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

by HOMER-DIXON THOMAS

December 15, 2008 | Hardcover |

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From the author of the #1 bestselling and Governor General's Literary Award-winning The Ingenuity Gap - an essential addition to the bookshelf of every thinking person with a stake in our world and our civilization.

This is a groundbreaking, essential book for our times. Thomas Homer-Dixon brings to bear his formidable understanding of the urgent problems that confront our world to clarify their scope and deep causes. The Upside of Down provides a vivid picture of the immense stresses that are simultaneously converging on our societies and threatening a breakdown that would profoundly shake civilization. It shows, too, how we can choose a better route into the future.

With the immediacy that characterized his award-winning international bestseller, The Ingenuity Gap, Homer-Dixon takes us on a remarkable journey - from the fall of the Roman empire to the devastation of the 9/11 attacks in New York, from Toronto in the 2003 blackout to the ancient temples of Lebanon and the wildfires of California. Incorporating the newest findings from an astonishing array of disciplines, he argues that the great stresses our world is experiencing - global warming, energy scarcity, population imbalances, and widening gaps between rich and poor - can't be looked at independently. As these stresses combine and converge, the risk of breakdown rises. The first signs are appearing in the wastelands of the Arctic, the mud-clogged streets of Gonaïves, Haiti, and the volatile regions of the Middle East and Asia. But while the consequences of denial in our more perilous world are dire, Homer-Dixon makes clear that we can use our emerging understanding of the complex systems in which we live to avoid catastrophic collapse in a way the Roman empire could not.

This vitally important new book shows how, in the face of breakdown, we can still provide for the renewal of our global civilization. We are creating the conditions for catastrophe, but by understanding the underlying principles that make human and natural systems resilient - and by working together to put those principles into effect - we can still limit the severity of collapse and foster regeneration, innovation, and renewal.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 6.3 × 9.45 × 1.18 in

Published: December 15, 2008

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676977227

ISBN - 13: 9780676977226

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– More About This Product –

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

by HOMER-DIXON THOMAS

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 6.3 × 9.45 × 1.18 in

Published: December 15, 2008

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676977227

ISBN - 13: 9780676977226

Read from the Book

From Chapter 1 All this turbulence makes it seem as if nothing is dependable. Shocks and surprises seem to rush toward us faster than ever before. As I sat among the Forum’s scattered ruins, trying to imagine what the place must have looked like two thousand years ago, I asked myself, Did the Romans ever have the same feelings? Were their certainties ever challenged, and did events ever seem out of control? I wondered whether the pressured, chaotic circumstances of today’s world are in any way like those that existed when the western Roman empire crumbled in the fifth century. How could anything that seemed so permanent and consequential, as Rome must have seemed in its heyday, be reduced to these scraps of rubble? Of course in the centuries since Rome’s fall, countless others have asked the same kind of questions, but I suspected we’d learn something new by asking them again now, in light of new studies of why societies sometimes collapse. Isn’t everyone intrigued by the idea of the fall of Rome? As a boy, I was fascinated by it. I marveled at Rome’s feats of conquest and engineering. They were the stuff of wonder. Rome’s legions subjugated Europe and North Africa and reached deep into western Asia, while its engineers built roads, aqueducts, temples, baths, and amphitheaters across the empire’s landscape. But what really drew me to the story was what it revealed about our human frailty. There was something both spectacular and
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From the Publisher

From the author of the #1 bestselling and Governor General's Literary Award-winning The Ingenuity Gap - an essential addition to the bookshelf of every thinking person with a stake in our world and our civilization.

This is a groundbreaking, essential book for our times. Thomas Homer-Dixon brings to bear his formidable understanding of the urgent problems that confront our world to clarify their scope and deep causes. The Upside of Down provides a vivid picture of the immense stresses that are simultaneously converging on our societies and threatening a breakdown that would profoundly shake civilization. It shows, too, how we can choose a better route into the future.

With the immediacy that characterized his award-winning international bestseller, The Ingenuity Gap, Homer-Dixon takes us on a remarkable journey - from the fall of the Roman empire to the devastation of the 9/11 attacks in New York, from Toronto in the 2003 blackout to the ancient temples of Lebanon and the wildfires of California. Incorporating the newest findings from an astonishing array of disciplines, he argues that the great stresses our world is experiencing - global warming, energy scarcity, population imbalances, and widening gaps between rich and poor - can't be looked at independently. As these stresses combine and converge, the risk of breakdown rises. The first signs are appearing in the wastelands of the Arctic, the mud-clogged streets of Gonaïves, Haiti, and the volatile regions of the Middle East and Asia. But while the consequences of denial in our more perilous world are dire, Homer-Dixon makes clear that we can use our emerging understanding of the complex systems in which we live to avoid catastrophic collapse in a way the Roman empire could not.

This vitally important new book shows how, in the face of breakdown, we can still provide for the renewal of our global civilization. We are creating the conditions for catastrophe, but by understanding the underlying principles that make human and natural systems resilient - and by working together to put those principles into effect - we can still limit the severity of collapse and foster regeneration, innovation, and renewal.

About the Author

Thomas Homer-Dixon is Director of the Trudeau Centre for the Study of Peace and Conflict at the University of Toronto. The Ingenuity Gap won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

Editorial Reviews

“Thomas (Tad) Homer-Dixon is the giant-killer of overwhelming issues.” – Toronto Star “[Thomas Homer-Dixon] is just the man for the job. . . . The book introduces general readers to a number of key concepts pursued by Homer-Dixon in his academic studies on the links between population growth, environmental degradation and global security. It is his ability to delineate those links that makes The Upside of Down such a sobering and stimulating read.” – Toronto Star “Homer-Dixon [is] a magpie of knowledge.” – Times Colonist (Victoria) “Thomas Homer-Dixon . . . has taken off the gloves with humanity. No more talk of what might occur. . . . A crash is inevitable.” – The Globe and Mail “This is an ambitious book. . . . Those familiar with Homer-Dixon’s earlier work . . . will not be surprised by the wide-ranging scope and technical virtuosity of his writing. By any measure, this book is an impressive achievement. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book. . . . for those who want a clear and accessible overview of this catastrophist debate, and one with a Canadian flavour . . . this is a useful place to start.” – The Globe and Mail "For over a decade, Thomas Homer-Dixon has provided that rare thing: a bridge between leading-edge research and the lay reader. Now, addressing the great problems of our time, he points us towards a path forward." –Robert D. Kaplan, senior
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