March 23, 2007
Urbi et Orbi
There's always been the sandwich-board crowd, telling us to repent as the end of the world is upon us. Beyond them, my sense is that human beings tend to have a deep-seated fear of planetary scale catastrophe (indeed, I'd love to find a good history of catastrophe thinking); why, I don't know. But we do now seem to have arrived at something new: a humanity induced set of simultaneous crises that is on the verge of critically stressing civilization. Since I've picked up this theme in bits and pieces in many conversations thus far, I thought it would be useful and interesting to talk with somebody who's done outstanding work in putting the big picture together. Thomas Homer-Dixon is a respectable, intelligent fellow, and though he speaks about impending catastrophe in a low-key way the message gets through loud and clear: there's going to be serious cleaning up to do. Which is more or less the point of his latest book, The Upside of Down. Total runtime here of an hour and five minutes. Listen carefully. Think!