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Issue 12, November 2022
Welcome to a summary of recent opinion and activity in the field of deep adaptation. This independently-produced, free publication explores collapse risk, readiness, and response. We take a critical perspective on the culture and systems that led to our predicament, and celebrate the solidarity amongst people in response. To unsubscribe, use the link at the end of this email. If you prefer only to receive content from DAF, we recommend subscribing to their blog or events newsletter


Key Publications
Courses and Events
Arts and Culture
News from Deep Adaptation Forum


The COP27 climate conference announcement of a new fund, of unknown quantity, for the loss and damage occurring due to climate chaos, means it might appear that politicians and bureaucrats are finally getting real about how bad the situation is. So could they be catching up with the ‘Deep Adapters’? Unfortunately, no fund will ever be able to recompense the loss and damage that is being suffered - and will be suffered - from the impacts of climate and ecological breakdown. No international currency, bank, or payment system will likely survive the extent of disruption when impacts of global heating really kick in. I am just back from my first and last climate conference, and not only experienced it as an exercise in denial but one that is made impenetrable by the numbers of people and resources maintaining it in myriad ways. Even critics of COP27, and climate policies more generally, have their budgets, wages, skills, and status tied to the story of ultimate salvation from climate chaos. A consequence of this denial is not looking at the root causes of our predicament. Which might also be a reason for the denial. So let’s go there…
In my reflections on the COP, I focused on how nearly everyone publicly avoids discussing how capitalism accelerated the disaster, ruined the response, and looks set to make things even worse from here on. Yet, privately, people admit that both the cause of the problem and the lack of significant response is the ‘power complex’ of professionals, institutions, resources, rules, and cultures that is produced by - and reproduces - capitalist systems. I believe this lack of attention to capitalism is a key issue and challenge for those of us interested in Deep Adaptation - that is, of reducing harm in the face of societal disruption and collapse. Because the ‘power complex’ is beginning to warp humanity’s response in a new era of unfolding disasters. If we aspire to reduce harm, we cannot immediately turn our backs on activism on systemic issues. Instead, it is an open question - what kind of political activism makes sense when we anticipate a collapse of societies in the near term?
For some of us, collapse acceptance will involve resisting the power complex and its increasing harms. Some people rightly identify such work as emotionally painful because it is complex, involves personal risk, and is unlikely to show significant results, especially given the likely short time frame of unfolding civilizational breakdown. However, that emotional difficulty is not a reason not to engage in such efforts. Because tough emotions are inevitable as problems, disruptions, and breakdowns increase in the months and years to come. Instead, we can seek to become more aware of our aversions to burdensome emotions and more capable of allowing them, without them determining our choices. That will help us notice when we might be telling ourselves stories to feel better for a time. For instance, focusing on local impact can feel more rewarding, but that won’t avoid the pain when local successes are washed away in a future wave of environmental disruption or state aggression. Instead, we can find ways of not being attached to a desired outcome and less driven by an aversion to difficult emotions. That will help us in all our decisions, not only those on how to put our time towards positive collective outcomes within a more widely deteriorating situation.
Representatives of those communities that have been suffering most from oppression and destruction, as well as recent climatic changes, are instructive on this matter of resilient activism. They continue to articulate their truth, because it is right to do so, whether or not it will succeed in changing the juggernaut of global capitalist destruction. Solidarity means active engagement with grassroots groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network. At the COP they released a report that challenged both practical and ideological implications of the dominant ecomodernist and capitalist approach on climate adopted by most of the world’s leaders today. It is time for concerned people in privileged positions to grapple with their exacting analyses and avoid any pale imitations.
I know from my essay a year ago, titled “Is Deep Adaptation Adding Up to Much?,” that some people respond negatively to the argument that there is an activist agenda from the starting point of a deeper adaptation to future or present breakdowns. I haven’t seen much political activism emerge yet from current participants in Deep Adaptation networks. Instead, the focus seems to be mostly on emotional support between participants. But guess what? Licking your wounds eventually makes you sick. Many people only find vitality again through working in service of a greater goal. So I believe we will soon see a new wave of post-progress activism from people who no longer believe we can avoid the breakdown of modern societies. Regardless of whether this emerges from groups of people who have found the concept of Deep Adaptation useful, it is going to happen soon. 
As an antidote to the general ignoring or demonising of collapse anticipation by mass media, in this issue of the Deep Adaptation Quarterly we explore how this outlook, ethos, and framework is being taken seriously within academia. In a review commissioned for this issue of the Quarterly, Dorian Cavé looked at the last few years of research papers on the topic. There is a wide range of subject areas that are now citing collapse anticipation or even delving into it. According to Google Scholar, as of late October 2022, the original Deep Adaptation paper was referenced in at least 295 publications, including 138 journal articles, 50 book chapters, 44 books, and 42 research theses. This includes work in urban planning, architecture, philosophy, psychology, political science, sociology, education, arts, and literature. In July 2022, a peer-reviewed journal in the field of ‘architecture and the built environment’ even dedicated an issue to the topic of Deep Adaptation. 
This research reminds us that the breakdown of modern societies touches on all aspects of life. That breadth makes a Quarterly newsletter quite a challenge to put together. I am grateful for the work of Dan Vie on previous issues and the continued work of Jessica Groenendijk. I believe you will find the summaries and links to be of value. Please take a moment to forward this newsletter to a few people you think might benefit from seeing how this agenda is evolving. Thank you!
Professor Jem Bendell
Publisher, Deep Adaptation Quarterly

