Coastal California has long been known for harrowing natural hazards: wildfires, drought, floods, the occasional tsunami, and, of course, earthquakes. It has also developed some serious human-made hazards too: chronic poverty, sea level rise, crime, pollution, riots, fragile energy grids, stratospheric housing costs, among others.
The state is, as urban theorist Mike Davis put it, steeped in "the ecology of fear." Armed with new data and strategies, cities are trying to ease their anxieties.
"Resilience" refers to cities' ability to weather and recover from discrete "shocks," such as earthquakes, and chronic "stresses," such as poverty and the predicted effects of climate change. California has become Ground Zero in the resilience movement.
Four California cities - Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco - have appointed "chief resilience officers" as part of a worldwide experiment in hazard mitigation and bureaucratic reform sponsored by New York-based nonprofit 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), project of the Rockefeller Foundation.