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, 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for his claims, such as his claim that 5°C was already baked in by the current CO2 concentration being cited from an unpublished paper by a self-described "systems analyst",[6] which relies on the clathrate gun hypothesisWikipedia's W.svg that the scientific community has deemed lacking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]

See also[edit]