The Snap Forward
The Snap Forward
Brittleness is the Fault Line

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Brittleness is the Fault Line

Acknowledging the scale of risk and vulnerability now surrounding us is shattering our cultural understanding of what works, what's valuable, and how we take care of each other.
CC: Kingprince

Hey friends—

In this installment, we discuss brittleness, triage and why realism is the soul of equity.

  • All human systems are designed and engineered with tolerances—limits on the conditions in which they can be expected to function. As the impacts of the planetary crisis worsen, the range of tolerances systems must be able to endure without failing grows. We can sometimes expand the range of acceptable tolerances for any given system — we can adapt — it is increasingly expensive to do so, especially as impacts compound, predicability breaks down, and our assessments of risks and the pace of change continue to downplay extreme shifts.

  • There’s no way we’re going to protect everything. That which is not worth enough to justify large investments in adaptation will generally not be saved. Every day we fail to act, more places and systems slip into future abandonment. The scale of that risk is currently outside of the mainstream in our current debate.

  • Incremental actions in adaptation can easily become a form of triangulation, in which the need to engage discontinuous impacts is acknowledged, but small and inexpensive steps are then put forward as evidence that action towards real transformation has begun. This is a bridge to nowhere.

  • We need to be having a reckoning with value and risk that allows us to engage in wholesale transformations, practice triage to minimize lost and wasted resources, and have tough conversations to make our choices fairer and more effective. We are currently incapable of this on a national level, here in the U.S., and are lagging far behind reality in every wealthy nation. It’s a surreal situation.

  • But Wile E. Coyote can’t hang in mid-air forever.

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