Adaptive Capacity Labs

3/20 Decompensation

Another three-way conversation recorded

From a colleague with family in Madrid:

“I think it is very good that Ohio moved very swiftly; this was not the case in Madrid and the consequences are apparent. It is also shocking how fast everything happened… almost no issue by the beginning of the spring break, but major issues by the middle of the spring break, including widespread air travel disruption.

Anyway, another good case study for you… major nonlinear effects, brittleness, lack of preparedness and understanding… ugly.”

“The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.” Rudiger Dornbusch

 Though this is just the signature of adaptive system breakdown – decompensation – and the need for anticipation despite the difficulties in acting ahead of definitive need to expand the readiness to respond. Need to monitor the change in rate of change – people aren’t plotting that (though some give us hints).

In discussions of disasters and response, we have noted for complex systems, that the reserves directly available get exhausted quickly as the disruptions last longer than planned for. Eg fuel to power backup power systems, etc. This means resupply comes into play in ways that are not thought through or prepared for. Not having enough PPE (protective gear) and exhausting the supply quickly as demand goes up for a prolonged period.