Deep Adaptation

Maddy Harland | Wednesday, 1st December 2021
A collection of visionaries, academics, psychologists and philosophers who examine the probability of collapse and explore how we might develop a radical and transformative agenda for the future.
Author: Jem Bendell & Rupert Read
Publisher: Polity Press
Publication year: 2021
RRP: £14.99

When I first read about Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation work I didn’t want to face the possibility that humanity would not draw back from the brink of climate catastrophe. I wanted to believe we have the solutions on hand and that growing mass consciousness would tip world leaders into acting wisely. Now we are straying towards a catastrophic tempera-ture rise in a matter of a decades. Solar panels, electric cars and agroforestry are evidently not going to take us beyond net zero in time. Yet this book teaches me that facing the scientific evidence is not about a loss of hope. Nor is Deep Adaptation about relishing collapse (no one knows exactly when it will happen), or building higher sea walls and storm drains.

Deep Adaptation is in part about discerning the ‘4 Rs’: 1) Resilience: what we value and what to keep.

2) Relinquishment: what we could let go of so as not to make matters worse. 3) Restoration: what we could bring back to make things better. 4) Reconciliation: With what and whom shall we make peace as we awaken to our common mortality. These questions span the spheres of environment, politics, society, economics, psychology and spirituality. They provide a comforting framework (denial is exhausting).

Bendell and Read gather together visionaries, academics, psychologists and philosophers who examine the probability of collapse and explore how we might develop a radical and transformative agenda for the future. It is a huge subject and Deep Adaptation is only the beginning – it is one in which we expand our thinking and open ourselves to the possibility of a completely new emergent paradigm, as yet unknown. That fills me with curious hope.

Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture Magazine

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