Beyond Climate War: Writings on Deep Adaptation to societal collapse

It is now four years since I first delivered a keynote lecture on the need to discuss what if it is too late to avert catastrophic damage to our societies from the direct and indirect impacts of climate and ecological damage. In that talk, I asked whether we don’t talk about it because of our fears. Because we can fear we will descend into despair and inaction. Or we might fear we will be attacked by our peers and dismissed by our friends. I suggested we needed to overcome such concerns, to explore what an anticipation of societal collapse might mean for our personal, professional and political lives. I offered a framework of questions to begin that conversation and called it Deep Adaptation. By taking time off from my job as a University Professor, I studied the climate science more closely, and reached my personal conclusion that societal collapse in most countries in my lifetime is now inevitable. That meant I could not keep working on sustainable development and corporate sustainability any longer and released a paper in 2018 called Deep Adaptation. That was part of my process of moving on and transforming, not knowing what would come next.

The paper went viral and fuelled a new wave of activism, with Extinction Rebellion, and a new global network of people freely supporting each other, called the Deep Adaptation Forum.

During 2020, increasing numbers of people have been hearing about this paper, analysis, framework and community from its critics. My friends tell me that this negative reaction indicates that it has become a movement that matters. On the one hand, it is disappointing that people are hearing constant misinformation about what we are doing and why, and the implications for climate activism and policy. On the other hand, perhaps criticism of collapse anticipation is the safest way for members of the general public to first hear about this possibility, as only those who are emotionally ready will explore further.

Every time there is criticism, after the initial disappointment, I tune back in with what is most important to do. Which is why I have written this new blog. For people new to this topic, there is a need for a simpler way of accessing writings on the many aspects of Deep Adaptation. Therefore, this blog links to a range of areas, such as mitigation, psychology, science, activism, social justice, spirituality and so on, mostly from my personal blog. That is because, prior to July 2020, my focus was on communicating only with people who were interested in the Deep Adaptation agenda, so they could work with each other better on it. That summer, public misrepresentations of Deep Adaptation led to me writing a couple of things in Resilience and Open Democracy, which I also list below. Still now I have not sought media coverage, and instead respond when journalists get in touch, which has led to mixed results, as they bring their own aversions and agendas. Therefore, if you are a journalist reading now and think it an important topic for accurate representation and sober discussion, I hope the links from this blog will be a useful means of orienting yourself on the topic.

If you would like to see what other people are saying about Deep Adaptation, consider the new blog at the Deep Adaptation Forum or my Youtube channel. Please use the comments function to add your favourite writings on the Deep Adaptation agenda.

Summaries of the Deep Adaptation Agenda

The Love in Deep Adaptation – A Philosophy for the Forum.

Adapting deeply to likely collapse: an enhanced agenda for climate activists?

Dialogue on Deep Adaptation

To Criticise Deep Adaptation, start here | openDemocracy

Emotional and Psychological Implications

Emotional support in face of climate tragedy

After acceptance – some responses to anticipating collapse

Fourteen Recommendations on Living Beyond Collapse-Denial.

Hope in a time of climate chaos – a speech to psychotherapists.

Forgiving the destructive tendency in everyone as climate chaos grows.

How Everything Can Collapse – my foreword to new book.

The Deep Adaptation Paper and Controversy

Versions of the Deep Adaptation paper.

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

The study on collapse they thought you should not read – yet

Inviting Scientists to Challenge or Improve Deep Adaptation.

The Worst Argument to Try to Win: Response to Criticism of the Climate Science in Deep Adaptation.

Climate scientist speaks about letting down humanity and what to do about it.

Climate science and collapse – warnings lost in the wind.

Mitigation and Drawdown of Carbon

Catastrophe – Collapse – Apology – Words missing from the IPCC report

Mother Earth Says #MeToo – XR Launch, London, 15 April 2019.

Come clean or step down – speech at the Fracking Shale Gas site of Cuadrilla, Lancashire.

The Future of Climate Activism

Our Power Comes from Acting Without Escape from Our Pain (with XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook)

Nature Doesn’t Do Deals – why we rise on climate.

Striking for Climate Safety.

What Activism Next? Ideas for Climate Campaigners.

Let us hail over 500 scientists and scholars for their courage on societal disruption and collapse.

Does anticipating societal collapse motivate pro-social behaviours? (with Dorian Cave)

Processes of Disruption and Collapse

Notes on Hunger and Collapse.

The Climate for Corona – our warming world is more vulnerable to pandemic.

