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The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization

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The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Environmental disasters. Terrorist wars. Energy scarcity. Economic failure. Is this the world's inevitable fate, a downward spiral that ultimately spells the collapse of societies? Perhaps, says acclaimed author Thomas Homer-Dixon - or perhaps these crises can actually lead to renewal for ourselves and planet earth.

The Upside of Down takes the reader on a mind-stretching tour of societies' management, or mismanagement, of disasters over time. From the demise of ancient Rome to contemporary climate change, this spellbinding book analyzes what happens when multiple crises compound to cause what the author calls "synchronous failure." But, crisis doesn't have to mean total global calamity. Through catagenesis, or creative, bold reform in the wake of breakdown, it is possible to reinvent our future.

Drawing on the worlds of archeology, poetry, politics, science, and economics, The Upside of Down is certain to provoke controversy and stir imaginations across the globe. The author's wide-ranging expertise makes his insights and proposals particularly acute, as people of all nations try to grapple with how we can survive tomorrow's inevitable shocks to our global system. There is no guarantee of success, but there are ways to begin thinking about a better world, and The Upside of Down is the ideal place to start thinking.

Review:

"With easy-to-understand terminology and a mountain of research, Toronto author Homer-Dixon (The Ingenuity Gap) faces down imminent, unavoidable and catastrophic threats to modern civilization, keeping a wary eye on mankind's chances to adapt. Methodically illustrating how the modern world is doomed to suffer a large-scale breakdown, Homer-Dixon enumerates the 'tectonic stresses' on civilization-population growth disparities, energy scarcity, environmental damage, and economic instabilities-and the 'multipliers'-increasing global connectivity and small groups' ability to enact destruction-that help propel them. Woven throughout are well-illustrated comparisons between the current state of industrialized nations-especially the U.S.-with the unsustainable complexities, and subsequent downfall, of the Roman Empire. With each page, humanity's situation seems more dire, but Homer-Dixon argues that the force of 'catagenesis'-the 'commonplace occurrence of renewal through breakdown'-means that good will come from the collapse of civilization as we know it. Unfortunately, he offers few practical suggestions as to how we can prepare for civilization's inevitable failure, and little evidence on which to hang hope. As a result, the book takes on a tone of doomsday prophecy directly at odds with its title. Where Homer-Dixon succeeds admirably is in explaining exactly why modern stresses are so worrisome and the outcomes that neglect could cause." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Homer-Dixon takes the reader on a mind-stretching tour of societies' management, or mismanagement, of disasters over time. From the demise of ancient Rome to contemporary climate change, this spellbinding book analyzes what happens when multiple crises compound to cause what the author calls "synchronous failure."

Synopsis:

Environmental disasters. Terrorist wars. Energy scarcity. Economic failure. Is this the world's inevitable fate, a downward spiral that ultimately spells the collapse of societies? Perhaps, says acclaimed author Thomas Homer-Dixon - or perhaps these crises can actually lead to renewal for ourselves and planet earth.

About the Author

Thomas Homer-Dixon is a rising star in North American discussions of politics and the environment. A political scientist by training and director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His most recent published book, The Ingenuity Gap (2000), won the Governor General's literary prize for non-fiction.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Firestorms

1. The White Wall

2. From Catastrophe to Creativity

3. A Keystone in Time

4. We Are Like Running Water

5. So Long, Cheap Slaves

6. Overload

7. Flesh of the Land

8. Closing the Windows

9. No Equilibrium

10. Cycles within Cycles

11. Disintegration

12. Catagenesis

Epilogue: Baalbek: the Last Rock

Product Details

ISBN:
9781597260640
Subtitle:
Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization
Author:
Homer Dixon, Thomas
Contribution:
Resource &. Conflict Analysis
Author:
Homer-Dixon, Thomas
Author:
Thomas Homer-Dixon
Publisher:
Island Press
Subject:
Environmental policy
Subject:
Public Policy
Subject:
Sustainable Development
Subject:
Political Freedom & Security - International Secur
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
General Current Events
Subject:
Public Policy - General
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
International Security
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
20080215
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Figures
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization Used Hardcover
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$17.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Island Press - English 9781597260640 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "With easy-to-understand terminology and a mountain of research, Toronto author Homer-Dixon (The Ingenuity Gap) faces down imminent, unavoidable and catastrophic threats to modern civilization, keeping a wary eye on mankind's chances to adapt. Methodically illustrating how the modern world is doomed to suffer a large-scale breakdown, Homer-Dixon enumerates the 'tectonic stresses' on civilization-population growth disparities, energy scarcity, environmental damage, and economic instabilities-and the 'multipliers'-increasing global connectivity and small groups' ability to enact destruction-that help propel them. Woven throughout are well-illustrated comparisons between the current state of industrialized nations-especially the U.S.-with the unsustainable complexities, and subsequent downfall, of the Roman Empire. With each page, humanity's situation seems more dire, but Homer-Dixon argues that the force of 'catagenesis'-the 'commonplace occurrence of renewal through breakdown'-means that good will come from the collapse of civilization as we know it. Unfortunately, he offers few practical suggestions as to how we can prepare for civilization's inevitable failure, and little evidence on which to hang hope. As a result, the book takes on a tone of doomsday prophecy directly at odds with its title. Where Homer-Dixon succeeds admirably is in explaining exactly why modern stresses are so worrisome and the outcomes that neglect could cause." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Homer-Dixon takes the reader on a mind-stretching tour of societies' management, or mismanagement, of disasters over time. From the demise of ancient Rome to contemporary climate change, this spellbinding book analyzes what happens when multiple crises compound to cause what the author calls "synchronous failure."
"Synopsis" by ,
Environmental disasters. Terrorist wars. Energy scarcity. Economic failure. Is this the world's inevitable fate, a downward spiral that ultimately spells the collapse of societies? Perhaps, says acclaimed author Thomas Homer-Dixon - or perhaps these crises can actually lead to renewal for ourselves and planet earth.
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