A fresh perspective on
humanity’s future in a complex world

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Nature has survived for billions of years through extinctions, asteroids crashing into the Earth, and wild swings in climate. The strategies for persisting in an unpredictable world might hold clues for our future.

In a world of unpredictable complexity, nature’s experience comes in handy for investors, businesses, and every-day life. Counter-intuitive investments in redundant supply chains over just-in-time efficiency and decisions that bubble from the bottom-up rather than top-down commands buffer nature against shocks. Throughout human society, from engineers to businesses, we are learning that these strategies apply as much to the modern world as they do to leaf veins and bee hives.

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Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University. She is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and many other academic awards, as well as author of over a 100 scientific papers related to how people are manipulating the planet and its consequences for humanity.

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