ADVERTISEMENT

Resource Supply Chains Under Threat From Climate Change

The human race relies heavily on what the earth has to offer: minerals from underground, food from land and sea. We know how important these resources are for us, but what we don’t often think about it how important it is that these resources get to us.

You could say that our supply chains make the world tick. Without them, we just won’t be able to access all the products and services that we rely on day-to-day. But these vital linkages are under threat.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season saw three major hurricanes make landfall in U.S. territories – something unprecedented in both strength and scale of damage. Earlier in the year, on the other side of the world, ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie left a trail of havoc for both rural and urban communities as widespread heavy rainfall caused heavy flooding. Debbie left farms, mines, rail lines and storage facilities flooded, directly impacting global commodity prices.

So how can we make our supply chains more resilient in the face of these disruptive events? And with climate change expected to bring more severe, and possibly more frequent, extreme events – what do we need to do to ensure that they function as they are meant to?

Is it about complexity?

In a recently published study on the journal ‘Global Environmental Change’, Lilly Lim-Camacho and Eva Plaganyi-Lloyd of Australia’s CSIRO, with their co-authors, simulate climate-related disruptions to supply chains of three key sectors: fisheries, agriculture, and minerals. They compared how complex (those with lots of links and nodes) and simple chains performed under various states of disruption. Using network modelling approaches, they found that more complex chains tend to have more resilience to disruptions akin to extreme weather events, than simple chains.

There is not one measure for resilience, though. The authors used various indices including key elements, evenness, resilience, continuity of supply and climate resilience. These indices estimate the performance of simple and complex supply chains under disruption. Combined, they provide us with an indication of which chains are more likely to recover from climate shocks. And some chains don’t – particularly the really simple ones.

ADVERTISEMENT

The problem is, we don’t like complexity. We like simple, efficient, lean chains.

For a long time, supply chain experts focused on the concept of ‘lean’. It makes sense; lean supply chains saves resources – time, money, energy. But this approach has already been challenged, as it doesn’t allow supply chains to retain a certain level of flexibility, or agility, which allows them to shift if circumstances need them to. So we need to find a balance between the quest for efficiency, and our attempt at agility, and the time to do that is now. Climate change and its swath of extreme events is upon us, and we no longer have the leisure to just learn from experience. Our resource supply chains are far too important for us to just ‘wait and see’. If we develop and apply ways to measure, monitor, adjust or transform the performance of our supply chains under disruption, then were one step closer to securing our place in the future.

This study, Complex resource supply chains display higher resilience to simulated climate shocks was recently published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Comments

READ THIS NEXT

Cerebral Blood Flow In Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition associated with alternating episodes of depression and mania or hypomania. Depression is a period […]

Horseshoe Crabs Living Through A Crisis

Horseshoe crabs, or limulids, are some of the strangest of shoreline creatures. There are only four species today, three of […]

When Rock Meets Life

It all started in 2005 during a trip to the United States, where I went to a famous conference in […]

Theoretical Study Of Non-Covalent Interactions In Benzene And Substituted Benzene

The role of non-covalent interaction in various physical, chemical, and biochemical processes are well known and, hence, have attracted many […]

What Are Wood Bees?

Wood bees, also known as carpenter bees, are a type of bee named for the way they make their home: […]

Mussel Immune Responses As Indicators Of Fecal Pollution

Marine coastal areas worldwide are impacted by effluent discharges, especially close to big cities, receiving a wide range of pollutants […]

What Is Gluconeogenesis?

Glucose is the most important source of energy for living organisms. Living organisms rely on energy derived from glucose to […]

Science Trends is a popular source of science news and education around the world. We cover everything from solar power cell technology to climate change to cancer research. We help hundreds of thousands of people every month learn about the world we live in and the latest scientific breakthroughs. Want to know more?