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Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World Paperback – August 22, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1597260930 ISBN-10: 1597260932 Edition: F First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; F First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597260932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597260930
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Resilience Thinking is an impressive and highly successful effort to explain complex ecological and social interactions and changes in a unified framework and in language accessible to a wide audience. This book should stimulate extensive discussions on these critical issues and innovative ways to approach them."
(Harold Mooney Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology, Stanford University)


"Resilience Thinking provides a much-needed accessible entrée into a concept that holds the key to our future.... Full of wisdom, sophisticated science, and practical guidance, this book provides profound ideas, insights, and hope to scientists, students, managers, and planners alike."
(Jane Lubchenco Distinguished Professor of Zoology, Oregon State University)


"Resilience Thinking is an essential guidebook to a powerful new way of understanding our world—and of living resiliently within it—developed in recent decades by an international team of ecologists. With five clear and compelling case studies drawn from regions as diverse as Florida, Sweden, and Australia, this book shows how all highly adaptive systems—from ecologies to economies—go through regular cycles of growth, reorganization, and renewal and how our failures to understand the basic principles of resilience have often led to disaster. Resilience Thinking gives us the conceptual tools to help us cope with the bewildering surprises and challenges of our new century."
(Thomas Homer-Dixon Professor of political science, University of Toronto)


"...a clear, readable, non-academic explanation of the difference between an optimization mindset and a resilience mindset."
(GreenSpirit)


"This is one of those books that barely mentions planning as such, but has lots of implications for it. It's short but will repay some extra quiet time...Their goal is to get us to look at the world and its systems in a fresh new way."
(Planning)

About the Author

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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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A very accessible book as an introduction to concepts of resilience.
Todd Davies
This made for a well put-together, understandable explanation of complex adaptive systems, which are what ecosystems are currently understood to be.
Amazon Customer
I have been looking for a book to recommend to my clients and students and this is it.
Larry Quick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on July 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. I've read several books on this topic, and so far, they have all had a similar issue: They are written by people who are scientists first, writers second. This book has two authors. One is a scientist and the other is a science writer. This made for a well put-together, understandable explanation of complex adaptive systems, which are what ecosystems are currently understood to be.

The authors have done a few things to make the book great. First, they have broken the topic down into a set of subtopics, with one chapter explaining each subtopic. At the end of each chapter is a summary of important points so it's clear what the authors are hoping you get out of the chapter. Each chapter is then followed by a case study that is used to illustrate the ideas just covered.

If you are looking for an introductory book on ecosystems and how humans affect their ability to maintain themselves, this is the book to read. The authors also provide several good resources at the end of the book if you would like to expand your knowledge further.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Jared Langer on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Farrell on April 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
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.
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