Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 4: The Future

Over the last three parts, we’ve been looking at the current kerfuffle in the supply chain, from the Just-in-Time supply model to natural supply systems and historic trade. Here we’ll be considering a few future scenarios — thought experiments about what would happen if we went down different transportation paths, from one extreme of local … More Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 4: The Future

Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 3: (Pre)Historical Trade

People have created large, complex cities and societies without fossil fuels in history and prehistory. In only one case that I know of did they depend on the shipment of staple foods and goods — and that was precarious. Traders did regularly move light-weight, valuable, robust goods over long distances, but a collapse in that … More Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 3: (Pre)Historical Trade

It’s Porridge Time!

Back in 2016, I published a post about porridge. Since then, I’ve looked at warm cereal mushes in Japan and Mexico. I’m reposting the original post below, but I’ll add my new favorite oatmeal recipe, which isn’t just oats. Once upon a time in 1924, Gertrude Skilling Kavaner, of Manitoba, invented what would later become … More It’s Porridge Time!

Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 2: Natural Systems

Successful natural systems are resilient because they can withstand or adapt to changes in their surroundings. We could look at resilience in the animal, plant, and fungus kingdoms in many ways: pigeons and rats adapting to urban life, wood ticks expanding northward as temperatures warm, or polar bears trying to adapt to a world with … More Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 2: Natural Systems

Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 1: The Problem

If you have been trying to purchase anything lately — from a car or laptop to holiday gifts, or you’ve been watching the news — you’ll be aware of the disruptions in the global supply chain. This is an example of the inverse relationship between efficiency and resilience in systems. This week, we’re going to … More Efficiency vs. Resilience: Global Supply Chain Collapse – Part 1: The Problem

COVID Hubris, Collapse, and Resilience: Pandemic in the New World (Part 4)

In the year 1500, Europe was experiencing the Renaissance and the explosion of thought that followed the invention of the printing press. The Aztecs and Incas dominated large empires in the New World. When London and Rome’s populations numbered around 50,000 each, Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, was home to about 200,000. Cusco, the Inca capital, was only the size of London or Rome, but controlled an empire linked by 40,000 km (25,000 mi.) of roads. By 1533, both Tenochtitlan and Cusco were in Spanish hands. … More COVID Hubris, Collapse, and Resilience: Pandemic in the New World (Part 4)