In this talk given at The Resilience Gathering, Joanna Macy guides us how to suffer with the world and make responsible decisions that take into account our interconnectedness with all that is.
The Global Polycrisis is the sum total of all stressors affecting planetary health. It’s an unprecedented global systems problem. We need to understand it in order to respond as wisely as possible.
The Global Polycrisis is framed in many ways:
- The global problematique: A common term in policy circles
- Limits to growth: Focus on planetary ecological limits
- Civilizational collapse: If it happens, will it take us back 50 years, 100 years, or 1,000 years?
- Techno-optimism: The belief that technology will lead to a better future
- The End of the World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI): “A catastrophic event that destroys the existing institutions and norms of society.” (Oxford Dictionary)
- Consciousness change: The belief that spiritual or meta-cognitive shifts can change the world
- Community resilience: Focus on helping communities prepare
- Emergency planning: A universally accepted frame that can lead to exploration of the Global Polycrisis
As we face the Global Polycrisis, we see these issues and challenges:
The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.
- Climate crisis, biodiversity loss and more
- Poverty, unsustainable economic growth, pandemic diseases and more
- Electromagnetic frequency (EMF) pollution, displacement of people by robots, Big Data threats and more
The greatest threat we face
The Global Polycrisis is far greater than any individual stressor. Most institutions—governments, corporations, international institutions, and civil society organizations—avoid thinking about the Global Polycrisis. Read more.
Avoidance and denial
“Let’s not think about it” doesn’t solve anything.
If we prepare, future shocks may prove more survivable.
We care about all four forms of resilience work. Read more.
In many ways, the human condition is improving. Countless efforts to build resilient communities are underway around the world. Read more.
The Upside of Down by Thomas Homer-Dixon takes the reader on a mind-stretching tour of societies’ management, or mismanagement, of disasters over time. From the demise of ancient Rome to contemporary climate change, this book analyzes what happens when multiple crises compound to cause what the author calls “synchronous failure.” But crisis doesn’t have to mean total calamity. Through catagenesis, or creative, bold reform in the wake of breakdown, it is possible to
reinvent our future.
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
Bill McKibben’s Falter tells the story of converging trends—global warming, new technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics—and of the ideological fervor that keeps us from bringing them under control.
In this video episode of Unstoppable, environmentalist, activist, professor of genetics and science broadcaster David Suzuki hits us with some home truths about what our future will look like if we continue to live the way we have been.
Surviving the Future by David Fleming and Shaun Chamberlin lays out a compelling and powerfully different new economics for a post-growth world. One that relies not on taut competitiveness and eternally increasing productivity—“putting the grim into reality”—but on the play, humor, conversation, and reciprocal obligations of a rich culture.
This article from provides the historical context of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints directive to members to learn and prepare “to sustain yourselves and store extra for a time of need or adversity.” Church members have many times provided food for their own families and others across the globe in times of crisis and shortage. This article advises, “We too will be blessed as we follow the prophetic direction to be prepared.”
Transition US is a nonprofit organization that provides inspiration, encouragement, support, networking, and training for Transition Initiatives across the United States. We are working in close partnership with the Transition Network, a UK-based organization that supports the international Transition Movement as a whole.