenty – but we were into a half baked left bank chic. Hanging out with short blacks and Gauloises in the corner of the mouth with a copy of Rimbaud or Henry Miller poking out of a pocket.

      In some ways we have not recovered – but I really have to toddle off now. The missus wants to see Wolverine. I suppose I should be grateful it is not something related related to Jane Austen. I am hoping for big fins.

      • Chief, when they introduce full literacy to Qld you’ll be able to read my comments in their fullness. Do you really think I didn’t love the Chevrolet Impala my aspirational parents bought in the 60s? (To my shame, it was I, in my brief smartie-pants student period, who talked them in buying a a survivalist, sustainable, resilient Volvo 144…but if they were stupid enough to trust someone under forty that’s their prob.)

        At the moment I really do have far too much citrus on my hands. I might have been content to resile and sustain, but I have decided to thrive and make lemonade. With our social scientists channeling Norman Vincent Peale, I feel confident in taking this step. Normative or non-normative…I don’t care. I’m putting a positive handprint on my black swans. Those lemons are getting squashed today.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Moso

        You are not yourself today. I noticed the improvement straight away. Although I think perhaps you should avoid mentioning literacy and your comments in the same sentence.

        ‘volvo driver

        Someone who is so bad at driving that they want a car that is perceived overly safe. They drive slowly in the fast lane, they cut into traffic causing other drivers to swerve and brake violently to avoid a collision…

        Oblivious Volvo drivers often wave cheerily at the frustrated honks of others as they park, change lanes or slam on brakes for no apparent reason.’ urban dictionary

        You talked your parents into being social pariahs and laughing stocks? You were a mean little boy weren’t you and has much changed since?

        Cool –

        Uncool –

        Lemonade is so Norman Rockwell as well. Might I suggest meatballs in a rich tomato sauce to use some citrus – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/1171/meatballs+in+rich+tomato+sauce – as I never eat veal please substitute beef. Those baby cows are just so cute. Highly recommended – 5 stars – this has gotta be my favourite serf food and a timeless classic.

      • Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Dodge Matador two-door station wagon, refuge when schoolhouse and church failed.
        =========================

      • And although I am still experimenting with the perfect roast for Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee – the nose is compelling and promises near coffee perfection.

        The mind can only consciously take in one moment at time, this is how magicians have learned to distract to great effect, it is the speed of perception which creates our reality of space time around us. So, you have a problem, coffee will never taste as good as it smells because taste receptors do not capture the same smell.

        The trick then, is to train your mind to keep smelling while you are drinking so the intensity of the aroma, which is what drew you to your choice of coffee in the first place, replaces your taste sensations.

        It would be less arduous, your search for perfection, if you stopped drinking it and took all your pleasure in smelling it, as it will never reach the perfection of the aroma the constant disappointments will become a tad wearing.

      • Memories. I learned to drive in a 64 white Chevy 4 door Impala.

      • A La Recherche des Voitures Passees.
        =============

    • mosomoso, I think you have to say “speople of colour.” Another change since the “60s.

  13. Need ter read Taleb’s book . Options (2 -11) sound like good advice,
    me dad did all these, plenty of ups and downs ) but (1) is asking yer
    ter ‘carefully select’ options, and at predicting, well, we’re not so hot,
    and (12), is telling us ter beware of wealth, debt and reputation, well,
    ok about becoming complaissant, but some innovative enterprises
    require capital and risking debt, :( and plausability that can involve
    the reputation of the innovator to get going. Not much is jest straight
    forward maxim stuff in a world of black swans.
    A serf.

  14. Note, obscure literary reference for the day: It’s to Mrs. Ann Radcliffe of ‘The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789).

    “Her supernatural manifestations eventually turn out to be elaborately contrived frauds, concocted to terrify the heroine into surrendering her virginity, her property, her sanity, or even all three.”

    H/t to and quote from Robert Tracy
    ==========

  15. Ah yes, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. The poor only have themselves to blame in that version. Ad Astra.

  16. Me dad, given ter his own serf maxims, (not in Latin,)
    used ter say, ‘The fruits of the turf only come to he
    who dares.’

  17. My dad told me over and over in my youth “you can become anything or do anything you put your mind to or have a desire to do”

    • My dad told me nothing, he took off in 1944 and left me to pull myself up from poverty, I don’t remember bootstraps, probably from not having boots. I possibly aspired to the boot-strap owning classes, but I think I moved past that stage without stopping. As for the flares Chief mentioned …. I admit nothing.

      • Growing up we were so poor, mom would cut holes in our pants pockets just so we had something to play with.

        With apologies to Faustino. Not trying to make light of your experiences.

        My grandfather and uncles were Immigrant coal minors. Their children
        and grandchildren are college Professors, professional engineers with either their own companies or VP’s of major companies, US Attorneys or lawyers with government agencies, graduates of our military academy’s and on and on.

        Whether that is due to our being an exceptional family or living in a nation that provides exceptional opportunity could be a subject for debate. I vote for it being primarily the latter.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Hell – we weren’t even working class. I come from many generations of poor white trash.

      • Timg56,

        It is great to have people like you and quite a few others who are highly successful commercial and professional practice sharing your knowledge and experiences here. What you and the others contribute lifts the quality of the comments on Climate Etc.

        Regarding poor backgrounds, it’s often said that those who had to struggle hardest end up making the greatest contribution.

      • Peter Bocking strapped strings with a hot boot, yes, in Manchester.
        ===========

      • I’ll have all you serfs know I was the adored youngest son of a very well-off family. This taught me to have high expectations from minimal exertion, something which probably goes above your cloth-capped serf heads. Sadly, my family lost all their money, which left me with just the expectations and minimal exertion. The trick of being a true patrician is not to lose the money, since one does not adapt well to bootstrap-pulling and the like. When they told me I would have to go through ardua and aspera to reach the astera again, I dispensed with the astera aspirations. (You can do so many things with mince.)

