Disasters, including big, system-disrupting disasters, are likely to become more common over the coming decades. Whether they are caused by “ordinary” system failures (like the North American blackout of 2003), terrorism, pandemic, climate change or global instabilities, we should all be prepared to live through times of shortages, service interruptions and danger.
Conventional thinking about disasters in the developed world revolves around seeing that people are prepared as individuals to survive for the short time it takes the authorities to respond to the emergency situation and restore normality. Almost no thought is given to changing the models for systems to make them substantially less brittle and more resilient.
But our planet is getting more dangerous (even uninsurable) and, as New Orleans has shown, recovery is not always rapid, even in wealthy countries. While individual preparedness and government response continue to be vital, perhaps we need to be putting a lot more thought into how we make the neighborhoods in which we live less vulnerable to disasters in the first place. Working with our neighbors and local government to increase the resilience of our communities might be one of the smartest moves we can make.
On WorldChanging Alex Steffen writes the need to increase Neighbourhood resilience to shocks in Neighborhood Survivability: