Thomas Homer-Dixon


November 9th, 2006 —

The Upside of Down: Leveraging Catastrophe for Positive Change

Address to the World Affairs Council of Northern California

Speaker Introduction:

From the rise and fall of the Roman empire, to the devastation of the 9/11 attacks; from the slums of the megacities in Latin America and Asia, to ground zero of the SARS outbreak in Toronto and Hong Kong; we are, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, on course for breakdown. Simply managing our problems is no longer good enough. As population, energy, environmental, and economic stresses build in force deep underneath our societies, as our technologies grow more complex and interconnected, and as events in one place increasingly cause effects that cascade around the planet, major system failure becomes more likely. But rather than giving up in despair, we must embrace this possibility as an opportunity for revolutionary change. By adopting a “prospective mind” – a mindset adapted to constant surprise and instability – we can create something new from the unexpected, and something useful from turmoil and crisis.

To listen to the talk given to the World Affairs Council of Northern California, follow this link:

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