        While I cannot recommend my path in life to others, I can still put the knout about when annoyed by cheeky serfs…or oafish hydrologists from the humid regions. I have not forgotten my roots. Nonetheless, it occurs to me that I have never been given a job by a poor man or, indeed, by someone like myself who dawdles about. So while I won’t be going through the fatigues of reading whole books on the matter, I find myself in agreement with Beth, RiH and – heaven help me – Faustino. A smidgin of faith, some freedom and a whole lot of personal action seem to unleash something very powerful, for which there is never accounting. In fact, you stifle it when you try to account. Somewhere, in a parental garage or basement, some awkward, sexually frustrated young men with hygiene problems are making your future and mine. Leave them to it. Don’t try to solve their problems with money, education or normalcy training. Let them solve our problems, in completely unforeseen ways.

      • “My grandfather and uncles were Immigrant coal minors” – the myth of Big Coal takes another hit…

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Oddly enough – I agree with moso. Not the oafish hydrologist bit of course. Or about the Latin tags. Frankly it just makes me giggle and think he isn’t in Kansas anymore – Toto. Certainly on the high expectations and minimal exertions bit. Although coming from the perspective of poor white trash – the University of Crime typically had more of a familiar influence than the University of Wollongong. Mince as well. Having shared a meatball – with lemons – recipe above. I forgot to add to use a tomato passata with diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic and a good stock. Tear some basil into cooked spaghetti, add a little virgin olive oil, serve with the meatballs and sauce and shaved Romano cheese. Nutritious and delicious.

        I would rather not think of sex starved and smelly youth in basements – whatever they are getting up to. We are however getting closer to the ideal classic liberal positive agenda – which hasn’t in fact changed since the days of Burke, Locke and Smith. Individual freedom, free trade, free markets, democracy and a rule of law that protects the citizen from both government and – ahem – the lawless. Well we are Australian and I can trace my heritage proudly back to the second fleet. A mixed heritage of poor white English trash, starving Irish and Scottish freedom fighters. This is the way to meet the global aspirations of people for prosperity, peace, freedom and justice. Ever onwards and upwards.

        He will find however that putting knouts about is discouraged in polite society these days. In Australian society he would have another thing coming.

      • tmg, “Not trying to make light of your experiences.” Why not? I do. Long past. Humour triumphs.

  18. To me, “resilience” is finding opportunity in a turbulent world. Yes, it comes from the Latin for bouncing back, but truly resilient communities find ways to take lemons and make lemonade.

    • Truly thriving ones take lemons and make auto fuel.

      • Smart ones take lemons and make lemonnella.

      • Smart ones get back to Common Law and resist institutional leaders and their monopolies.

        Anarchy, without another’s head taking the place of your own, is freedom.

        Most people, it seems to me from my interactions with those around me, would like to live in good health without financial problems in order to enjoy life. What is stopping us thriving, as WHT notes the medical definition is “not doing well”?

        How about we first get rid of everything that acts against our well being? Like the banking cartel which creates money out of nothing and the tyrannical goverments and institutions it has put in place over us. How radical is that?

        To stop taking the poison that is killing us.

  19. Now there’s an aphorism I like from John Plodinec:
    ‘Resilient communities find ways ter take lemons
    and make lemonade.’
    A – serf – from – the – littoral.

  20. I think the world is going to choke on bullsh*t before we heat up too much more…or cool off…or whatever.

    Quatsch!

  21. Five books to read and no Cliff Notes. How do you pass a test like this?

    • Go drinking the night before and nvent a new vocabulary.

      • MGW,
        From ‘The Second Best Moments in Chinese History:’

        ‘They have gathered in a clearing in a wood,
        Nervously at first, but with ever growing enthuisiasm,
        They begin to discuss the insoluble principles of existence.
        Soon the forest resounds to their obscene drinling songs.’

        H/t Frank Kuppner.
        Bts

      • Serf’s editing ;( ‘drinking’

  22. …the key goal is to get back to the original state as quickly as possible.

    Life sure is easier when you distort and create caricatures to prop up your arguments.

    The goal is to get back to the original state as quickly as possible and be better able to deal with the impact of negative events in the future and make improvements and thrive.

    The assumption is that the status quo is good, that stability and equilibrium are good.

    No. The assumption is that the state post-disaster is worse than the status quo was, that stability is better than suffering from negative instability and that equilibrium is better than disequilibrium when it is, in balance, negative.

    • Take the blindfold off and re-adjust the scales.
      ================

    • Steven Mosher

      Joshua

      ‘The goal is to get back to the original state as quickly as possible and be better able to deal with the impact of negative events in the future and make improvements and thrive.”

      Hagel makes a point about the COMMON THEME of the focus on resilience.

      You assert otherwise:

      To establish your case that the common theme is what you claim, you
      need to provide some examples, in the very least.

      Start here:

      We are looking for :

      A) return to original state
      B) better able to deal with negative events
      c) thriving

      http://hbr.org/2002/05/how-resilience-works/ar/1

      Nope

      http://hbr.org/2011/04/building-resilience

      This one is better for your case

      http://hbr.org/2003/09/the-quest-for-resilience/ar/1

      not so clear

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resilience_(organizational)

      not seeing your claim supported here

      “More scholarship is turning towards examining how to achieve resilience. Some have identified the four facets of resilience as preparedness, protection, response and recovery.[18] Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, are adopting the resilience concept.[19][20] In the United Kingdom, resilience is implemented locally by the Local Resilience Forum.”

      Although Here is closer

      “Resilience, then, is “the continuing ability to use internal and external resources successfully to resolve new issues”. Thus, “resilience is the capacity to rebound from adversity strengthened and more resourceful”.”

      http://www.drj.com/articles/online-exclusive/thewikipedia-of-business-resilience.html

      ” IBM has articulated business resiliency as “The ability of an organization’s business operations to rapidly adapt and respond to internal or external dynamic changes – opportunities, demands, disruptions or threats – and continue operations with limited impact to the business.”

      https://www.gov.uk/resilience-in-society-infrastructure-communities-and-businesses

      Nothing to support your content.

      ############

      after a cursory review it would appear that Hagel’s framing
      –the COMMON THEME IS CONSEVATIVE– is more accurate than your counter assertion.

      To be sure you will find some of the literature that puts the emphasis on all the elements : recovery, adaptability and growth, but that doesnt appear to be the COMMON THEME.

