1st Law of Vulnerability

In thinking about so many issues of resilience and robustness in social-ecological systems and some of the fragility that comes with societal attempts to protect against disturbances, I think that it makes sense for us to use a metaphor from the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.  This metaphor is that “Vulnerabilities cannot be eliminated”, although I suppose that we’re quite good at creating new ones (witness the escape of the Stuxnet virus).  What I mean about vulnerabilities not being eliminated is that we often respond to perceived vulnerability by shifting them.  We often shift them to others in acceptable (purchasing insurance) or unacceptable (shipping hazardous waste to the Developing World) ways spatially.  Or we shift them temporally.  Again, this may be acceptable (taking out loans to pay off current charges) or unacceptably (pushing environmental hazards intergenerationally).

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