Debating the Pros and Cons of Deep Adaptation? Start Here with a New Edition of Original Paper

Two years after the original 2018 Deep Adaptation paper was released, an updated version is now available. 

It is only one paper within an increasing field of academic scholarship on dangerous climate change and societal collapse. However, given that it is so widely referenced by proponents and critics, an updated version may be helpful. 

This blog summarises the key changes, a participatory means for future discussion of its strengths and weaknesses, and some advice on generative dialogue on collapse-relevant scholarship.  Continue reading “Debating the Pros and Cons of Deep Adaptation? Start Here with a New Edition of Original Paper”

The Creativity and Agency of Collapse-Anticipation

The Deep Adaptation agenda, framework and Forum is offered for anyone with any level of anticipation or experience of societal collapse. Whether people consider such a breakdown to be possible, probable, inevitable or already occurring, there is clearly a need to hold the space open for creativity and action from that basis. Since its launch in early 2019, the Deep Adaptation Forum aims to provide ways for people to explore together what they want to do with their awareness that industrial consumer societies will breakdown (or already beginning to). The emphasis is on enabling emergence, without imposing any ideas on what is most important to do now. Some people become active in climate campaigns, while others become focused on local resilience, others work on decolonisation and social justice, others on humanitarian action, others on politics, while others work on psychology, spirituality and beyond. All ideas and feelings are welcome, so long as we engage in ways that are kind, curious and respectful – and where we seek to return to that whenever we slip up.  Continue reading “The Creativity and Agency of Collapse-Anticipation”

Letter to Deep Adaptation Advocate Volunteers about Misrepresentations of the Agenda and Movement

Update: You can read a detailed response to the criticisms in the Open Democracy essay here, and reflections on some lessons and a revised edition of the Deep Adaptation paper here.  A response from Transition Towns co-founder in the Ecologist to the criticism is here.

Dear DA Advocates,

I write to inform you about an article in Open Democracy, which seeks to dismiss the Deep Adaptation agenda and movement by debunking the original Deep Adaptation paper. It is getting some profile on social media, including from some mainstream environmental professionals. It is the latest instalment of a concerted effort from some people in the climate field who wish to frame any talk of it being too late for societies to avoid collapse as being defeatist and counterproductive. Continue reading “Letter to Deep Adaptation Advocate Volunteers about Misrepresentations of the Agenda and Movement”

Why do modern humans oppress and destroy life on Earth? And what to do about it?

That modern humans have been oppressing and destroying life on Earth is the most obvious and salient observational fact of our time. I am interested in the deepest reasons for that, beneath the injuries from colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, anthropocentrism and such like. The core ‘why’ that is found within the collective psyche of modern humans, albeit to varying degrees. I call it the ideology of e-s-c-a-p-e, where each letter of the acronym describes a way of thinking and feeling, which co-produces our (now empirically-observable) omnicidal culture. The ideology expresses itself through us due to our understandable, but problematic, aversion to impermanence and death. Continue reading “Why do modern humans oppress and destroy life on Earth? And what to do about it?”

The Collapse of Ideology and the End of Escape

An essay on the deeper causes and implications of climate-driven societal breakdown, by Professor Jem Bendell.

(Long Read – 10,000 words)


If you have begun to anticipate the climate-driven collapse of societies, what can you wish for? I have written elsewhere about the problems of being attached to hope, if that means we falsely assume we can’t engage in the world creatively unless we have an expectation of a lasting positive outcome. But it can still be useful to reflect on what we actually wish for, given our assessments of what we think is inevitable, likely or possible in the near future. When asked by Vicki Robin recently “what might possibly go right,” I took some time to reflect on what might be a realistic wish of mine: one that I could honestly believe, rather than desire to believe in order to feel a bit better or to please an audience (which could be colleagues or a wider public). I found that what I wish for is a collapse of the ideology which has caused so much destruction and suffering, and which will continue to do so as our ecosystems, economies and societies break down. I wish for that ideology to collapse as soon as possible, because the longer it lasts, the more destruction will occur and the less able we will be to reduce harm, experience joy and find meaning as societies break down.

So what is this ideology that I blame for our predicament and wish would collapse as soon as possible? Why is it so bad? Why did it proliferate and, therefore, what could bring it crashing down? How can we live creatively and meaningfully by consciously freeing ourselves and each other from that ideology?

