By Tad Homer Dixon, Knopf Canada

Commanding Hope marshals a fascinating, accessible argument for reinvigorating our cognitive strengths and belief systems to affect urgent systemic change, strengthen our economies and cultures, and renew our hope in a positive future for everyone on Earth.

by David Bonbright

If you watched the excellent series on the Chernobyl disaster, you can see with perfect hindsight why many say that Chernobyl was the proximate cause for the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

You can see it in the way incentives drove bad decisions, which reinforced each other. This is what complexity science calls a positive feedback loop. The recent winter storms in Texas offer another teachable moment, illustrating how failures in one system cascade over to other systems. Freezing rain and snow break the electric and heating grid. Pipes break and the water system collapses. Transport stalls and stores are not restocked. An already overstrained health system drops more services. The science points to more of these breakdowns – and, let’s be clear, there is no credible dissent to the science. In this light, isn’t it time to prepare for it “just in case”? We’re Living in a Global Polycrisis: It’s Time to Build Resiliency, by David Bonbright, Giving Compass.  

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s anti-dystopian novel, climate change is the crisis that finally forces mankind to deal with global inequality.

New York Review, by Bill McKibben

The prolific science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, who is at heart an optimist, opens his newest novel, The Ministry for the Future, with a long set piece as bleak as it is plausible. Somewhere in a small city on the Gangetic Plain in Uttar Pradesh during the summer of 2025, Frank, a young American working for an NGO, wakes up in his room above a clinic to find that an unusually severe pre-monsoon heat wave has grown hotter still and more humid—that the conditions outside are rapidly approaching the limit of human survival. Actually, conditions inside are approaching the same level, because the power has gone out.

Read full review here

The COVID-19 pandemic is widely seen as a potential turning point after which almost everything could be different. Margaret MacMillan, the eminent historian, has compared this crisis to the French and Russian revolutions – points at which the river of history changed course. And it’s almost certain that as a result of this crisis there will be big changes: expectations of the state’s ability to look after its citizens will be higher; the public and financial markets may be more accepting of government borrowing; government will be expected to manage the labour market to provide a minimum level of security for vulnerable workers. It will be a far cry from the free-market, small state policies of the 1980s and 1990s. Yet it is far from obvious that this crisis, even one that is deep and severe, will lead to a turning point of the kind that MacMillan suggests.

Charles Leadbeater, Nesta. Read the full article here…

We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future. The added stresses to human health, wealth, and well-being will perversely diminish our political capacity to mitigate the erosion of ecosystem services on which society depends. The science underlying these issues is strong, but awareness is weak. Without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problems and the enormity of the solutions required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals. 

Paul Ehrlich et al., Frontiers in Conservation Science.. Read Full Article

In this video, Nate Hagens, Director of EnergyandOurFuture.org, covers the state of the economy, environment and human cultural situation in the face of the recent Coronavirus.

The question and answer session from this talk is available here.

In this article, Robert Kuttner and Katherine V. Stone delineate how “the private capture of entire legal systems by corporate America goes far beyond neoliberalism. It evokes the private fiefdoms of the Middle Ages.”

The Cascade Institute is a Canadian research centre addressing the full range of humanity’s converging environmental, economic, political, and technological crises. Using advanced methods for mapping and modeling complex global systems, Institute researchers will identify, and where possible help implement, high-leverage interventions that could rapidly shift humanity’s course towards fair and sustainable prosperity.

The Institute is located at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, a leader in training professionals to apply creative solutions to entrenched problems. Its director is Thomas Homer-Dixon, an award-winning scholar and author with deep experience in using complexity science to anticipate, analyze, and respond to global threats.

 

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for Our Times, co-authored by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens, provides “a valuable guide to help everyone make sense of the new and potentially catastrophic situation in which we now find ourselves.”

Resilience.org supports building community resilience in a world of multiple emerging challenges: the decline of cheap energy, the depletion of critical resources like water, complex environmental crises like climate change and biodiversity loss, and the social and economic issues which are linked to these. Created by the founders of the Post Carbon Institute, Resilience.org functions as “a community library with space to read and think, but also as a vibrant café in which to meet people, discuss ideas and projects, and pick up and share tips on how to build the resilience of your community, your household, or yourself.”

Image from Yann Coeuru at Creative Commons