Deep Adaptation

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Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy[1] is a paper on global warming written by sociologist Jem Bendell. It has gained notorious media attention for being "so depressing it sends people to therapy."[2] It posits that the effects of climate change may be so extreme as to lead to civilizational collapse within the next decade, and that instead of downplaying this conclusion, we should embrace it. A central theme is the notion of 3 R's: Resilience, Relinquishment, and Restoration. Resilience to keep things we want to keep, Relinquishment of harmful things, and Restoration of approaches and attitudes that fossil fuel-based civilization eroded such as rewilding ecosystems.

Science (or lack thereof)[edit]

The paper did not pass peer review, a fact that Bendell proudly advertises,[3] and that should instantly send up red flags to anyone expecting a scientifically rigorous article. Indeed, climate scientist Michael Mann simply dismissed it as "crap,"[4] further elaborating that "The concept of "uncontrollable levels of climate change" is both unscientific and nonsensical…"[5] He also relies on questionable sources for his claims, such as his claim that 5°C was already baked in by the current CO2 concentration being cited from an unpublished paper by a self-described "systems analyst",[6] which relies on the clathrate gun hypothesisWikipedia that the scientific community has deemed lacking in evidence.[7] Also, for a paper called "Deep Adaptation," he doesn't cite concrete examples of such adaptation, claiming that civilizational collapse is too complicated and unprecedented a problem, even though there are many real-world case studies of societies adapting to resource collapse.[8][9]


Because Bendell doesn't propose solutions beyond a vague framework of the 3 R's, the paper has become a Rorschach inkblot that readers interpret differently depending on their political background. Many people have accused Bendell of encouraging denialism, inaction,[3] racism, or ecofascism.[10] For what it's worth, he supports and has advised Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn,[11] is an active participant in Extinction Rebellion,[12] and is explicit in identifying patriarchy and capitalism as core problems.[13]

Really, though, he has a retreat in Greece to sell you.[14] And given that he has defended his own extensive flying habits[15] and insists on selling said retreat during a global pandemic in a time when most others have settled on virtual conferencing,[16] "Relinquishment" apparently doesn't apply for important people like himself.

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]