Beauty and The Beast. By Jessica Groenendijk. 
As a window on the world of collapse, this newsletter reflects on ways to find meaning, and to support the work and healing of others.  

Becoming competent
How do we prepare for a slow but permanent collapse of civilisation? Dave Pollard believes the answer lies in teaching people key soft and hard skills. He offers 10 of each: some he considers important for most people, like critical thinking and conversation, while others may need to be learned by only a few members of each community. These include weaving, bicycle repair, and growing and preserving food.
Pollard is more uncertain about how to create the best conditions for billions of people to adopt these skills. When is the most suitable moment to start the training (certainly, it can’t be “so late that we’re trying to do it in an environment of chaos”), who does the coaching and mentoring, and how do we make it easy and fun?
Cam Fenton, formerly Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and now with, agrees that climate organising needs to readjust to reality: we need firstly to “build movements that have the tangible, hands-on skills to protect their communities in the case of climate disasters, but can also turn around and mobilize those same communities to force the government to act.”
Establishing volunteer networks of organised and trained climate first responders is key, he says. Fenton goes on to propose a three-pillar approach – local preparation, community empowerment, building movements - and offers an example of what this could look like: “organizers need to be training people to treat their community for burns and smoke inhalation during a wildfire. Those same people need to be supported to organize their community to demand more funding and resources for fire prevention in their community. And, that community needs to be part of a national movement that is connecting the dots between worsening wildfires and governments continuing to finance and allow fossil fuel expansion.”
The communitarian spirit will prevail 
Tech elites 'in Patagonia fleeces' are responding to world events, scary headlines, and the endless fascination of their own power by building luxury underground retreats, hiring Navy Seals to protect their electric-fenced compounds against the starving hordes, and otherwise planning to escape the mess of their own making, come hell or high water.
Douglas Rushkoff describes just how far the ultra-rich and privileged are prepared to go to insulate themselves against the misery and moral dilemmas the rest of us will have to endure. “It’s as if they want to build a car that goes fast enough to escape from its own exhaust,” he writes. And there are plenty of others who are eager to cater to these billionaires.
Ultimately, however, no amount of wealth or preparedness will enable the selfish to survive societal collapse. Instead, it’s a “communitarian spirit” that will “ensure there are as few hungry children at the gate as possible”. This is where Deep Adaptation comes in, with its approach of mutual support and collaboration towards reducing harm, upholding values, and finding meaning.
A Martian’s guide to collapse
Otto Scharmer’s Protect the Flame starts as a kind of 101 overview of human collective behaviour in the face of collapse, then relates a rather touching anecdote which reveals the source of the article’s title, and finally explores three macro-systemic transformations that need to happen to “transition from one civilization that is dying, to another one that is being born.” This, he says, requires a profound shift in our relationships with Nature, each other, and our new selves. Plus, “…the single most important leverage point for progressing on our collective journey of transformation is the creation of enabling infrastructures that support leaders, citizens, and communities in transforming their relationship from extractive to regenerative.” Check out, too, the Inner Development Goals towards consciousness-based systems change.
The Geopolitics of Stuff
This roundtable discussed the changing role of governments in a world characterised by converging crisis. Panellists explored recent policy moves towards more direct management of the economy: bans, nationalizations, rationing, windfall taxes, and price controls. Where are these measures well-designed? When are they counterproductive? A recording of the event is here. It was the inaugural presentation of a new project, The Polycrisis, a series focused on the political economy of climate, and its attendant security dilemmas, with an emphasis on Global North/South dynamics.
Scientists, take note!
As Scholars’ Warning signatories can attest, it's emotionally tough to study risks, processes, and scenarios of societal collapse, especially with the positivity-police on our backs. But we must, say a group of professors in this opinion piece. They urge more research into how collapse could unfold and the indirect impacts of climate change on systems such as trade and international cooperation that may reduce the adaptability of communities.
Exploring our dependence on hope
Margaret Wheatley invites us to question our need for hope and to “liberate ourselves from the drug of Hopium.” She believes “we reach for hope as the antidote to despair, but actually hope is the cause of despair.” It is love, she says, that will free us to “contribute meaningfully within our sphere of influence to a person, a community, a local cause.”
Common sense
Deep Adaptation, with its emphasis on resilience and relinquishment, was recently highlighted in the Special report section of the print edition of The Economist (November 5, 2022). Contrary to what some would have us believe, the article muses, adaptation and mitigation are not in competition with each other but should be coordinated in tandem. Furthermore, “less adaptation and more suffering in poor countries will inevitably have consequences in wealthier places.” Food prices could soar, supply chains break, and climate refugees clamour to be let in. More importantly, it is simply not fair for rich countries not to help poor ones adapt – “to relinquish something by choice may be an act of clear-eyed humility; to be deprived of it as the result of what others have done is more akin to being robbed.”

