Read the original pdf: Deep Adaptation: a map for navigating the climate tragedy.
Or listen to it:
Dr Jem Bendell is a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK).
An essay on what everyone want to know - How long have we got?
The Deep Adaptation Agenda
2010 marked a change from carbon emission reduction to adaptation to climate change on a global level.
Most notably to the UN.
Typical projects include improving the ability of small-scale farmers to cope with weather variability through the introduction of irrigation and the ability of urban planners to respond to rising sea levels and extreme rainfall events through reengineering drainage systems. There is a focus on resilience. Resilience is the capacity of a system, be it an individual, a forest, a city or an economy, to deal with change and continue to develop. It is about how humans and nature can use shocks and disturbances like a financial crisis or climate change to spur renewal and innovative thinking. The problem comes with an allegiance to development and progress. There needs to be a focus on psychological resilience rather than physical.
The 4 R’s of Deep Adaptation
Resilience: How do we keep what we really want to keep?
Define what cultural norms and behaviors do we want to keep, and which do we discard. Resilience includes developing a new way of thinking after collapse.
What do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse?
Giving up certain assets, behaviors, and beliefs (withdrawing from coastlines, shutting down vulnerable industrial facilities, giving up certain types of consumption).
What can we bring back to help us with the coming difficulties and tragedies? Rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life that were eroded by hydro-carbon society (re-wilding landscapes, so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, changing diets back to match the seasons, rediscovering non-electronically powered forms of play, and increased community-level productivity and support).
What could I make peace with to lessen suffering?
This question incorporates the idea of reconciliation with one’s death, including any difficulties and regrets in one’s life, any anger towards existence itself. It also invites reconciliation between peoples, genders, classes, generations, countries, religions and political persuasions. Otherwise, without this inner deep adaptation to climate collapse, we risk tearing each other apart and dying hellishly. It is time to make our peace. (*This fourth R was not in the original paper. The author has since added it via his blog.)
Summary written by Paul A. Cotter and Christina S. Choate - June 6, 2019
And Jem on - RECONCILIATION
A RADICAL HOPE OF RECONCILIATION
If you, like me, hope that through growing realisation of a coming collapse, more people will awaken to a deeper understanding of themselves and life, and live with love and compassion, then that is not an idle hope. Because it is not prediction. People respond in myriad ways when the shit hits the fan. There will be some horrible reactions. Indeed, there already are. Therefore, a radical hope of humanity awakening is one where we are actively engaged in it.
In my case, that feels like why I am putting out this blog, with my half-baked ideas on the cosmos, God and all that. Because my radical hope is that many more of us will begin to explore together publicly what “spirituality” and love are and can mean today.
To make this more explicit in the Deep Adaptation framework, I now propose a 4th R to the existing ones on Resilience, Relinquishment and Restoration. The original Deep Adaptation paper has been downloaded over 100,000 times. Like Skeena, people have told me it changed their life. What I have noticed is, however, that some people who report being woken up by that paper are now calling for anything to be done to stop collapse. That is, to attempt whatever draconian measures might cut emissions and drawdown carbon. I still think bold cuts and drawdown measures are essential. But that is not the focus of Deep Adaptation, which invites us to prepare for what is now inevitable. Therefore, to make that even more explicit, I propose a fourth question to guide our reflection on how to navigate our climate tragedy:
“What could I make peace with to lessen suffering?”
This question incorporates the idea of Reconciliation with one’s death, including any difficulties and regrets in one’s life, any anger towards existence itself (or God). It also invites reconciliation between peoples, genders, classes, generations, countries, religions and political persuasions. Because it is time to make our peace. Otherwise, without this inner deep adaptation to climate collapse we risk tearing each other apart and dying hellishly. My radical hope is that more of us work together to achieve this reconciliation, in all its forms, as a basis for the fuller deep adaptation agenda that I explain in my paper.
Unless you are a spiritual leader, then a hope for mass awakening and reconciliation does not sound very specific. It may not immediately seem to support straightforward campaign strategies or policy development! If we are to offer a vision where our radical hope of awakening is realised, then what would that look like? From my work as a Professor of Leadership, I know a vision is meant to be tangible, relatable, credible, and relevant to the problems faced. I would really like to see your own ideas on visions in the comments below (but I wont grade them 😉)
To whet your own imaginations, here is one idea…
I envision seeing whole neighbourhoods and camps of people spontaneously singing and dancing together of their pure joy of experiencing all sensations of life, both during and between working together on useful tasks. Not because they are singing from habit, custom, obligation, or recreation, but because they are so connected to the wonder of experiencing life while serving life. I envision people feeling grateful they suddenly found there is time in their lives to sing, dance and connect with nature and each other. I envision this connection also supporting ways of production, sharing, consumption, and caring, that mean people are able to live happily with fewer resources and less certainty.
If that sounds hippy, then so be it. For me it is a highly aspirational, credible and relatable vision, one I can truly hope for and work towards. But please share your own visions below!
In the coming months and years there will be many views emerging on how to achieve change, for both cutting and drawing down emissions, as well as adapting to disruptive impacts of climate change. Some will argue for eco-socialist revolution to take over the key infrastructure, so we have the chance of everyone being fed, watered, housed and cared for as best as possible. Others will seek to harness the powers of the existing system, and turn to transnational corporations, financial institutions and international organisations. Others will continue to hope that elected representatives will be able to suddenly find within themselves the heart and boldness to act and the talent to explain sufficiently to their electorates to remain in power. Others will turn to their neighbours, local associations and local governments, to organise as best they can locally and regionally. I do not yet have a hope or vision in relation to any of those ideas, but welcome people exploring these and other ideas.