Thomas Homer-Dixon

At this web site you’ll find information about my background, teaching, research, and writing.  If you’d like to receive my newsletter, just enter your email address in the box at the bottom of the page. Enjoy your visit.

 

 

Featured

A Trump Presidency

President Trump will make chaos the new normal

Toronto Globe and Mail, November 24, 2016.

 

The biggest danger is that he’ll repeatedly misjudge the situation he’s facing, make bad mistakes in response and then stubbornly double down on those mistakes – ultimately producing outcomes such as race riots, financial panics or war.

 

Go to “President Trump will make chaos the new normal

(Cartoon by David Parkins, ‘The Economist’)

 

WHAT’S NEW

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 5: Supporters cheer as republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the CFE Federal Credit Union Arena in Orlando, FL on Saturday March 05, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

October 17, 2016

How Donald Trump would reshape America
Toronto Globe and Mail

Fear is a potent solvent of political liberty, and fear would be Mr. Trump’s most powerful tool in his efforts to retain and build his power. The playbook has already been written by his favourite dictator: Vladimir Putin.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Go to How Donald Trump would reshape America.

 

August 8, 2016geo2

How Alberta could champion a new energy source
Toronto Globe and Mail

Alberta will be forced to diversify its economy in many directions. But investment in research and development of one particular technology – enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) – could help fill the economic gap left by declining fossil-fuel extraction.

Go to How Alberta could champion a new energy source.

 

April 22, 2016leap man3

Start the Leap revolution without me
Toronto Globe and Mail

The Leap Manifesto entangles efforts to move forward on climate policy with a host of other matters that are part of a larger ideological agenda. So it’s a profoundly divisive document at the very moment when we need to find common ground on climate change.

Go to Start the Leap revolution without me.

 

January 25, 2016

What Is Really at Stake in Extremist Attacks
Toronto Globe and Mail

So far, extremists haven’t effectively exploited available technologies or our open societies’ vulnerabilities. But eventually one or more of them will be really smart. When that happens, we mustn’t let our fear destroy the freedoms that extremists hate most.

Go to What is really at stake in extremist attacks.

 

No . . . I did not say wind energy is “Idiot Power”

A poster widely circulated on the Web highlights text, purportedly written by me, that says wind power inevitably suffers an energetic deficit. The poster is fraudulent. I didn’t write the text, the text itself is selectively quoted, and the argument it makes, taken in isolation, is meaningless.

More details are here.

 

December 14, 2015

Don’t Peddle Climate Fantasies
Toronto Globe and Mail

Technologies barely conceived today will be needed to generate the massive “negative emissions” required to keep warming to 2 degrees Celsius, let alone to 1.5 degree.

To this point, climate skeptics have generally been the ones living in fantasy land. They’ve told themselves warming isn’t happening, that humans aren’t causing it, that it won’t cause much harm, or that we’ll eventually invent a neat technology to solve the problem.

Now, when the skeptics are in retreat and the world finally sees climate change for the appalling crisis it is, those of us who have been working for action shouldn’t be peddling new fantasies.

Go to Don’t Peddle Climate Fantasies.

 

November 15, 2014

Today’s Butterfly Effect Is Tomorrow’s Trouble
Toronto Globe and Mail

The monarchs are in trouble, but why should anyone but nature lovers care? There are two big reasons. First, what’s happening to monarchs seems to be happening to many other species around North America and the world. And second, what’s happening to monarchs reveals key things about the increasingly complex problems humanity faces.

Go to “­­Today’s Butterfly Effect Is Tomorrow’s Trouble.

 


RESEARCH PAPERS

Synchronous Failure: The Emerging Causal Architecture of Global Crisis

with Brian Walker, Reinette Biggs, Anne-Sophie Crépin, Carl Folke, Eric F. Lambin, Garry D. Peterson, Johan Rockström, Marten Scheffer, Will Steffen,  and Max Troell
Ecology and Society 2015, 20(3): 6.

Recent global crises reveal an emerging pattern of causation that could increasingly characterize the birth and progress of future global crises. A conceptual framework identifies this pattern’s deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes. The framework shows how multiple stresses can interact within a single social-ecological system to cause a shift in that system’s behavior, how simultaneous shifts of this kind in several largely discrete social-ecological systems can interact to cause a far larger intersystemic crisis, and how such a larger crisis can then rapidly propagate across multiple system boundaries to the global scale. Case studies of the 2008-2009 financial-energy and food-energy crises illustrate the framework. Suggestions are offered for future research to explore further the framework’s propositions.

View the paper.

 

The Conceptual Structure of Social Disputes: Cognitive-Affective Maps as a Tool for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

with Manjana Milkoreit, Steven J. Mock, Tobias Scröeder, and Paul Thagard
SAGE Open, January-March 2014: 1-20.

We describe and illustrate a new method of graphically diagramming disputants’ points of view called cognitive-affective mapping. The products of this method—cognitive-affective maps (CAMs)—represent an individual’s concepts and beliefs about a particular subject, such as another individual or group or an issue in dispute. Each of these concepts and beliefs has its own emotional value. The result is a detailed image of a disputant’s complex belief system that can assist in-depth analysis of the ideational sources of the dispute and thereby aid its resolution. We illustrate the method with representations of the beliefs of typical individuals involved in four contemporary disputes of markedly different type: a clash over German housing policy, disagreements between Israelis over the meaning of the Western Wall, contention surrounding exploitation of Canada’s bitumen resources, and the deep dispute between people advocating action on climate change and those skeptical about the reality of the problem.

View the paper.

 

RESEARCH TALKS

Growth, Environmental Damage, and Innovation

Talk at the Annual Conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Toronto, April 12, 2014.

View the talk.

 

 

Catastrophic Dehumanization: the Psychological Dynamics of Severe Conflict

Catastrophic Response Surface

Catastrophic Response Surface

A presentation at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, April 17, 2012.

Dehumanization is arguably a defining feature of the most brutal acts of human violence, such as saturation bombardment of civilian populations, terrorist attacks on urban centers, intense battlefield combat, and genocide. I propose a psychological explanation of this phenomenon that uses a catastrophe manifold to describe a set of psychological states in an individual’s mind and the possible pathways of movement between these states. The manifold exists in a three-dimensional phase space defined by the variables identity, justice, and structural constraint. It specifies five hypotheses about the causes and dynamics of dehumanization. Taken together, these hypotheses represent an overarching theory of the nonlinear collapse of identification at the level of the individual.

View the talk.