Thomas Homer-Dixon

14 results found for: Resilience


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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December 24th, 2011 —

We’re Losing Our Past to Technology

An op-ed in the Toronto Globe and Mail
Today’s information technology is creating what we might call an Age of Ephemera. Our unprecedented ability to store and transfer gargantuan amounts of information obscures this information’s modern fragility.

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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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April 22nd, 2010 —

Video: Global Change, Creativity, and Resilience: Outsourcing in a Turbulent World

“Global Change, Creativity, and Resilience: Outsourcing in a Turbulent World,” 2010 Annual Conference of the Centre for Outsourcing Research & Education, keynote address, Toronto, Ontario. View the presentation.

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June 8th, 2009 —

The Great Transformation: Climate Change as Cultural Change

A speech to a conference in Essen, Germany. I’m delighted to be here with you this evening, in part because this is my first visit to the Ruhr. This region has an extraordinary history as a crucible of an industrial revolution that was, of course, powered by coal. And coal is a substance that will [...]

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June 8th, 2009 —

Podcast: Speech to a conference on “The Great Transformation: Climate Change and Cultural Change” (part 1 of 2)

On June 8, 2009, I gave a speech to a conference in Essen, Germany on “The Great Transformation: Climate Change as Cultural Change,” in which I identified the cognitive, economic, political, and normative components of the coming cultural transformation arising from climate change.

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June 8th, 2009 —

Podcast: Speech to a conference on “The Great Transformation: Climate Change and Cultural Change” (part 2 of 2)

On June 8, 2009, I gave a speech to a conference in Essen, Germany on “The Great Transformation: Climate Change as Cultural Change,” in which I identified the cognitive, economic, political, and normative components of the coming cultural transformation arising from climate change.

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August 18th, 2008 —

Everything Is Not Peachy

Our baby was fussing for her next feeding, and our pre-schooler was turning summersaults on the couch as he negotiated for the next episode of Sesame Street. Meanwhile, we were up to our elbows in hot syrup and peeled peaches – and we still had another fifteen pints of the little devils to go.

Canning our own peaches seemed like a terrific idea at first. We’d been talking about household self-sufficiency for years. We love Ontario peaches, and they were coming into season. And we’d even bounced the idea off our parents. During their recent visit, the conversation had turned to higher fuel prices and how they’d make locally produced food more competitive with imported food. So we announced our plan.

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