No food, no fuel, no phones: Bushfires showed we're only ever one step from system collapse
This summer's bushfires were not just devastating events in themselves. More broadly, they highlighted the immense vulnerability of the systems which make our contemporary lives possible.
In a modern, wealthy nation such as Australia, how could this happen?
In answering this question, it's helpful to adopt "systems thinking." This approach views problems as part of an overall system, where each part relates to each other.
In other words, we need to look at the big picture.
Through a systems lens
Systems are everywhere, from the coral ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef to the vast technology networks of global financial markets. In a human sense, social systems range from the small, such as a family, to large organizations or the national or global population.
The systems I mentioned just now are "complex" systems. This means they are connected to other systems in many ways. It also means a change in one part of the system, such as a bushfire in a landscape, can set off unpredicted changes in connected systems—be they political, technological, economic or social.