Where Did Deep Adaptation Come From

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Jem Bendell is a professor of sustainability and leadership at the University of Cumbria. In July, 2018, he published a paper, Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy. Based on his assessment of all available climate data, he reached a conclusion that Social Collapse is “inevitable” within 10 years, that climate Catastrophe is “probable” in the mid-term and human extinction is “likely.”

His paper received a dramatic response, all the way from highly critical reviews from scientists, social psychologists and others, to viral circulation and positive responses from the general public. Since that moment 18 months ago, over 100,000 people have downloaded the paper and many around the world have quickly become involved or connected in some way to this approach.

A Deep Adaptation Forum emerged in March, 2019, providing 10 different categories of engagement including an active community forum. The principles that drive Bendell’s approach are the 4Rs: Resilience, Relinquishing, Restoration and Reconciliation. In order, he’s talking about saving what we need, restoring what has been lost, letting go of what we don’t need and what needs to be done to reduce conflict as we enter more extreme climate conditions.

The issue of Deep Adaptation has significant personal and collective implications. What needs to be done individually; what needs to be done to build trust and confidence among people who wish to become involved at this level and what needs to be done collectively to address the world that is coming? These are not simple issues to untangle. But there is a vein of rational assessment, emotional clarity, creative potential and spiritual hunger that is being galvanized by this approach. I feel it and I’m in.

What I intend to be doing on this issue is to explore many questions arising around this approach to the climate emergency, finding clarity for myself and offering the same to anyone else who cares. I will also be exploring what needs to be learned, how to craft an accessible and fulfilling approach to Deep Adaptation for those wishing to become more involved and active in their communities.

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