- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Canada (2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0676977235
- ISBN-13: 978-0676977233
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,101,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization Paperback – 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Population stress (megacities; differing rich/poor growth rates)
Energy stress (especially from scarcity of oil)
Environmental stress (land, water, forests, fisheries)
Climate stress (atmosphere)
Economic stress (instability; widening income gaps)
None of this is surprising, having been identified elsewhere in the literature at least as far back as the 1972 study "Limits to Growth" by the Club of Rome. But the author eloquently lays out the scenarios, makes historical analogies, and explains the interplay between the stresses in language that concerned citizens, and even policy-makers, can understand. This in itself is a great service to the reader.
Like Kennedy, Homer-Dixon will be criticized for not sufficiently addressing solutions to these problems. Indeed, the "upside" in his title doesn't really manifest itself until about the last 50 pages of the book, and some readers may find what's offered to be inadequate. His solutions should be common sense (which can be uncommon in complex societies): design for resilience, be prepared to make the best of change. His belief that endless economic growth is overrated and even detrimental will not please everyone. And part of his argument is that collapse is probably inevitable, so we should strive to emerge from the disaster as good or better than we were before.Read more ›
The book is rich with new ideas, on practically every page. I do wish the author had given us more on how "open-source" architectures on the Internet could be the basis for new forms of democracy, and for mobilization of non-extremists, but clearly he's just beginning to work through these ideas.
If you want to know about the role of energy scarcity in the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the sources of modern capitalism's unchallengeable obsession with economic growth, the causes of people's widespread denial of our global crisis, the relationship between rising complexity and social breakdown, or the real story on global income inequality - the list of subjects covered goes on and on - this book is unmatched. But don't expect that it won't challenge some of your preconceptions. The book is definitely not for intellectual sissies, nor for people whose minds are already made up.
In this latest book, Homer-Dixon again considers global environmental crises and seeks to draw historical comparisons with Rome, the San Francisco Earthquake and other catastrophic events to understand the resilience of human societies. In some ways the title is reminiscent of the Taoist refrain that was frequently heralded after 9/11, that "disaster and opportunity have the same symbol." (In Chinese characters they are depicted by the same symbol as well).
Similar in cadence to Jared Diamond's book "Collapse," the book attempts to cover a wide range of fields and genres of literature. However, many of the ideas presented here have appeared elsewhere. For example, the analogy of plate tectonics that Homer-Dixon uses is similar to Lester Thurow's usage of the analogy in his book "The Future of Capitalism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book would be just the beginning in understanding why our status quo is crumbling, to understand more though check out this book:... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Interesting career memoir of an entrepreneur and former Greenpeace leader, that helps provide a sense of what's at stake in climate change, and how diverse are the contributors and... Read morePublished 10 months ago by A. R. Masters
This book is a very good introduction to vulnerabilities of our complex society. There are many challenges ahead of us from peak oil to climate change. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Aki Suokko
Very readable. Threaded throughout is an energy return on energy invested (or EROI) analysis of the Roman Empire. Fascinating. Read morePublished on May 17, 2014 by Eric Zencey
If you want to rehash what has been in the press for the last several decades., feel free to read this book. Read morePublished on April 2, 2014 by James
Homer-Dixon does an outstanding job of outlining the many major problems our society faces. Yes, the book was published in 2006, but because it is so "big picture," the... Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by Dr.J