Implications for Philanthropy

Charity in the Face of Collapse: The Need for Generative Giving not Strategic Hubris.

Implications for Businesses

An Open Letter to Business Supporters of Extinction Rebellion.

Avoiding Davos Disease as Climate Activists.

The Deep Adaptation Forum

Positive Deep Adaptation Group on Facebook.

The Deep Adaptation Forum launches.

Source a Spokesperson on Deep Adaptation.

Glocalising DA – launching Deep Adaptation Groups Network.

Finding the Wisdom at Your Fingertips Away from the Headlines.

Responses to the ‘anti-doomer’ arguments

Barriers to Dialogue on Deep Adaptation

Responding to Green Positivity Critiques of Deep Adaptation.

Don’t police our emotions – climate despair is inviting people back to life.

Please Don’t Shut up Mr Franzen – breaking the taboo on our climate tragedy.

Letters to critics of Deep Adaptation inviting collaboration for humanity.

Deep Adaptation Quarterly – with Rumi’s Secret Medicine – Sept 2020.

When the Methane News Stinks – let’s not forget to Breathe then Act.

If guys with guns are talking about collapse, why can’t we?

Facts on Deep Adaptation in response to a New York Times style article.

Ways of Gathering on this Topic

Gathering Ourselves for Deep Adaptation.

A Pandemic of Love – deeply adapting to corona.

Why Discussing Death Can Help Us With Life.

Facilitation for Deep Adaptation- IFLAS Occasional Paper 6 – with Katie Carr

Leadership and Governance in Deep Adaptation

Leadership for Deep Adaptation.

Advancing the Movement of Deep Adaptation to our Climate Tragedy – New Governance and Strategy Processes.

The Creativity and Agency of Collapse-Anticipation.

Deep Adaptation is Up to You as Founder Transitions.

How to lead in the face of societal disruption.

Leading in a time of dying – notes for talk at ILA 2020.

Practical and Policy Responses

Why Deep Adaptation needs re-localisation.

Currency innovations for communities responding to climate emergency.

Gathering in groups as society falls apart – by Vicki Robin.

The economics of extinction: a reason for rebellion.

Deeply Adapting Diets – meat-free or self-sufficiency?.

Social Justice

Will We Care Enough to Matter to Them? Climate Justice, Solidarity and Deep Adaptation..

Co-liberation for white guys like me facing climate chaos.

Parenting and Schooling

Documentary about Children facing Climate Collapse – Oskar’s Quest.

Philosophical Implications

The Collapse of Ideology and the End of Escape.

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

How do we disentangle from destructive ideology? The cosmos remedy.

Existential and Spiritual Implications

Hope and Vision in the Face of Collapse – The 4th R of Deep Adaptation

The Spiritual Invitation of Climate Chaos.

Extinction Redemption – A Letter to the Earth at Easter.

Restoration of Ancient Wisdom in a time of Pandemic.


AV resources on Deep Adaptation.

My channel on Youtube where I interview many people about Deep Adaptation topics.

Audio recordings of many of these articles, by Reverend Michael Dowd.

7 thoughts on “Beyond Climate War: Writings on Deep Adaptation to societal collapse”

  1. paragraph 16, sentence 2 – Here are some ideas that can (Insert the word – “be”) considered..

    Thanks for your work Jem,

    Jordan Van Voast, L.Ac.

  2. Dear Prof. Bendell –

    I only became aware of DA within the last few days, although the movement mirrors thoughts that I have had for some time.

    My husband and I were devastated by the election of Trump, feeling that all hope was then lost for our country–the USA–and for the world. After a lifetime of political activism, much of it in vain, I decided to retire from such efforts and leave them to younger people.

    Almost 3 years ago, my husband and I moved to Paris, France, where we feel much more at home than in the USA. The main issue for us now is that we are 75 and 77 years old, and we are afraid that any collapse will coincide with our extreme old age and possible infirmity, which is scary. Of course, we are also dealing now with the threat of the virus and expect to be vaccinated as part of the second cohort in France, possibly in February. In normal times, people facing a horrible immediate future can receive physician-assisted suicide in some European countries, but of course that system might break down at some point.

    My husband and I have been together for over 54 years, and when one of us dies, the other will probably follow soon after. The story of our meeting and our pictures were recently published in the NY Times.

    I want to thank you for your courage and clarity. In my experience, most people try to avoid facing up to unpleasant realities. I hope I do not live to see the death of our civilization and our species, but it looks like I will live to see the exit of Trump from office, which will give me great satisfaction in this time of doom and gloom. I am glad we do not have children.


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