“However, our case studies show that, in hindsight, prehistoric societies sometimes made choices that increased rather than decreased their vulnerability. Note, robustness vulnerability trade-offs are very subtle, particularly with changes in slow variables. It is difficult for people in any society to detect the new vulnerabilities they are creating until they experience them.“
Schoon, M., C. Fabricius, J. M. Anderies, and M. Nelson. 2011. Synthesis: vulnerability, traps, and
transformations—long-term perspectives from archaeology. Ecology and Society 16(2): 24. [online]
Doubly difficult (or exponentially more difficult?) if the rich and powerful are able to offload the (short to medium term!) costs of decreased resilience onto the poor/powerless, and to hire some media/academic goons to say everything is ticky-boo, the market/human ingenuity will provide.
Ah, since I’m here, I may as well add the other bit of the article that was particularly quote-worthy.
Tradeoffs between robustness and performanc and robustness and vulnterability
However, there are always winners and losers, and the social problem of distributing benefits and costs is significant. Thus, people face, at a minimum, a two-level problem of navigating robustness–performance trade-offs and the more subtle, frequently imperceptible, associated robustness– vulnerability trade-offs.
… two further challenges. First, the time scales relevant to these two trade-offs pit the short-term and rapid decision making regarding performance against the longer term vulnerability concerns that are often governed by slow-changing variables. The second issue surfaces when building robustness to relevant shocks runs counter to the immediate desires of society. Decisions to migrate (as in Anderies and Hegmon 2011), to trade (Janssen 2011) or to nucleate (Nelson et al. 2011a) may all be responses to system shocks and perceived vulnerabilities, or they may be decisions made for wholly different reasons such as individual or societal values and beliefs.