The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization by Thomas Homer-Dixon

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The Upside of Down sets out a theory of the growth, crisis, and renewal of societies. Today's converging energy, environmental, and political-economic stresses could cause a breakdown of national and global order. Yet there are things we can do now to keep such a breakdown from being catastrophic. And some kinds of breakdown could even open up extraordinary opportunities for creative, bold reform of our societies, if we're prepared to exploit these opportunities when they arise.

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The Author:

Thomas Homer-Dixon holds the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and is a Professor in the Centre for Environment and Business in the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo. His last book, the national bestselling The Ingenuity Gap, won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

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The Buzz:

"Thomas Homer-Dixon [is] one of the best-informed and most brilliant writers on global affairs today."

- Dylan Evans, The Guardian

"Anyone who wants to get serious about the defense of civilization had better read The Upside of Down."

- James Howard Kunstler

"Governments everywhere, from his native Canada to the UK, pay attention to [Homer-Dixon] because the kites he flies are less prone to crashing than most. So his latest book, The Upside of Down, is likely to be read by policy wonks and worried individuals alike. It's a wake-up call for millions feeling overwhelmed by an unrelieved diet of disaster."

- Ehsan Masood, The New Scientist

"An extraordinarily important book."

- Quill & Quire

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Replies to Critics:

In his review of The Upside of Down ("Panarchy and Dystopia." Toronto Globe and Mail, November 11. 2006), Professor Will Kymlicka makes a number of mistakes about the book's argument, and he neglects to mention some of the book's most important ideas. Kymlicka's review and Homer-Dixon's response are a good starting point for a discussion — needed now more urgently than ever — of the strategies we should adopt to survive and even prosper in a volatile future.

Read the Kymlicka review and Homer-Dixon's response ("Beyond Management: How and Why Kymlicka is Wrong").


Facts from the Book:

- In 1950, there were about two poor people for every rich person on Earth; today there are about four; in 2025, there will be nearly six.

- Three large spoonfuls of crude oil contain about the same amount of energy as eight hours of human manual labor. When we fill our car with gas, we're pouring into the tank the energy equivalent of about two years of human manual labor.

- Over the past twenty years, warming of the Arctic ocean has been eight times faster than it was over the past hundred years.

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1 non-fiction bestseller in Canada
Top 100 List, Globe and Mail, 2006
Winner of the 2007 National Business Book Award
Gold Award, Foreword Magazine
A Financial Times Best Book, Politics & Religion, 2007

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