The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

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Island Press, Apr 16, 2010 - Political Science - 448 pages
7 Reviews
Environmental disasters. Terrorist wars. Energy scarcity. Economic failure. Is this the world's inevitable fate, a downward spiral that ultimately spells the collapse of societies? Perhaps, says acclaimed author Thomas Homer-Dixon - or perhaps these crises can actually lead to renewal for ourselves and planet earth.

The Upside of Down 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 spellbinding book analyzes what happens when multiple crises compound to cause what the author calls "synchronous failure." But, crisis doesn't have to mean total global calamity. Through catagenesis, or creative, bold reform in the wake of breakdown, it is possible to reinvent our future.

Drawing on the worlds of archeology, poetry, politics, science, and economics, The Upside of Down is certain to provoke controversy and stir imaginations across the globe. The author's wide-ranging expertise makes his insights and proposals particularly acute, as people of all nations try to grapple with how we can survive tomorrow's inevitable shocks to our global system. There is no guarantee of success, but there are ways to begin thinking about a better world, and The Upside of Down is the ideal place to start thinking.




 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rafe - LibraryThing

For me this is an important book at an important time. The author uses the analogy of the Roman empire's collapse to show the warning signs facing global civilisation by explaining how, like an ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBreedlove - LibraryThing

The author is an expert on energy resources and its relationship to society. He writes about complex systems and their eventual failure being a time of danger and renewal. He compares todays global ... Read full review

Contents

prologue Firestorm
1
one Tectonic Stresses
9
two A Keystone in Time
31
three We Are like Running Water
57
four So Long Cheap Slaves
77
six Flesh of the Land
129
seven Closing the Windows
153
eight No Equilibrium
177
nine Cycles within Cycles
207
ten Disintegration
235
eleven Catagenesis
265
The Last Rock
297
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About the author (2010)

Thomas Homer-Dixon is Director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is author of the acclaimed books The Ingenuity Gap (Knopf, 2001) and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence (Princeton University Press, 1999).



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