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Climate change, energy crises, environmental pressures, population stress, economic instability and inequity: is this a world on the brink of catastrophe? There’s reason to think so. But, as this crucial new book explains, these ‘tectonic stresses’, massive and frightening though they are, are not the end of the story.
From the precarious moment in which we now find ourselves, Thomas Homer-Dixon looks back to ancient Rome and the fall of another great civilization. He shows in lucid and compelling terms how breakdown looms when a society outgrows its capacity to sustain itself.
But unlike the Romans, he argues, we are equipped to avert disaster. Armed with hindsight, increasingly knowledgeable about the complex systems in which we live, we may even be able to turn the inevitable changes creatively to our advantage.
My aim is to begin a conversation about why breakdown of some kind is becoming more likely, how we can keep it from being so severe that it’s debilitating and what we can do to exploit the opportunities it presents when it happens.
‘This is a splendid and necessary book, full of fascinating historical detail and profound reflections on the future.’
‘His zeal for his subject, the prospect for humanity to devise and adopt strategies to overcome the economic crises confronting it, never wanes. Nor, it need hardly be said, can the impportance of the subject matter be doubted…His analysis of the particular problems themselves is informed and persuasive. The account of global warming could be offered to anyone seeking a one-stop explanation of the issue that does not oversimplify.’