Climate comms urgently need a revamp
“We need to consider what has gone wrong in communicating the reality of the changing climate and what it means to all of us. And then change how we communicate, and fast.” So says Jem Bendell in the first of his two-part essay on The biggest mistakes in climate communications. There have been quite a few. Ultimately, this has meant that people receive information about our changing climate without truly feeling it.
Bendell first explores the problem of focusing on “incomparable averages” - carbon parts per million or global average increments in temperatures without stating any baselines, so that people have no idea about the relative size of the change or what this might mean for them personally. For example, the global average temperature over the period 1850-1900 was 13.8°C. This historical baseline of 13.8°C witnessed highs of over 30°C degrees in many parts of the world at that time. Now, in 2022, with a mere 1.3°C of global warming relative to the historical baseline, maximum temperature events of 40°C were generated in the UK. Imagine, then, what an increase of 3 or 4°C in global average temperature could mean in terms of near-future summer highs?

In Part 2, Bendell discusses another emerging big mistake, our tendency to frame global heating as something we should respond to because it’s fixable (and we can do the fixing), rather than to reduce human suffering. In fact, there is no basis for claiming we can end the currently difficult, or prevent a worsening, situation and well-meaning but overly reticent scientists do wrong to ‘brightside’ the public into believing we can.
David Spratt offers a specific example of how “science and politics collide in science communication,” in which language is used to downplay the unacceptable risks of triggering multiple climate tipping points. Like Bendell, he argues that “When risks are existential, emphasis must be given to understanding the feasible worst-case outcomes.”
Ignoring climate reality, concludes Bendell, “steals precious time from considering what might be done to have a significant chance of reducing harm...” He adds that “an unwarranted positivity adds insult to injury for younger generations who already sense the difficult future they face.” Only with brave, open, and honest climate crisis communication will more people feel the truth of our predicament and act upon it.

How has the concept of Deep Adaptation influenced scholarship?

The Deep Adaptation paper was published by the University of Cumbria in July 2018. In the following 2 years it was downloaded over a million times and inspired the creation of networks of people focused on reducing harm in the face of societal disruption and collapse. To assess the way the concept is spreading and being used in academia, as a reflection of how it might be used in society, the Deep Adaptation Quarterly commissioned Dorian Cavé to conduct a literature review.
As of late October 2022, the DA paper is referenced in at least 295 publications, including 138 journal articles, 49 book chapters, 44 books, 42 theses (incl. BA, MA, and PhD), and 22 other documents. Cavé provides summaries of those papers found to offer a substantive discussion or application of the DA concept.
Edited by John Blewitt, published by the Schumacher Institute, and with contributions from Inez Aponte, Hugh Atkinson, John Blewitt, Jenneth Parker, Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir and Ian Roderick, New Economy, New Systems: Radical Responses to Our Sustainability Crises calls for “a radical re-set of the sustainability agenda to recognise the full extent of the changes needed and their urgency.”

