A Year of Deep Adaptation

Jem Bendell’s paper on Deep Adaptation is a year old and has been downloaded half a million times. It attempts to help people come to terms with the inevitable collapse of society— “the uneven ending of our current means of sustenance, shelter, security, pleasure, identity and meaning. Others may prefer the term societal breakdown when referring to the same process.”

Professor Jem Bendell

One year ago this month, our Institute at the University of Cumbria released my paper on Deep Adaptation to our climate tragedy. It has since been downloaded over half a million times, been translated into many languages, inspired Facebook groups (one with over 4000 people), many events, and been credited by commentators and activists as helping the Extinction Rebellion movement. Not bad for what one journalist suggested to me was a “career suicide note.” compendium

Over the past year I have sought to do what I could to channel the shock, anger, fear, despair, and passion of so many people who got in touch with me, into networks of solidarity, contemplation, inquiry and action. That has included the launch of the Deep Adaptation Forum for people who want to work through what this means for their day jobs – or whether to quit. I have also sought to…

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2 Responses to “A Year of Deep Adaptation”

  1. Chris Says:

    Interesting read. I also read a few linked posts, as well. The human response I see overall, is part hopeful (ie: how to adapt to the decline) but also part, spiritual de ja vu. As in, lets build a church by another name – run by the policy of institutions. Beginning with indoctrinating the population, their demise is imminent. What exactly, do we do with that, afterwards?

    History teaches us, the weakest will always be sacrificed to make way for the strongest. Whether it’s a spiritual or academic process behind it. That’s always been the pattern of decline.

    A lot can be done on a personal level before that happens – the hopeful part I mentioned. But when it started branching into areas of policy, like legalising euthenasia, or using cyanid pills – that’s when I begin to question, why would an academic policy, have an interest in promoting the acceptance of people’s demise?

    History teaches us, the answer to that question, has always been about population control. Who gets to live and die – based what’s in the best interests of the institution. While also maintaining majority consent and compliance. If everyone believes it’s just the way it has to be – then everyone goes along with it.

    It reminds me that as much as we believe, we’re taking matters into our own hands – we’re also just as quick to surrender control to higher powers again. Ones which have constantly failed us (ie: institutions). It was good to see the spiritual angle being raised, as a necessity to understanding, how to adapt, though. Along with psychological counselling, if required.

    Just sharing my honest though process – not attempting to put any part of subject matter, down. 🙂


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris. I saw the DA paper as a means of helping people (like me) who are grieving about the loss of everything we’ve known, via climate change, fossil fuel depletion, biodiversity loss and the whole gamut of problems we face. Help on a spiritual leveI, that is. I don’t think it helped me much, as I was already into acceptance mode that nothing can or will be done, because the problems are mostly within the realm of evolved human behaviour and therefore unchangeable. I joined the DA Facebook page but it was initially overwhelmed with posts mainly from people still thinking something can be done and I decided to stop following until it had all calmed down a bit.

      I don’t agree with giving people false hopes as is seen in most media hype about renewable energy….that way very little will get done at all. I liked the way Bendell tells it like it is. You just don’t get that sort of honesty in the mainstream press. I don’t think it’s about “promoting acceptance of people’s demise” as much as getting people to come to terms with reality. In talking to people I don’t come across many who understand the full negative implications of climate change for human survival.

      I think most people will continue to have some sort of hope regardless, and will do whatever they can to reverse the degradation process and that’s good. Ultimately it’s all about adapting….that’s what evolution is about after all.

      Liked by 1 person

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