      However, to establish your case you can do a literature review. Its easy there is only 5 years or so of literature.

    • Johanna has it right (like Willis, she may have to shower if she happens to read that I agree with her?) It is a straw man argument. No one asserts that resilience means maintaining status quo at the expense of increasing “thrivability.” A lack of explicit discussion about building “thrivability” in efforts for resilience doesn’t mean that in the real world anyone divorces the one sort of initiative from the other. In reality, does that sometimes occur? Of course. The world is not perfect. And neither is it binary.This is a game of semantics that may or may not describe anything concrete in reality. It is pointless, IMO, to talk about this in generalized or theoretical terms without tying the discussion to reality.

      That isn’t to say that the basic discussion is pointless – but it seems only useful to me, not as some theoretical or philosophical exercise in navel gazing. Talk about where a failure to address “thrivability” has come about because of a limited concept of reslience, and how do you determine that it wasn’t simply a case of the reality that building “thrivability” is inherently difficult and largely occurs primarily as a matter of luck. The road to the poor house is paved with failed attempts at creating “thrivability.”

      The fact that increasing thrivability may not be explicitly stated as a component of a theoretical construct of reslience does not meant that in reality anyone considers those goals somehow mutually exclusive.

      The business literature is replete with strategies for combining adaptability to current conditions and pressures with proactive measures to increase productivity. Sure, if you frame a straw-man argument by crafting it in such a way as to exclude obvious counter examples you can pat yourself on the back and be smug in your confident self-assessment of ingenuity and innovative thinking.

      Would it be possible to improve any given effort at building resilience by thinking through more clearly how to make it more pro-active about future growth? Of course. Patently obvious. Banal. I fail to see why anyone finds that concept to be in any way insightful.

  23. Two things have characterized my life has been optimism and opportunity. I did not set out to what I have become; there was no linear path. Rather, a very amorphous dream with little substance or reality, provided boundaries. My next step, then the other my journey in retrospect can be viewed as a random walk. Human behavior seems to be like that: including buffeting at one time, being pulled along at another.

    In all this movement, mindfulness (there’s that 60’s term), assessing the past while considering future possibilities, keeps the mind churning and assessing opportunities during the transit from one state to another. Chaotic state of mind it doesn’t seem to be. Considering possibilities, valuing relationships, acquiring new information, trying on opportunities, assessing what one has just done (including buyer’s remorse), seeking advice, more dabbling into the unknown, avoiding mind altering escapism (preoccupation with sex or the adrenalin rush, drugs, longing, fanaticism), on and on.

    It seems that a life of being somewhat dissatisfied with the present, makes one a seeker. (Seekers, now there was a musical group), optimistic about one’s self (is that self-confidence?) and one’s future (I am going to be around to see something come to fruition) and fingering life’s possibilities as one assesses a fine cloth or sip a whiskey or sniff the aroma of a Napa cabernet sauvignon.

    Self confidence, which seems to be the over-riding ingredient to Thrivability, comes from adding small successes together, then reflecting upon these successes with the light of the present, ultimately guiding actions for the future.

    • RiH, generally likewise, but the sex and drugs had their place. My life has also been characterised by honesty, integrity and non-exploitation, I suspect the same of yours. (Awaiting a serf-smack, which I received once when the serf-finder general thought I was a bit up myself.)

      • Serfs can learn a lot from RiHo08 and yerself, Faustino.
        And I understand you were a star on the dance floor as well
        and that certainly counts with me .. Btw watch his feet and
        dance quality. )

        A-very-model-of-a- serf-finder-general.

      • Beth, I have to say, I preferred the chick to Faustino :)

      • Peter, I should hope so!

        Beth, in spite of my (adopted) Latino name, I’ve never taken to Latin dance. Mine was generally free-form and fairly rapid. Though most recently (two weeks ago), I was dancing to Irish music in Queen Street Mall when a friend’s group were playing. Great fun. And thank you to my physiotherapist for my recent fluidity.

      • Faustino you made me smile. But I seem to remember that you do the tango rather well (amongst other things) so to hear of you dancing Irish (ramrod straight! mind you!) doesn’t surprise me at all. Next dance Beth?

      • Peter D, I said “dancing to Irish music” rather than ram-rod straight Irish dancing. It’s 50 years since I did ceilidh dancing.

      • Free form meself Faustino concentrating on the music
        to me fingertips and proud like a cossack lol.
        Next dance Peter with pleasure.
        Bts
        .

  24. That’s it, climate science is Roy Riegle. I know I’m to blame, now ain’t that a shame, John Goldfarb won’t you please come home.
    =================

  25. This reminds me of my strong reaction to what everyone did after the banking collapse in 2008: They are nuts to think that more regulation is going to solve these problems. Regulators were the ones who didn’t anticipate these problems in the first place; but the next problem, that they’ll get right for sure? Ridiculous. The solution has to be to simplify the institutions so that they can’t pull each other down. Too Big to Fail is too big to exist.

    • Bureaucracy is most successful at expanding its reach and role, “more regulation” is always a preferred option. Advocate small government? Alright, we’ll set up a committee on that, and an oversight body and …

  26. In just 2 months Judith has ditched her enthusiasm for resilence for a new buzz word.

    It really is the twit-o-sphere.

  27. Quick response: “Here’s what our institutional leaders need to develop: an ability to grow, evolve and thrive over time in the face of short-term performance threats, including the ability to accelerate movement towards fundamentally new functionality and roles in our institutions.”

    Essentially, though differently expressed, what I’ve been arguing for over twenty years.

    • “Bottom Line: Taleb is not at all concerned with surviving or “bouncing back” in times of increasing uncertainty. He wants us to do more. Far more. He wants us to find ways to thrive – to turn what may at first seem like challenges into opportunities to grow and learn so that we can become even better.”

      I’ve long advocated policies which promote the capacity to do that. When I read the Black Swan, I thought “At last! Someone else who thinks like me!” (Although he’s far better at it.)

