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The Upside of Down

The Upside of Down

Metadata

Highlights

  • All this turbulence makes it seem as if nothing is dependable. Shocks and surprises seem to rush toward us faster than ever before. (Location 57)
  • Our societies are also becoming steadily more complex and often more rigid. (Location 84)
  • too-catastrophe could create a space for creativity that helps us build a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves. (Location 92)
  • population stress arising from differences in the population growth rates between rich and poor societies, and from the spiraling growth of megacities in poor countries; (Location 140)
  • energy stress-above all from the increasing scarcity of conventional oil; (Location 141)
  • environmental stress from worsening damage to our land, water, forests, and fisheries; (Location 141)
  • climate stress from changes in the makeup of our atmosphere; (Location 142)
  • economic stress resulting from instabilities in the global economic system and ever-widening income gaps between rich and poor people! (Location 142)
  • we can't ignore nature any longer, because it affects every aspect of our well-being and even determines our survival.' (Location 146)
  • The first multiplier is the rising speed and global connectivity of our activities, technologies, and societies. The second is the escalating power of small groups to destroy things and people. (Location 162)
  • Greater connectivity and speed are especially worrisome in light of the spread of "lethal technologies" that have sharply raised the destructive power of angry and violent people. (Location 177)
  • The stresses and multipliers are a lethal mixture that sharply boosts the risk of collapse of the political, social, and economic order in individual countries and globally-an outcome I call synchronous failure. This would be destructive-not creative-catastrophe. (Location 188)
  • We shouldn't be surprised by surprise. (Location 206)
  • We typically respond to unfolding threats with a two-stage strategy: first denial, then reluctant management. (Location 213)
  • catagenesis, a word that combines the prefix cata, which means "down" in ancient Greek, with the root genesis, which means "birth." (Location 256)
  • Complex systems, on the other hand, have properties and behaviors that can't be attributed to any particular part but only to the system as a whole. (Location 270)
  • complex systems adapt to their changing environment by going through a four-stage cycle of growth, breakdown, reorganization, and renewal (the last three of these stages are what I call catagenesis).'z (Location 276)
  • breakdown must be constrained-just as the great San Francisco fire was constrained when it was stopped at Van Ness Avenue-for catagenesis to happen." (Location 278)
  • Outwardly, everything seems to be normal: the systemdoesn't generate any surprises. At some point, though, the behavior of the whole system suddenly shifts to a radically new mode. This kind of behavior is often called a threshold effect, because the shift occurs when a critical threshold-usually unseen and often unexpected-is crossed. (Location 294)
  • We need, instead, to adopt an attitude toward the world, ourselves within it, and our future that's grounded in the knowledge that constant change and surprise are now inevitable. The new attitude-which involves having a prospective mind-aggressively engages with this new world of uncertainty and risk. A prospective mind recognizes how little we understand, and how we control even less. (Location 346)
  • The prospective mind then looks for ways to prevent or forestall horrible outcomes, not just through managing things-an approach that's often ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive-but also by imagining and implementing more radical and far-reaching solutions. (Location 356)
  • The principle that a system's entropy must always increase, scientists eventually realized, applies only when its boundaries are defined to encompass virtually all its interactions with its surrounding environment. (Location 472)
  • But maintaining this order is a bit like holding a marble on the side of a bowl with your finger: the marble wants to sit at the bottom of the bowl-that's its equilibrium point; so holding the marble on the side takes a constant input of energy. (Location 480)
  • Without constant inputs of high-quality energy, complex societies aren't resilient to external shock. (Location 623)
  • the empire's decline was accompanied by a precipitous drop in the population of its cities. "The collapse of urban life [occurred] from one end of the Mediterranean to the other," writes the archaeologist David Whitehouse, citing recent findings from excavations. "The five most important cities of late antiquity-Rome, Carthage, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria-all contracted; indeed, Carthage and Antiochvirtually ceased to exist."3 (Location 656)
  • Their numbers keep wages for these jobs depressed, which has long helped Europe's economy grow with low inflation, and they underwrite the enviably short workweeks and long vacations enjoyed by the continent's middle class. (Location 773)
  • Say two experts on the subject,"Young men-out of school, out of work and charged with hatred-are the lifeblood of deadly conflict."54 (Location 837)
  • the mid-1950s, M. King Hubbert, a research geologist with Shell Oil, showed that we can roughly predict the trend of output from a specific geographic region. If unrestricted oil extraction occurs, the volume of oil pulled out of the ground tends to follow a bell curve-production starts slowly at first, builds to a peak, and then falls at about the same rate it climbed. The maximum output-represented by the curve's peak-occurs when about half the oil in the ground has been extracted. (Location 961)
  • discovered prior to 1980, including the 4 largest, which together produce nearly 12 percent of global conventional (Location 1022)
  • Seismologists call this phenomenon "stress triggering," and we can see something similar in social systems: a disturbance in one part of an economy or society can dramatically-and often unexpectedly-increase stress in other parts, leading to cascades of economic or social change. (Location 1185)
  • foreshocks are fascinating, because if seismologists could better understand them, they might be able to warn people to move to safer ground, evacuate vulnerable buildings, or store extra supplies against the devastation that could follow. (Location 1197)

