This article by Paul Nieuwenhuis, Cardiff University was originally published on The Conversation. Since the industrial revolution, humans have been driving towards ever greater efficiency. In fact, efficiency – making the best possible use of the resources at hand – has become the core concept of how we run the world. On the face of it, being efficient makes us more in tune with our environment, by not being unnecessarily wasteful. However, it has in many cases led to a reduction in resilience, the ability to deal with change and crisis. Unlike humans, nature is more resilient but far less efficient: numerous plant seeds are dispersed just to allow some to germinate, and many animals have extremely short lifespans – both suggest a wasteful use of resources. The human way can bring insight and foresight to decision making, and we can be proactive. Nature is essentially reactive, but does adapt to changing environments. So how do natural systems build resilience, and how can humans harness it, too? One key element seems to be the natural tendency towards increasing diversity. But from a human perspective, diversity can add complexity and a degree of redundancy.