"…China, in just two years, consumed nearly as much cement as the entire US used during the whole of the twentieth century." Locating our interpretation of trends on climate within the broader context of exponential consumption is instructive, if sobering. But Vaclav Smil’s book, How the World Really Works: A Scientist’s Guide to Our Past, Present and Futureis critically reviewed by ecomodernist financier, Iancu Daramus, who seems to have faith in the rapid pace of change and the potential of policy and technology to drive genuine momentum towards a sustainability revolution. Contrast this with the words of a New Scientist reviewer who concludes by saying the book is “intellectually indispensable” and fully delivers on the promise of its title.

It was to be called 'The Old Future is Gone'. But search engine optimization criteria dictated that the book be titled An Inconvenient Apocalypse instead. This is unfortunate, writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, because most people are likely to misinterpret the title and dismiss it as alarmist. Authors Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen use ‘apocalypse’ in its traditional sense, which they paraphrase as “a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden from most people, a coming to clarity.” And this, says Kaminski, is what the book succeeds in doing.

FIRE: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe was written in the wake of Australia’s Black Summer and is a first-hand account by academic and environmental activist, Margi Prideaux, of wildfires that destroyed a globally unprecedented percentage of continental forest biome: 190,000 square kilometres were burned, the lives of 33 people tragically lost, over 3,000 homes destroyed (including the author’s), and more than 100,000 farm animals and 1 billion native animals wiped out. FIRE is a warning that chronicles a community's coming-of-age, as it were, through climate trauma, profound grief, and the realisation of a series of bitter truths, the hardest being that we must adapt. And that we will have to do that on our own.

"Most people, when they find they have a year to live or two years to live, they don’t just become assholes,” Timothy Beal has said, when discussing his book, When Time is Short on whether we would treat the planet better if we assumed that humanity’s time on it is limited. He postulates that while religion has encouraged us to ‘subdue’ the Earth and have ‘dominion’ over other living beings, it may yet remind us of the Bible’s original message of respect for nature and of our duty to alleviate unnecessary suffering as the world collapses around us.  

The Indigenous Environmental Network launched a report at the COP27 climate conference which explained how climate finance is actually a new form of colonialism. It shows that “Financial instruments are an inadequate tool to address climate change. By tying climate change responsibilities to financial institution-based development logic, the expansion of capitalism is ensured. Financial instruments entrench the chase for endless economic growth, which is one of the root causes of climate change.” This is an important reminder that the way the powerful are responding to the climate emergency, as it moves into an age of consequences and disruptions, could make matters worse. This offers people with some time and money on their hands, such as the middle-class West, a chance to combine their inner and local adaptations with global solidarity actions.

Blood gold
A new report by the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB) finds that Indigenous Amazon communities - their health, safety, territories, and cultural integrity –are suffering at the hands of gold miners, many of whom operate illegally. The gold is used in numerous electronic products, including cell phones, computers, and electric cars, and mega corporations such as Apple, Tesla, Samsung, Microsoft, and General Motors are supplied by two refineries under investigation by Brazilian authorities for buying the illegal gold mined on Indigenous lands. 
Major US banks, too, including Blackrock, Vanguard, and JP Morgan Chase, are accused of funding ongoing logging, mining, and infrastructure projects in the Amazon, thereby adding to the misery of Indigenous peoples and the degradation of their home. “These big enterprises are evil to the Indigenous populations,” activists say. “This development doesn’t happen for us – what remains for us is poverty, violence, and abandonment by the state.”


Surviving the Future: The Deeper Dive
Shaun Chamberlin is joined by remarkable guests including Nate Hagens, Vandana Shiva, Rob Hopkins and Tim DeChristopher for this 8-week Sterling College online course. Created and curated for those seeking insights and allies to help themselves and their localities, this is an opportunity to explore responses to profound change as part of a small global community, in direct conversation with some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers. Join the conversation about the dramatic changes facing our families and communities. Limited enrolment, starts Jan 9, 2023.
Postcapitalist Philanthropy
Authors Alnoor Ladha and Lynn Murphy are hosting a webinar series for their book Postcapitalist Philanthropy: Healing Wealth in the Time of Collapse. They will be accompanied by guest speakers including Vandana Shiva, Rupa Marya, Bayo Akomolafe, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Vanessa Andreotti, and will cover a range of topics over the course of five months, including a history of capitalism and the creation of philanthropy; various approaches to understanding and responding to collapse(s); explorations of other ways of knowing, sensing and being; and possible transition pathways towards post capitalist realities. Register via the Zoom RSVP link here.

For more events on Deep Adaptation, view the events calendar of the Deep Adaptation Forum. 

Complete our form to submit details of your own online event or course for consideration in our next DA Quarterly.