  28. So many have said it already that perhaps I should not write this comment.

    I add one vote to those who have told that there’s nothing new in the ideas. That’s true for the economics presented in today’s textbooks and that’s also true for what’s done in practice. That’s not limited to libertarian thinking, but extends to everyone beyond caricature versions of central planning.

    If we apply that to climate policies hardly anyone may think about adaptation in any other sense that that called thrivability in the texts. The word has not been used, but adaptation cannot be really be anything else.

    There are certainly differences in optimism about the outcome. Some feel that with best adaptation and thrivability the future suffers severely from climate change while others think that human ingenuity can once more find a way forward not seriously affected by the effects of additional CO2 releases.

    • Pekka,

      See my apology and additional comment here:
      https://judithcurry.com/2013/08/03/week-in-review-8313/#comment-360221

    • Pekka, my teacher says you need “Optimism and workism.” Have a positive attitude, but put in well-directed effort. Works for me.

    • while others think that human ingenuity can once more find a way forward not seriously affected by the effects of additional CO2 releases.

      I am definitely in that camp. We’d bed making much faster progress if the ‘Progressives’ weren’t so intent on t blocking progress.in every possible way.

      Why should we think that now, just when we happen to be living, human ingenuity will run out of steam when it hasn’t done so in the past 200,000 years/

    • The data below shows daily per capita energy consumption in MJ/d since “Primitive man”. Copy it and plot it on a log log scale. I interpret this to show that ‘Thriveability’ has been working very well. If its been working this well for 200,000 years, why do ‘Progressives’ believe that their interference to redirect what we should do will improve our ‘Thriveability’. Or is their intention to retard us, reduce our rate of progress, so we are merely sustainable?

      Daily per capita energy consumption – MJ/d

      Era ybp Food Home and Commerce Industry and Agriculture Transportation total
      Technological man 1 40 264 364 252 920
      Industrial man 50 28 128 96 56 308
      Advanced Agricultural man 300 24 48 28 8 108
      Primitive Agricultural man 4000 16 16 16 48
      Hunting man 20000 12 8 20
      Primitive man 200000 8 8

      Below I list just the first two columns (era and years before present)
      Era years before present (ybp)
      Technological man 1
      Industrial man 50
      Advanced Agricultural man 300
      Primitive Agricultural man 4000
      Hunting man 20000
      Primitive man 200000

      Below I list just the first and last column (era and total per capita energy consumptions, MJJ/d)
      Era MJ/d
      Technological man 920
      Industrial man 308
      Advanced Agricultural man 108
      Primitive Agricultural man 48
      Hunting man 20
      Primitive man 8

    • To foresee the future, quantitative arguments are needed. Both the arguments based on the finiteness of the world resources and arguments based on the limitlessness of the human ingenuity are logical. Neither contradicts the scale of the limits of the Earth so badly that a proof could be presented on its irrelevance. It’s possible to present logically impeccable scenarios where serious degradation of the resource base is rather near (less than 100 years from the present) and other scenarios that leave so much leeway that we can leave it to the later generations to choose the way forward.

      I’m not firmly in either camp. That makes me prefer taking all low cost robust steps to reduce the threat from the first alternative, but that leads me also into thinking that we should not do that in a way that slows down the development that has brought our well-being this far.

      The above paragraph contains the expression “low cost”. What that means is really the key. In a market based solution the cost of carbon permits is a measure of that. Based on the experience so far, I don’t believe that $20 per ton of CO2 would place a serious burden on the economy of industrialized countries when implemented in a way that does not lead to serious carbon leakage. Less than that has barely any effect, and much more than that may influence further development too much. It’s, however, possible that development in countries like India is much more sensitive to the cost of carbon permits. That’s a problem as avoidance of carbon leakage requires a rather uniform cost of carbon.

      • There’s a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza,
        There’s a hole in my bucket, and carbon is leaking.
        =======================

      • The word ‘robust’ appears in your comment above, Pekka; there’s a word that thrives, has throve, will thrive, and will have thriven. It drives out meaning, it has drove, will drive, and will have driven.
        ================

      • Co-incidentally, just yesterday I’d explained to someone trying to talk to a friend about the clouds above coal plant stacks that the use of ‘carbon’ instead of ‘carbon dioxide’ was a sign of ignorance, and to consider carbon dioxide a pollutant was a sign of propagandization. Now I know, Pekka, that you are neither ignorant nor unreasonably propagandized, but still, it sounds so ignorant and propagandized to speak of ‘carbon leakage’.

        However, the ugly whorls rising above the common human consciousness from the polluted narrative of control knob carbon dioxide is noxious indeed. Abate, please; your duty to yourself and your species.
        ====================

      • Pekka Pirila,

        The above paragraph contains the expression “low cost”. What that means is really the key. In a market based solution the cost of carbon permits is a measure of that. Based on the experience so far, I don’t believe that $20 per ton of CO2 would place a serious burden on the economy of industrialized countries when implemented in a way that does not lead to serious carbon leakage.

        I think you have little understanding of the issues. I’ve addressed some of the important ones in this post:
        http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/07/no-gain-and-lots-of-pain-with-the-ets

      • I think you have little understanding of the issues.

        Could you imagine that I have sometimes similar thoughts about your understanding?

  29. Stephen Wilde

    Like my attitude to business.

    Make sure that every obstacle or setback is offset by a move forward in some other aspect of one’s activity.

    That also involves knowing when to abandon a set position. Alarmists take note.

    In the real world, thrivability is a characteristic of individuals not groups. Groups can only thrive at the expense of individual thrivability. They need to suppress it in order to maintain group cohesion. Can’t have individual group members thriving better than others.

    All authoritarianism seeks to suppress individuals in favour of the group and thereby suppresses total potential thrivability for everyone.

    That is why the democratic free market solution (British Parliamentary Democracy and the similar US Constitution) favouring individuals above groupthink created the modern world and all other systems based on group activity have failed.

    Now there are many who want to dismantle it all despite plenty of examples of the appalling consequences of groupthink based political systems.

    • +1

    • It all comes back to the individual. That’s why I oppose policies which foster dependence rather than self-reliance. Such policies have unfortunately taken hold in most western democracies, with the CAGW thrust exacerbating it.

