Over the last few months, several authoritative voices have started telling us that the outlook on climate change is a lot worse than most published forecasts suggest, and that we urgently need to understand the implications.
The most useful of these voices in my view is Professor Jem Bendell. Whilst he strongly supports all efforts to reduce climate change, he cites extensive recent scientific evidence that it may well be too late: numerous adverse trends are already growing exponentially.
Jem uses the term Deep Adaptation as a focus for looking hard at the likely adversities of the coming years: I agree with this view that we need to find responses which go well beyond resilience in the way it is mostly understood.
He highlights three aspects to Deep Adaptation:
- Resilience:in a full sense, including how to handle deep emotions such as fear and grief.
- Relinquishment: This “involves people and communities letting go of certain assets behavioursand beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawingfrom coastlines… or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption”.
- Restoration:This “involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that our hydrocarbon-fuelledcivilisationeroded.”
The quotesabove are from a long paper by Jem Bendell, reviewing the climate change outlook and an outline of Deep Adaptation (pages 18 onwards). I highly recommend reading it: PDF download link to the paper
One of the many things I value in Jem’s approach is thathe acknowledges the deep emotional and spiritual impacts of facing a bleak outlook, and points to ways to process these impacts, including faith, and “a vision of people sharing compassion, love and play.” He also recognisesthat many who have worked hard for sustainability over many years may have to face a crisisover self-worth and identity. And he sees upsides and potential in what is likely to be a period of major, painful change.
You can see his responses to some of the frequent questions about the implications of Deep Adaptation at his blog here:
I believe it is the same view of rapidly worsening climate change which has led to another recent initiative: Extinction Rebellion. The aim is to use peaceful mass protest to get more meaningful action from Government. You can see their website here. I support their aims, but I am concerned that people believeER is enough, without recognising the urgent need for Deep Adaptation too. You can see more at Jem’s new website www.deepadaptation.info and join the discussion on Facebook. www.facebook.com/groups/deepadaptation
Another voice in this field is Rupert Read, who is a leading member of the Green Party; and works with the Green House ThinkTank. The video on YouTube of his talk to students at Cambridge University will give you a good overview of the climate change outlook, and his take on Deep Adaptation and where the crisis will manifest first: LINK TO VIDEO.
If you want to learn more about the predictions on climate collapse, a relatively accessible website is: www.arctic-news.blogspot.com
For me, all of the above adds value and urgency to the pilot programmes planned for Spring-Summer 2019 by the Future Conversations project I am directing: see more here. My work on resilience since 2012 has shown me the need for a bigger response, and Deep Adaptation could be just that.