Thomas Homer-Dixon

At this web site you’ll find information about my background, teaching, research, and writing. The site includes some of my writings as well as a Forum where we can discuss issues of common interest. 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.



Ebola Epidemic Could Precipitate Societal Collapse

September 18, 2014 in the Toronto Globe and Mail.      

If Ebola affects hundreds of thousands of people in West Africa, the epidemic will stop being a health problem, narrowly defined, and will instead become a problem of international security, because the epidemic will tear the worst-affected societies apart.


Go to: “Ebola Epidemic Could Precipitate Societal Collapse



June 23, 2014

Fixing the Connection between Science and Policy
with Heather Douglas and Lucie Edwards,
Toronto Globe and Mail

The connection between science and public policy within the federal government is broken, and the consequences for Canada are becoming disastrous. We propose four ways to fix this problem.

Go to “­­Fixing the connection between science and policy.


June 26, 2014  

Consider the Global Impacts of Oil Pipelines,
Nature, Comment

As scientists spanning diverse disciplines, we urge North American leaders to take a step back: no new oil-sands projects should move forward unless developments are consistent with national and international commitments to reducing carbon pollution. Anything less demonstrates flawed policies and failed leadership.

Go to: Consider the Global Impacts of Oil Pipelines.  (photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post via Gett


December 20, 2013 

Seeing Past the Fracking Hype: It doesn’t change oil-supply fundamentals: Toronto Globe and Mail

Evidence is accumulating that hydrofracking, at least when it comes to oil, has been hyped. Yes, the US is experiencing a short-term production boom, but then its output will fall steeply. Globally, fracking isn’t going to change the fundamentals of the planet’s worsening oil-supply crunch.

Go to “Seeing Past the Fracking Hype.” (image US Energy Information Administration)




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.




Catastrophe Response Surface

Catastrophic Dehumanization: the Psychological Dynamics of Severe Conflict

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 presentation.