      • “self-reliance”

        So you Aussies should be OK with rooftop solar.

        AGL says 9GW of baseload fossil fuels no longer needed
        http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/agl-says-9gw-of-baseload-fossil-fuels-no-longer-needed-35369

        AGL Energy, one of the big three power utilities in Australia, says that 9,000MW of fossil-fuel baseload capacity needs to be taken out of the national electricity market (NEM) to bring it back into balance.
        The claim was made by managing director Michael Fraser, on Wednesday, at the announcement that AGL Energy had secured extra financing for its 155MW solar PV project in western NSW – the first solar project of its scale to be built in Australia.

        I wonder why that is?

        “There is too much baseload relative to where demand has got to, and rooftop solar has impacted on demand … and that has impacted on the economics of coal-fired generators.

        “We guess there is around 9,000MW of oversupply in the market. That’s not helpful, either for existing assets or for trying to get new projects off the ground.”

        That assessment of 9,000MW equates to nearly one-third of the country’s baseload generation – a sure sign that renewables, and in particularly rooftop solar, are changing the dynamics of the market. And it also suggests that some state governments built more generators than was necessary, as they have done more recently with poles and wires.

      • WHT, Gee you are ignorant.

        “self-reliance”

        So you Aussies should be OK with rooftop solar.

        Have you ever heard of anyone building a solar panel themselves from scratch? Have you even thought of what is involved?

      • … so the rest is correct.

    • A classic “skeptical” comment:

      Groups can only thrive at the expense of individual thrivability. They need to suppress it in order to maintain group cohesion.

      A strict adherence to an extreme ideological theory (which is rooted in solid thinking), to the point of being blind to obvious reality.

      Look at the evolution of many societies – say the US. A group (albeit, a very large one) that has thrived on a massive scale while creating and maintaining more “individual thrivability” than has ever existed previously on the planet.

      • Forward Into Neo Evilution

      • Joshua, do you truly believe that America, as a very large group, has thrived on a massive scale? Citations please, especially post GFC. The gap between the haves and the have nots seems to be widening, especially in places like Michigan and Detroit.

      • Peter –

        There have always been haves and have nots. We are speaking on relative terms. We enjoy an average standard of living, on the whole, which is unprecedented in history. One a finely grained scale, there is no doubt that wealth disparities have widened in the past few decades, but as a matter of scale relative to average standards of living compared to eons of previous civilization, that backward movement has been insignificant.

      • Boilerplate vs. Covenant; which one will you want to rely on?

      • I base my comment on this
        http://www.geekosystem.com/us-compared-to-other-countries/
        Are America’s lifestyle advances compared to the rest of the developed world a myth?

    • Steven Mosher

      ‘In the real world, thrivability is a characteristic of individuals not groups. Groups can only thrive at the expense of individual thrivability. They need to suppress it in order to maintain group cohesion. Can’t have individual group members thriving better than others.”

      Actually not. its an emergent property of a network

    • “In the real world, thrivability is a characteristic of individuals not groups. Groups can only thrive at the expense of individual thrivability. They need to suppress it in order to maintain group cohesion. Can’t have individual group members thriving better than others.”

      In the real world, individuals can thrive. Small groups can thrive. Large groups can thrive. Countries can thrive. Cultures can thrive.

      The idea that groups can only thrive at the expense of individuals is the false conceit at the heart of progressivism. The converse is the false core of libertarianism.

      In fact, a free market, combined with the Judeo-Christian ethic, gave rise to the freest, richest, strongest, most generous, most just society in the history of mankind. The only reason it makes sense for individuals to prefer capitalism over socialism is that the free market allows individuals to thrive, who in the course of their success make it easier for everyone else to thrive.

      I quoted Adam Smith above, and that was the point he was making. The free market is justified as a governing economic principle expressly because the success of the individual on a mass scale redounds to the benefit of the society.

      If so many of you had ever been taught anything other than progressive revisionism of history, economics, and government, you wouldn’t find this so hard to understand.

      Capitalism, democracy and morality combined are not a zero sum game.

      • The idea that groups can only thrive at the expense of individuals is the false conceit at the heart of progressivism. .

        A particularly hilarious example of GaryM’s selective reasoning given the exchange between myself (who GaryM has called a progressive many times), and Stephen Wilde – (a progressive? Somehow, I think not).

        If there’s one thing that is certain, GaryM will leave no illogical stone unturned in his obsessive need to demonize those he considers progressive. Next he’ll start telling us about massive conspiracies amongst pollsters to skew their samples to help Obama’s election chances.

        Oh…

        Wait…

      • GaryM says the free market allows groups to thrive as well as
        those individuals who in the course of their success make it
        easier for everyone to thrive. Yes.

        Taleb in his Prologue to ‘The Black Swan’ argues that the
        reason free markets work is that they allow people to be lucky,
        (or unlucky), thanks to aggressive trial and error, to the benefit
        of society as a whole, whose members don’t have to risk failing themselves in order to benefit. …Yer – might – say – a – trial –
        and – error – and – trickle -down – effect.

        Then there’s the inter – connections of shared ideas,ref
        Matt Ridley TED Talk and his story of the computer mouse
        a confection of ideas, substances and specialized work
        from mining through to other technologies … .’ No one
        person knows how to make a computer mouse. Not even
        the man who runs the factory..’
        B -t -s

      • Beth,

        I’ll see your mouse, and raise you the lowly pencil.

        http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html

        (And once you do learn to make it, how do you price all the component parts, the intermediate processes and the final product, so that it will actually sell? Go ask the Bureau of Pencils?)

  30. I work in a large company. Every few years the COE changes, and with him a whole lot of intermediary managers.
    New “organizational consultants” are hired, and we have new slogans plastered over our tired walls. Such as TQM (total quality management) and the like. .As I’m an engineer, I find such sloganeering an insult to intelligence.

