Physical & Environmental Resilience

Physical and environmental resilience is about the sustained integrity and adaptability of the physical world in the face of physical stress, challenges, and damage, including the human body, the natural environment, and the built environment.

In the human body, physical resilience refers to how a person’s body adapts and responds to daily physical demands, illnesses, and injuries.  The human body already has an amazing ability to heal and recover. This innate resilience is a testament to the body’s inherent orientation towards health and well-being which is by nature a positive act.

Factors that contribute to physical resilience in the body include good physical condition, proper nutrition, and adequate rest and recovery. Physical resilience determines how people maintain good health, prevent and recover from illness or injury, and how they adapt to the aging process. 

In the natural environment, environmental resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to withstand and recover from disturbances, such as natural disasters, climate change, and other environmental challenges. For example, a resilient ecosystem may have a diverse range of species which can help it recover more quickly from fire or storm damage. Certain pioneer species of plants and animals will be among the first to return to the burned area, bringing change and restoration to the ecosystem. This demonstrates the natural, intelligent resilience and adaptability of the environment.

In the built environment, physical resilience refers to the ability of human-engineered systems to withstand and recover from physical stresses such as wear and tear, damage, and failure. For example, a resilient bridge may be designed to withstand earthquakes, high winds, and other physical challenges, and be able to recover quickly from damage. Animal crossing bridges on highways, which allow migratory animals to coexist with humans with minimal disruption, are an example of how intelligent design of human infrastructure can also be beneficial for environmental resilience.

We must design for adaptability and change as we move into the future. By considering the needs of both the natural and human worlds, we can create sustainable and resilient solutions.

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