In pursuit of resilience, it helps to be rich

“Resilience”, as defined by these folks, is a useful framework for understanding drought and water management. The goal is a system that can withstand shock and retain its basic structure and function. For example by that metric, as Charles Fishman has pointed out, California during the current drought has demonstrated resilience.

New Orleans and Katrina is a counter example, a resilience failure.

Writing in this week’s Nature, Erwann Michel-Kerjan points to something that’s quite important:

A ‘five capital’ — 5 C — metric is essential. Physical capital includes the indirect products of economic activity, such as infrastructure; financial capital assesses financial protection and diversity of income sources; human capital pertains to the education, skills and health of people; social capital accounts for social relationships, leadership and governance structure; and natural capital includes land productivity, water and biological resources and actions to sustain them.

If you look at California’s resilience successes and failures in this regard, you can see a pattern. Places like Monson, which Brett Walton wrote about last week, are poor. They lack resilience. Places like Southern California’s Inland Empire, as Fishman pointed out, have built resilience into their water management, but it hasn’t come cheap.