    Seems Dr Curry is bored with science and fascinated with word salads/

    • Number salad,
      Word salad;
      Belly up
      To the Bar.
      ========

    • j,
      I am in the same boat and ironically, I am in management. The current business model seems focused on group effort at the expense of individual accomplishment. Strong individuals are marginalized and the herd is driven to mediocrity. I keep this quote on the wall of my office:

      “All the sick and sickly instinctively strive after a herd organization as a means of shaking off their dull displeasure and feeling of weakness…. The strong are as naturally inclined to separate as the weak are to congregate; if the former unite together, it is only with the aim of an aggressive collective action and collective satisfaction of their will to power, and with much resistance from the individual conscience; the latter, on the contrary, enjoy precisely this coming together – their instinct is just as much satisfied by this as the instinct of the born “masters” (that is, the solitary, beast-of-pray species of man) is fundamentally irritated and disquieted by organization.” – Frederich Nietzsche (“On the Genealogy of Morals” 1887)

      Have you noticed that none of these big corporate slogan driven programs ever get fully implemented? It seems that “business as usual” eventually takes over until the next regime and organizational change. Thrivability or sustainability or whatever is just another buzz word in the latest mission statement. Or perhaps I am just cynical and bitter…

    • “Have you noticed that none of these big corporate slogan driven programs ever get fully implemented?”

      Fully implemented? What’s to implement?? They are just empty slogans, words with no meaning whatever. You can’t implement slogans.
      It’s poets that think that words is all there is “out there”. Engineers don’t get poetry, and don’t have much time for poets.

  31. Thrivable reminds of that favorite climate science buzzword, robust.

  32. Stephen Wilde

    Joshua said:

    “Look at the evolution of many societies – say the US. A group (albeit, a very large one) that has thrived on a massive scale while creating and maintaining more “individual thrivability” than has ever existed previously on the planet.”

    Which makes my point doesn’t it?

    The US used to suppress groupthink in favour of individuality. That is why both individuals and group thrived relative to other systems. The more groupthink infiltrates the system the less thriving there is for both group and individuals.

    The UK was once another similarly individualistic nation.

    • The US used to suppress groupthink in favour of individuality. That is why both individuals and group thrived relative to other systems. The more groupthink infiltrates the system the less thriving there is for both group and individuals.

      It is a very nice theory – but it doesn’t comport with reality as you are attempting to apply the theory. Average standards of living – a reasonable metric for “thrivability” – are (outside of relatively insignificant magnitude of variability) higher in this country (and other similarly structured Western societies) than they have been throughout history. As are individual freedoms.

      What is your point of comparison – this country when a large % of the population were enslaved, when women were disenfranchised, when signs in places of business disallowed entrance of dogs and Jews? This country when wealth disparities were considerably higher than they are now (as bad as they are now)? When poverty rates for the elderly where double or triple? When access to healthcare and education were less widespread?

      Methinks you have a skewed way of measuring “thrivability.” Why don’t you go ahead and specify how you’re measuring it, so that I can understand what you’re talking about better.

  33. Wow.

    Such Luntzian use of language.

    Why say “corporate subsidy policy” when you can say “thrivability policy”?

    People starting to catch onto the myth of “cheap energy” actually meaning “subsidy to the richest companies on the planet”?

    Switch to thrivability.

    The public mind starting to understand the cost of global warming due private profiteers dumping their liabilities on the public purse?

    Change their focus to thrivability.

    Talk starting to focus on solutions you don’t like?

    Derail it with thrivability.

    We HAD thrivability. Then we got talked into cheap energy that ended up driving an upward spiral of costs throughout the economy because that’s what subsidies do.

    We thrived. Now, we sacrifice jobs for oil. You believe pipelines create jobs? Pipelines don’t create squat by way of benefit. America has built pipelines faster in the past decade than any other decade in history. If pipelines created jobs, we’d be swimming in jobs. Instead, Kalamazoo and almost an average of a pipeline incident a day. Pipelines create incidents. That is not thrivability.

    It’s cheaper to refine oil from organic waste than from Alberta tarsand. Why is Canada forcing this LESS thrivable toxic goop down America’s every orifice? I’m not saying America ought turn to pyoil while there are alternatives, but if tarsand’s more expensive than pyoil to refine, what sort of salesmanship could possibly induce America to choose it?

    Why, the same salesmanship as comes up with thrivability.

    It’s health. We had it.

    Do you feel healthy?

    Do you think the economy is healthy?

    Do you think the government is healthy?

    Do you think what people are telling you is healthy?

    • Ask yourself why China is nailing down every stray hydrocarbon bond on Earth, including those you fabulously imagine Canada is forcibly introducing into America’s every orifice.
      ===================

      • American oil pipeline companies are constantly moving pipelines but they move themselves because they don’t have any workers.

  34. Dr. Curry’s efforts to raise the philosophical implications of climate science driven policy is to be applauded. Going back to the first IPCC report, the endgame was always and remains actionable policies. If people in power were not advocating stark choices with real consequences (e.g. Keystone, UK fracking, German Energiewende, Australian carbon taxes and undispatchable wind versus dispatchable coal,…) perhaps AGW discussions could be limited to the validity and residual uncertainty of the underlying science. But they aren’t and it can’t be.
    The simple words sustainable, resilience, thrivable are neologistic place holders for more subtle, complex, and perhaps somewhat overlapping ideas. In a world where sound bites matter, these become important in the same way that ‘pro-life’ is the same as ‘antiabortion’ in an alternative political policy debate having’sustainable’ implications. Since CAGW policy advocates make much use of at least some such labels (sustainable), dissecting them is IMO a worthy learning exercise. Gets to core issues behind the equally neologistic labels of adaptation versus mitigation, and the precautionary principle, all central to AGW policy perspectives.
    Therefore, I personally find much of the above commentary to Judith’s post disappointingly off-topic, below the standards she aspires to. That said, thrivable conditions are a bit nebulous for my taste, at least as defined by Jean Russell.

  35. Leave propaganda and sloganeering to propagandists. This does not imply it’s unimportant.
    If Dr Curry would concentrate on refuting or “denying” bad climate-science papers or reports – that would be an enormous contribution to science and truth.

    • Dr Curry is doing JUST FINE!!!!! Don’t try to limit what she posts!!!

      If there is something she posts that you don’t like, just don’t read that.