Continue reading “The Collapse of Ideology and the End of Escape”

Learning to Lead Deep Adaptation – join a course

I am pleased to announce the University of Cumbria are now taking enrolments for two short academic courses on Deep Adaptation leadership. These are the only academic short courses on DA that I intend to teach over the next 12 months. One option is an online course, with times suitable from East Coast USA to Europe and India. The other course is in-person over 4 days in the beautiful Lake District, UK, in April 2021.

Drawn together by their awareness of humanity’s predicament, the participants are diverse, such as University Vice Chancellors, Fund Managers, School Teachers, Management Consultants, Politicians and Environmental Activists. They are all challenged and supported in an inter-disciplinary exploration of both sustainability and leadership, where orthodoxies are deconstructed to help each other develop our leadership for an era of unfolding climate chaos. The course is framed with the perspective that societal breakdown is either likely, inevitable or already occurring (i.e. the Deep Adaptation Agenda). Continue reading “Learning to Lead Deep Adaptation – join a course”

Finding the Wisdom at Your Fingertips Away from the Headlines

If we look away from both the mass media headlines and the underground media conspiracies, we can find at our fingertips the incredible wisdom that exists in our world at this time of unprecedented global communication. The original promise of the internet as an enabler of the evolution of human consciousness seems far-fetched today as the interests of capital drive what most people see and don’t see, including outright political lies. However, the tools themselves mean that I can connect with you as I am now, and share links to the interviews I have conducted with people from around the world. If, like me, you are sometimes submerged by what the mass media invites you to focus on, then you can miss the abundant wisdom that exists at our fingertips. So, I have written this blog to once again breathe the fresh air of wisdom from people that I interviewed over the past year.

Continue reading “Finding the Wisdom at Your Fingertips Away from the Headlines”

Climate science and collapse – warnings lost in the wind

Over the past year more scientists have spoken candidly about the implications for humanity of recent climate observations and research. They have begun to warn more clearly of the potential and even likelihood of societal collapse due to the direct and indirect impacts of dangerous climate change. These warnings are being lost in the winds of news cycles and drowned out by scientists who prefer assessments that are less challenging to humanity and our elites. Therefore, in one place, here are some of the latest interpretations of the science from scientists who do not hold back. Continue reading “Climate science and collapse – warnings lost in the wind”

Deep Adaptation Quarterly – May 2020

Every three months, we summarise new activities and resources in the field of Deep Adaptation. We do not cover news on the latest science, weather, or impacts, as there are many other sources for that. Please forward this email to people who might be interested (subscribe here).

Founder’s Commentary – Jem Bendell

Since I edited our last newsletter, most of our lives have been shaken by the pandemic and the varying responses from governments, organisations and communities. It has been a time of increased uncertainty, vulnerability, dismay, grief, reflection, and brave loving action. In addition, many commentators are trying to make sense of it all, to predict the longer-term implications and influence policy agendas. It is too soon to say what the long-term implication will be, but it is already clear that climate change and environmental degradation are making it more likely for outbreaks of disease that originate from animals. That was something I wrote about here and then discussed with Bloomberg.

Some people who are engaged in Deep Adaptation have been wondering whether the impacts of Covid-19 are the start of societal collapse. Continue reading “Deep Adaptation Quarterly – May 2020”

Why Discussing Death Can Help Us With Life

Many people who receive a terminal diagnosis report experiencing a kind of renewal, a ‘coming back to life’. Suddenly being invited to reflect on one’s life can have the effect of bringing into focus what really matters, and bringing a sense of clarity and forgiveness to one’s relationships, and often one’s regrets. If you are part of a western, modern culture, it is likely that you have been socialised into believing that death isn’t a thing to be talked about in polite company. Our collective death aversion is being challenged in a way that is highly visible and affecting all of us around the globe right now. We don’t yet know how this pandemic will play out, how many of us will be directly affected by the virus-related death of a close family member or friend. But whether it’s to deepen our emotional resilience by becoming more able to express and process fear and sadness, or to make possible the difficult conversations about end-of-life planning, it’s time to talk about death. Continue reading “Why Discussing Death Can Help Us With Life”