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Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World [Paperback]

By Brian Walker, David Salt & Walter V. Reid (Foreward By)
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Item Number 378003  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   174
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 22, 2006
Publisher   Island Press
ISBN  1597260932  
EAN  9781597260930  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Increasingly, cracks are appearing in the capacity of communities, ecosystems, and landscapes to provide the goods and services that sustain our planet's well-being. The response from most quarters has been for "more of the same" that created the situation in the first place: more control, more intensification, and greater efficiency. "Resilience thinking" offers a different way of understanding the world and a new approach to managing resources. It embraces human and natural systems as complex entities continually adapting through cycles of change, and seeks to understand the qualities of a system that must be maintained or enhanced in order to achieve sustainability. It explains why greater efficiency by itself cannot solve resource problems and offers a constructive alternative that opens up options rather than closing them down. In Resilience Thinking, scientist Brian Walker and science writer David Salt present an accessible introduction to the emerging paradigm of resilience. The book arose out of appeals from colleagues in science and industry for a plainly written account of what resilience is all about and how a resilience approach differs from current practices. Rather than complicated theory, the book offers a conceptual overview along with five case studies of resilience thinking in the real world. It is an engaging and important work for anyone interested in managing risk in a complex world.

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More About Brian Walker, David Salt & Walter V. Reid

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Brian Walker is a Research Fellow in Australia's CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Visiting Researcher in the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Chair of the Resilience Alliance.
David Salt is a science and environment writer at the Australian National University, and has more than two decades experience writing and producing popular science magazines and books.
Both authors live in Canberra, Australia.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A very accessible book  Oct 31, 2008
A very accessible book as an introduction to concepts of resilience. Nice use fo case studies which means that an educated layman can get the concepts, and see them applied. I'll be buying several copies as gifts this year for this express purpose.

Todd Davies
Resilience in the environment  Oct 5, 2008
This is a fascinating and very timely book. Easy to read and understand with many examples from real life.
Makes one understand why the serious problems in our world's environment will not go away unless we fix them. And some very practical ways to do that.
Resilience in a nutshell and put simply  Apr 5, 2008
Brian Walker, Program Director Resilience Alliance and a scientist with the CSIRO. Canberra Australia, has, with the assistance of science writer David Salt, written the best and most straightforward work on ecological resilience entirely suitable for a wide audience of readers; activists, teachers, scientists from any number of disciplines, interested in gaining a familiarity with a study area that is of critical importance in this present world of catastrophe, forever changing with the calamitous onset of climate change and where stategies of adaptation are quite indequate mechanisms for survival in the white-water world we will have to navigate.

It is not a scientific treatise but a work from which all interested readers will benefit substantially no matter what their background or credentials. This is a twentyfirst century production coauthored with a skilled science writer and a model for any NGO or scientific group who wish to influence and inform policy makers with something they can readiliy understand.. Resilience capability and building such capacity is perhaps the best, but still uncertain, way to buffer social-ecological systems--your everyday environment--from unpredictable, disastrous events and accompanying change. Adaptation and models based on orthodox science are unfortunately inadequate to meet such crises. I recommend this book to any concerned person no matter their level of understanding. They will find something new and enlightening here.
Gem of Useful Education  Feb 25, 2008
This is a gem of an educational book. Mixing case studies with elaborating chapters on key concepts, it's as a good a volume as I have found for teaching undergraduates, graduates, and practitioners (farmers, factory managers, investors) the core ideas needed to restore a sustainable social-ecological system.

Highlights for me:

+ Optemization is a false premise, simplifies complex systems we do not understand, with the result that we end up causing long-term damage.

+ Resilience thinking is systems thinking. I cannot help but think back to all of the excellent work in the 1970's and 1980's--the authors were simply a quarter century ahead of their time.

+ In a nut-shell, resilient system can absorb severe disturbance.

+ System resilience is affected by context, connections across scales of time and space, and current system state in relations to threshholds.

+ Fresh water, fisheries, and topsoil depletion are major failures.

+ Drivers of environmental degradation are poverty, willful excessive consumption, and lack of knowledge (from another book, I recall that changes to the Earth that used to take 10,000 years now take three, one reason we need real-time science).

+ Key concepts are threshholds and adaptive cycles. Adaptive cycles have four phases: Rapid Growth; Conservation; Release; and Reorganization.

+ Redundancy is NOT a dirty word (just as intelligence--decision support--should not be a dirty word within the United Nations)

+ Ecological networks cannot be understood nor nurtured with a tight linking and understanding of the social networks that interact with the ecological networks.

+ Subsidies are a form of social denial, as they subsidize unsustainable practices and prevent adaptation and change.

+ Lovely--absolutely lovely--chart on page 89 about time-scales of climate and natural disasters like major fires.

+ One size does not fit all--solutions for one social-ecological network, e.g. in the USA, will not be the same as for another, e.g. in Norway.

+ Diversity is the key to regeneration.

+ Governances must be able to see and act upon key intervention points.

+ A Resilient world would be characterized by:

1. Diversity
2. Ecological variables
3. Modularity
4. Acknowledgement of slow variables
5. Tight feedbacks
6. Social capital
7. Innovation
8. Overlap in governance
9. Ecosystem services

Within this small and very easy to absorb book one finds a great annotated bibliography of recommended readings, a fine reference section, and a very solid index.

Other books that come to mind as complements to this one (limited to ten links by this site):
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design
High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy
The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster, and the Water We Drink
Good Case Studies, poor writing  Dec 11, 2007
This book is Latour's actor network theory in another guise, with the physicalization of Kuhn's paradigm shift thrown in for good measure. It is a very interesting book on an emerging way to look at environmental crises (note, not the environmental crisis. We seriously need local knowledge and local experience to manage each individual ecosystem).

My major issues with this book are twofold. One is that it is not well written, though not altogether poorly written, you can simply tell when the science writer came in to jazz things up. Secondly, the authors spend a little too much time trying to convince the reader that resilience thinking is NEW, DIFFERENT, SUBVERSIVE, and the like. We get, on page 29, something that I just cannot stand: a little briefer than brief history of challenge to dogma. Galileo spoke out about the Copernican model (which was still perfect circles, Kepler had it right but Galileo ignored him) and the church shot him down. Darwin dared to say species change and the world exploded! Now, we, the humble new scientists bring you a new challenge to the dogma of ecology today. Give me a break! I would have thought a science writer on the team would have had the experience to leave out this trite nonsense. Just tell me about your idea and spare me the drama! Sorry, but poor history of science is a real pet peeve. :-)

But either way, this is still an important book that should be read by ecology students, politicians, resource managers, and anyone interested in new ideas. The case studies are really informative and clear, and the message is properly urgent

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