      Don’t tell us that what you wamt to read is what all the rest of us want to read!!!!!

  36. It’s funny when social “scientists” “discover” concepts that have been around for centuries, and think they have something new because they attach a new word to it.

    Google “free market” and “thrive” and see how many hits you get.

    “Among civilised and thriving nations, on the contrary, though a great number of people do not labour at all, many of whom consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the society is so great that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman, even of the lowest and poorest order, if he is frugal and industrious, may enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniences of life than it is possible for any savage to acquire.”

    Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

    Combine a free market system, with the Judeo-Chritian ethic, and you allow people to thrive, which is their nature, in a humane, generous, free society. It is the intrusive “elites” who use the governments they so love to “manage” society, that constrain this natural human tendency.

    CAGW is the antithesis of “thrivability.” The whole point being to constrain society by limiting its access to cheap energy. Pol Pot was more vicious than our current greens, but he had the same idea. Force mankind to retrench.

    We conservatives have been trying to get you progressives, moderates, independents and luke warmers to get out of the way of humanity though out the debate.

    Don’t worry though. Thrivability will become passe’ as soon as y’all realize that the massive government programs you want are incompatible with the concept.

    • The first part of that paragraph, against which is opposed civilization:

      The abundance or scantiness of this supply, too, seems to depend more upon the former of those two circumstances than upon the latter. Among the savage nations of hunters and fishers, every individual who is able to work, is more or less employed in useful labour, and endeavours to provide, as well as he can, the necessaries and conveniences of life, for himself, or such of his family or tribe as are either too old, or too young, or too infirm to go a hunting and fishing. Such nations, however, are so miserably poor that, from mere want, they are frequently reduced, or, at least, think themselves reduced, to the necessity sometimes of directly destroying, and sometimes of abandoning their infants, their old people, and those afflicted with lingering diseases, to perish with hunger, or to be devoured by wild beasts.

      And here’s the beginning of the whole section:

      [Definition.] The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.

      [Corrolary.] According therefore as this produce, or what is purchased with it, bears a greater or smaller proportion to the number of those who are to consume it, the nation will be better or worse supplied with all the necessaries and conveniences for which it has occasion.

      [Proviso.] But this proportion must in every nation be regulated by two different circumstances; first, by the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which its labour is generally applied; and, secondly, by the proportion between the number of those who are employed in useful labour, and that of those who are not so employed. Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or scantiness of its annual supply must, in that particular situation, depend upon those two circumstances.

      Source: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/smith-adam/works/wealth-of-nations/intro.htm

      What follows is even more interesting. A sneak preview:

      Nations tolerably well advanced as to skill, dexterity, and judgment, in the application of labour, have followed very different plans in the general conduct or direction of it; those plans have not all been equally favourable to the greatness of its produce.

  37. Matthew R Marler

    thrivability

    This basically is what entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, and researchers have always striven for, with and without government support.

    • The following remark might apply to concepts like thrivability:

      In general, it seems that nothing about the actual behavior of an object is ever necessary for it to have the dispositions it has. Many objects differ from one another with respect to their dispositions in virtue of their merely possible behaviors, and this is a mysterious way for objects to differ.

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dispositions/

  38. Wasting huge amounts of money on windmills is not sustainable, not mitigating anything, not no-regrets, not promoting resilience, not thrivable and not robust. It’s just idiotic. Same for biofuels. So, call a spade a spade, and no need for new buzzwords.

  39. John Hagel says:

    “Resilience is used very loosely as a term, so there are many different definitions. But across all the talks given in that conference (and much of the literature I have read outside the conference) there is one common theme that can be reduced to a simple phrase: it is the ability to “bounce back” in the face of unexpected shocks. In engineering, it is the ability of a material or structure to resume its original size and shape after being deformed. In systems science, it is the ability to return to equilibrium, steady state or original function after a shock to the system. In social analysis, it is the capability of a social group to absorb disturbance and reorganize to retain essentially the same function structure and identity.”

    It is interesting that this statement, while being a correct dictionary style definition, completely misses what engineering is all about. In doing so, he feels he needs to invent a whole new concept. He is wrong about the art and practice of engineering.

    Engineering is about creating the best you can given the physical and financial constraints. One of the key components of any engineering design process is projecting future needs and uses. Returning to some equilibrium state is far outside concepts of engineering.

    However, there is a use for the Thrivable concept. It need not be directed at Engineers. It should be directed towards government decision makers. It is they that over-constrain reconstruction and development efforts.

  40. Just swap out sustainability and resilience for resilience and thrivability and I think that my comment on the previous thread fits for this thread just as well:

    Forget sustainability resilience – it’s about resilience thrivability

    It’s always interesting how climate debate combatants compulsively construct logical fallacies to rest their arguments upon.

    This reminds me of the silly debate that raged for days about the distinctions between measurement and estimation.

    Or the bogus dichotomy some try to construct between adaptation and mitigation.

    Sustainability resilience and resiliencethrivability are not mutually exclusive, but inextricably linked. And even if it could be done, why would anyone want to
    “forget sustainability”resilience to achieve resiliencethrivability?

    Why do smart and knowledgeable offer such fallacious arguments?

    • Joshua

      Why do reasonably smart people prefer to play word games when discussing a topic as opposed to actually addressing the relative net merits of potential actions that can actually be implemented? It continues to escape me.

      • Reasonably smart?

        I think you’re in a minority here, Rob, but thanks for the compliment.

      • Rob,

        I would certainly welcome a discussion on what you call the “relative net merits of potential actions that can actually be implemented.”

        Since I have no idea what this means, I suggest you go first.

      • Willard
        That discussion involves a review of the specific actions that an individual government entity can take and whether those actions make sense to those who have to pay for the actions proposed. Since I am not particularly alarmed by rising CO2 levels impact on the US I do not have a long list of suggestions for the US.
        I’d offer the following for the US as making sense.
        1. I’d recommend that government not subsidize the insurance of homes threatened by damage due to weather. That action would help make homeowners on the coasts pay the true cost of insuring their homes.
        2. I’d recommend that federal funding be diverted from developing long term GCMs to short and mid-term regional weather models.
        3. I’d recommend the construction of several dozen modern nuclear power plants in the US to be built to standard designs, under different and vastly simplified regulatory processes in order to greatly speed the design and building of these facilities. The goal should be to have these plants operational in less than 8 years.
        4. I’d recommend implementation of a process for the inspection and grading of government infrastructure that is designed to prevent harm from adverse weather. The public has poor visibility of the condition of the infrastructure that prevents harms from severe weather.

