Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Resiliency as a Core Competency

Randers' 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years is turning into a must read.  Page after page you find something insightful and interesting in the context of engineering.  Between now and 2052, we are in for a wild ride with respect to our global weather.  Resiliency design thinking, emergency response/community stability, and reconstruction are core competencies that the engineering community must be able to bring to the table over the next 40 years.

From the book:

"The insured loss from natural disasters appears to have increased threefold over the last thirty years.  It currently runs at around $130 billion per year - $0.15 trillion per year - which is "only" 0.2% of the world GDP.  But the damage in 2011 was three times higher: a full $0.4 trillion per year.  If the damage keeps increasing, we could be speaking of disaster spending of 1% of world GDP per year in the longer run.  The reason is both that the weather will get wilder and that an increasingly crowded world will end up building expensive infrastructure in exposed places, like on the coast or on floodplains."

One other core competency - cost/benefit analysis for may areas impacted by rising sea levels will be simply "defend or retreat" decisions.  Placing engineers at the node of the "defend or retreat" decision will require engineers to have a complete understanding of the social, economic, political, and technological forces involved in this most difficult decision.

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