Thomas Homer-Dixon

10 results found for: Nonlinear Behavior


November 15th, 2014 —

Today’s Butterfly Effect Is Tomorrow’s Trouble

Around the world, national institutions and political systems are designed to deal with single-cause problems and incremental and reversible change. But the world ain’t like that any more. Take a problem like climate change. Its causes are many and tangled; the climate system has flipped from one state to another in the past, and could do so again under human pressure; and once it flips, we won’t be able to get the old climate back.

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January 22nd, 2012 —

Detecting and Coping with Disruptive Shocks in Arctic Marine Systems: A Resilience Approach to Place and People

An article in the journal Ambio
Ongoing and rapid rapid changes in the physical environment of the marine Arctic will push components of the region’s existing social-ecological systems beyond tipping points and into new regimes. We emphasize the need to understand the Arctic’s role in an increasingly nonlinear world; then we describe emerging evidence on the connectivity of system components from the subarctic seas surrounding northern North America; and finally we propose an approach to allow northern residents to observe, adapt and—if necessary—transform the social-ecological system with which they live.

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October 6th, 2011 —

Tipping Toward Sustainability: Emerging Pathways of Transformation

This article explores the links between agency, institutions, and innovation in navigating shifts and largescale transformations toward global sustainability. Our central question is whether social and technical innovations can reverse the trends that are challenging critical thresholds and creating tipping points in the earth system, and if not, what conditions are necessary to escape the current lock-in. Large-scale transformations in information technology, nano- and biotechnology, and new energy systems have the potential to significantly improve our lives; but if, in framing them, our globalized society fails to consider the capacity of the biosphere, there is a risk that unsustainable development pathways may be reinforced. Current institutional arrangements, including the lack of incentives for the private sector to innovate for sustainability, and the lags inherent in the path dependent nature of innovation, contribute to lock-in, as does our incapacity to easily grasp the interactions implicit in complex problems, referred to here as the ingenuity gap. Nonetheless, promising social and technical innovations with potential to change unsustainable trajectories need to be nurtured and connected to broad institutional resources and responses. In parallel, institutional entrepreneurs can work to reduce the resilience of dominant institutional systems and position viable shadow alternatives and niche regimes.

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May 5th, 2010 —

Complexity Science and Public Policy

On May 5, 2010, I had the honour of giving the Manion Lecture for the Canada School of Public Service, in Ottawa, Canada. The article is a revised text of the lecture, titled “Complexity Science and Public Policy.”

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June 1st, 2009 —

The Newest Science: Replacing Physics, Ecology Will Be the Master Science of the 21st Century

In June, an article titled “The Newest Science,” appearing in Alternatives Journal, argues that while physics was the master science of the 20th century, ecology will be the master science of the 21st century.

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May 7th, 2009 —

Podcast: ELAC Podcast “Uncertainty, Lags, and Nonlinearity: Challenges to Governance in a Turbulent World”

Lecture at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC). Accompanying Powerpoint slides: http://www.elac.ox.ac.uk/downloads/Podcasts/Homer_Dixon_slides070509.ppt (PPT) Listen to the podcast:

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October 30th, 2008 —

Climate Change, the Arctic, and Canada: Avoiding Yesterday’s Analysis of Tomorrow’s Crisis

Canadian policy makers should shift their attention and resources commensurately. While policymakers, wedded to an outmoded worldview, fret about what Arctic climate change might do to national power directly in the basin, human wellbeing could be devastated around the world by cascading consequences of shifts in the Arctic’s energy balance. Ironically, these changes could – in the end – do far more damage to state-centric world order and even to states’ narrowly defined interests than any interstate conflicts we might see happen in the newly blue waters of the Arctic.

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April 25th, 2007 —

Conflict in a Nonlinear World

On April 25, 2007, Thomas Homer-Dixon presented the Ingar Moen Memorial Lecture to the Science and Technology Symposium of Defence Research and Development Canada on “Conflict in a Nonlinear World: Complex Adaptation at the Intersection of Energy, Climate, and Security.”

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January 1st, 2002 —

The Rise of Complex Terrorism

Modern societies face a cruel paradox: Fast-paced technological and economic innovations may deliver unrivalled prosperity, but they also render rich nations vulnerable to crippling, unanticipated attacks. By relying on intricate networks and concentrating vital assets in small geographic clusters, advanced Western nations only amplify the destructive power of terrorists and the psychological and financial damage they can inflict.

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January 2nd, 2001 —

A World That Turns Too Fast

When things happen faster, in greater numbers, and with greater interactive complexity, we need more ingenuity to make the right decisions at the right time – that is, we need a greater flow of practical ideas to solve our technical and social problems. But sometimes we can’t supply enough ingenuity to meet this soaring need. There is, if you like, an ingenuity gap.

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