    • Steven Mosher

      Joshua its not a fallacy. It’s simply an attempt to own the discourse by switching vocabulary. Folks do it all the time. You are particularly good at it.
      Its not an argument, its a tactic.

      • “It’s simply an attempt to own the discourse by switching vocabulary. Folks do it all the time. [I am] particularly good at it.”

        There, that’s better.

        Global warming/climate change/climate disruption
        Weather/climate
        Measure/estimate
        Ground truth/modeled data
        Accurate/useful
        Adaptation/resilience
        Mitigation/sustainability
        Thrivability (somebody please get a shovel and bury this horror of a word)/prosperity
        Tomato/tomahto

        Let’s talk about anything other than the fact that the goal of the consensus advocates is to decarbonize the economy.

      • Steven Mosher

        “Let’s talk about anything other than the fact that the goal of the consensus advocates is to decarbonize the economy.”

        of course thats the goal. nobody avoids talking about that.
        decarbonizing is a good strategy.

      • “decarbonizing is a good strategy”
        Sure. How do you do it? Can it be done at all? At what cost?
        All efforts so far have had an enormous cost, and have acheived little decarbonization. Continuing on the same road is crazy.

      • “decarbonizing is a good strategy”

        decarbonizing will be necessary if we run out of Carbon Based Fuel. If we decarbonize before we run out and cannot do it without harming our Energy Supply and Economy, it is not a good strategy”

  41. This is a great post. I often find Taleb the type who sees all the world’s developments through his own theory-of-the-month. But this one makes a good point…

    The West has already gone “all-in” on its bet for future thrivability; it just doesn’t know it yet. Nothing from Green energy, to public high-quality healthcare, to increased civil liberties materializes without strong growth.

  42. The idea that all this derives from an essentially conservative and negative position is spot on. It’s there in most aspects of green/environment politics. it assumes things are getting worse and the best we can do it make the best of it.

    I have a nagging feeling this is largely a western phenomenon, born from disfunctional politics and moribund economies. I suspect that if you went to China or India then people are too pre-occupied with getting themselves onto the speeding train to care about what’s going on in the rear-view mirror.

  43. Outstanding post, Dr Curry. I, too, found Taleb’s book, Anti-fragile, to be difficult, and accorded much of this to his style of writing and ceaseless anecdotes of middle-eastern origins.

    It seems to me that Anti-fragile encompasses the concept of Thrivability, instead of the other way around. At any rate, I am trying to figure out a practical investment strategy to encompass Taleb’s principles.

  44. “A swimmer caught in a rip current should not attempt to swim back to shore directly against the rip…” “The rip is like a treadmill which the swimmer needs to step off. The swimmer should remain calm and swim parallel to the shore…” – Wikipedia.

    Jean Russell’s diagram got me thinking about running on the CO2 treadmill. Swimming against the current.

  45. Pielke’s statement is wishy-washy and doesn’t convey any risk of a large climate change in this century. If that is what the AGU wanted to say, they would not find it important enough to issue any statement. Clearly they have weighed up the probabilities and forcing changes and come up with a significant rate of climate change as a central estimate, especially with no mitigation. Having found this, they would be negligent not to issue a statement so that attention is paid to this probability.

    • I will re-post this on the correct thread.

    • come up with a significant rate of climate change as a central estimate, especially with no mitigation. Having found this, they would be negligent not to issue a statement so that attention is paid to this probability.

      When this significant rate of climate change only comes from climate models that show NO skill and that does not show up in actual real data, it would be EXTREMELY negligent to issue any alarmist statements.

  46. Hmm, wonder why my response to Gary M is awaiting moderation?
    It’s on thread, decorous and cites reliable sources. :-(

  47. I haven’t read this post or the comments yet, but…
    “Black Swans, in Taleb’s parlance, are “large-scale unpredictable and irregular events of massive consequence.’ ”
    … I think it is a mistake to ignore the little black swans, the small-scale unpredictable and irregular events that collectively lead to an evolution in our systems. Not just the DNA kind of evolution. Positive and beneficial? It’s all in the context. Is change good or bad? Both, obviously, and a lot depends on how fast it occurs. I’ll have to read that book.

    • Little black swans or even ducks…

      ‘Two ducks sliding on the river
      trailing matching v’s of silver,
      side by side, wakes expanding
      like the universe to
      become one glorious
      merging double-u.

      BC

    • Beth is on to something with her “wakes expanding”. Consider Hagel’s examples quoted above.
      computer – read the history of computing articles on Wikipedia and tell me which event was the big black swan. You will see lots of little black swans, including the invention of the transistor and it’s black swan offspring.
      the Internet – the Wikipedia history of the internet will also show that this was not one big black swan
      World War I – the consensus is that the Archduke was assassinated by the Black Hand, and that this was one trigger in a whole mess of black swans (not many white ones in this story). Wikipedia says: “The deepest distinction among these accounts is between stories that see it as the inevitable and predictable outcome of certain factors, and those that describe it as an arbitrary and unfortunate mistake.” Whatever.
      the stock market crash of 1929 – Black Thursday. Lots of waves spreading out from this one. Not the first bubble, not the last. Nobody could see this coming?
      the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – waves and waves of repercussions. unpredictable? Remember 9/11 was the second attack on the WTC by Muslim terrorists.

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  50. Not only can we work to minimize our footprint

    The smallest footprint is a sharp point and it sinks deeply in the mud and muck.

    • If we have small footprints, how will future generations find anything good to follow.

      Our big footprints are our legacy and I am proud of our big footprints.
      More people live better than at any time in history. This did not happen with small footprints.

      The, so called, small footprints of Solar and Wind and Ethanol are morel like criminal behavior than any footprint that we should be proud of.

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