Events like COP-27 signal the collective failure to imagine the next steps. Let's inspire with new ways of seeing, open windows to innovation, and reach through to people’s hearts.
No to growth-dependency, yes to the wellbeing economy
Don’t Tell Me to Just Breathe is an animation by Swarm Dynamics, in collaboration with the Centre of Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. From the perspective of a young care sector worker, it explores the role of activist outlooks in maintaining mental health in the face of environmental disruption: “…collective mental health can only be secured by a system that respects the boundaries of people’s wellbeing, and of nature, and where the Future is no longer sacrificed on the altar of eternal economic growth.
Last Day on Earth
If you were told that tomorrow is your Last Day on Earth, how would you spend it? In this moving and award-winning short film by Christian Eisenbarth, an old man not only experiences, but truly lives, his last day.
Out of Ashes
Out of Ashes is written by ecological philosopher, Rupert Read, and the writer/director of climate blockbuster The Age of Stupid, Franny Armstrong. With animation by Martyn Pick, this impactful short film challenges us to face the unravelling of our civilisation head on and to choose a transformational future. If we dare. For more info, check out Moderate Flank, a UK-based incubator “designed to inform, identify, connect, and fund initiatives that are strategically placed to ‘tip’ our complex social system towards climate action.”
Living in the Time of Dying
Last but not least in our quartet of films is Living in The Time of Dying, “an unflinching look at what it means to be living in the midst of climate catastrophe and finding purpose and meaning within it.” Featuring Dahr Jamail, Jem Bendell, Catherine Ingram, and Stan Rushworth.
Today, 30 November, is Remembrance Day for Lost Species
Art by Saba Hajek

The Deep Adaptation Forum is a community which began soon after the publication of Jem Bendell’s ground-breaking paper. They connect all sorts of people, helping them embody and enable loving responses to our predicament, to reduce suffering and save more of society and the natural world.
The following are highlights from DAF Communications Coordinator Cat Jenkins’ recent blog on the DAF website.
DAF Solidarity work
DAF volunteers, through the Diversity and Decolonization Circle, met with the Bidii Yetu community (here on the DA Solidarity page) to investigate how DAF can support their ongoing fundraising efforts. We're not currently running a fundraiser for them directly, but we encourage you to share their details wherever you can. This is an organisation with many values in common with the Forum - facing into collapse, teaching permaculture, and supporting disability access and young people to finish their schooling at the Kakuma Refugee Camp. By sharing video of the group’s work, on Facebook, a big donation towards their internet access came from a DA volunteer's family member. So please consider sharing their work!

Another initiative that DAF members may want to contribute to or share more widely is the African Way Refugees Assistance Project.

Education group news
As most community members will know by now, the DAF Community Space on Ning was retired some weeks ago. It's been replaced by an easier-to-use and more functional discussion space on the DAF Discourse platform. Among other things, there's an Educators Group, and several threads of conversations are already active - including one on eco-education. If you’re collapse aware and involved in the formal or informal (including home schooling) education of children and/or young adults, and would like to share space and conversation with other collapse aware educators, please use this link to join the DAF Educators' group and conversation on Discourse.

Conscious Learning Festival 2022
From October to December, the Conscious Learning Festival has been in full swing. This festival is an invitation: let’s pay closer attention to what changes may be arising, and what learning may be occurring for us, as a result of participating in Deep Adaptation events, groups, and spaces. And let’s just meet and share how we are changing, together. The current phase of the action research project on radical collective change and social learning is drawing to an end and various events on topics ranging from the shape of radical change, to 'unlearning', have already taken place. If you missed these or want to revisit them, recordings of these events are available on the Festival webpage

Dreaming DAF
Where is DAF going? What is it for? Has this changed (and if not, ought it)? The Core Team invests time in reflecting on what's happening within, and outside, DAF, and what that means for its purpose. To that end, we were ably supported by Katie Carr in a process of 'Dreaming DAF' - visioning and envisioning what DAF could become, and stemming from that, what leadership qualities could be a help or hindrance in getting there. It's a never-ending process - adaptation never ends, after all - and gave us some valuable insights. We've continued strategising with other facilitators and some interesting/challenging ideas are surfacing.

In addition, we've been looking at the types of alliances and relationships we have with other organisations - after all, you're only as strong as your network of support. In some cases, we share community members with those organisations; in others, there are complementary skillsets and interests. There's a discussion on the subject underway on the Community Discussion space, where members are welcome to share information and contacts.
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