public: true

title: The Upside of Down longtitle: The Upside of Down author: Thomas Homer-Dixon url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2018-11-16 type: books tags:

The Upside of Down

rw-book-cover

Metadata

Highlights

  • All this turbulence makes it seem as if nothing is dependable. Shocks and surprises seem to rush toward us faster than ever before. (Location 57)
  • Our societies are also becoming steadily more complex and often more rigid. (Location 84)
  • too-catastrophe could create a space for creativity that helps us build a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves. (Location 92)
  • population stress arising from differences in the population growth rates between rich and poor societies, and from the spiraling growth of megacities in poor countries; (Location 140)
  • energy stress-above all from the increasing scarcity of conventional oil; (Location 141)
  • environmental stress from worsening damage to our land, water, forests, and fisheries; (Location 141)
  • climate stress from changes in the makeup of our atmosphere; (Location 142)
  • economic stress resulting from instabilities in the global economic system and ever-widening income gaps between rich and poor people! (Location 142)
  • we can't ignore nature any longer, because it affects every aspect of our well-being and even determines our survival.' (Location 146)
  • The first multiplier is the rising speed and global connectivity of our activities, technologies, and societies. The second is the escalating power of small groups to destroy things and people. (Location 162)
  • Greater connectivity and speed are especially worrisome in light of the spread of "lethal technologies" that have sharply raised the destructive power of angry and violent people. (Location 177)
  • The stresses and multipliers are a lethal mixture that sharply boosts the risk of collapse of the political, social, and economic order in individual countries and globally-an outcome I call synchronous failure. This would be destructive-not creative-catastrophe. (Location 188)
  • We shouldn't be surprised by surprise. (Location 206)
  • We typically respond to unfolding threats with a two-stage strategy: first denial, then reluctant management. (Location 213)
  • catagenesis, a word that combines the prefix cata, which means "down" in ancient Greek, with the root genesis, which means "birth." (Location 256)
  • Complex systems, on the other hand, have properties and behaviors that can't be attributed to any particular part but only to the system as a whole. (Location 270)
  • complex systems adapt to their changing environment by going through a four-stage cycle of growth, breakdown, reorganization, and renewal (the last three of these stages are what I call catagenesis).'z (Location 276)
  • breakdown must be constrained-just as the great San Francisco fire was constrained when it was stopped at Van Ness Avenue-for catagenesis to happen." (Location 278)
  • Outwardly, everything seems to be normal: the systemdoesn't generate any surprises. At some point, though, the behavior of the whole system suddenly shifts to a radically new mode. This kind of behavior is often called a threshold effect, because the shift occurs when a critical threshold-usually unseen and often unexpected-is crossed. (Location 294)
  • We need, instead, to adopt an attitude toward the world, ourselves within it, and our future that's grounded in the knowledge that constant change and surprise are now inevitable. The new attitude-which involves having a prospective mind-aggressively engages with this new world of uncertainty and risk. A prospective mind recognizes how little we understand, and how we control even less. (Location 346)
  • The prospective mind then looks for ways to prevent or forestall horrible outcomes, not just through managing things-an approach that's often ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive-but also by imagining and implementing more radical and far-reaching solutions. (Location 356)
  • The principle that a system's entropy must always increase, scientists eventually realized, applies only when its boundaries are defined to encompass virtually all its interactions with its surrounding environment. (Location 472)
  • But maintaining this order is a bit like holding a marble on the side of a bowl with your finger: the marble wants to sit at the bottom of the bowl-that's its equilibrium point; so holding the marble on the side takes a constant input of energy. (Location 480)
  • Without constant inputs of high-quality energy, complex societies aren't resilient to external shock. (Location 623)
  • the empire's decline was accompanied by a precipitous drop in the population of its cities. "The collapse of urban life [occurred] from one end of the Mediterranean to the other," writes the archaeologist David Whitehouse, citing recent findings from excavations. "The five most important cities of late antiquity-Rome, Carthage, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria-all contracted; indeed, Carthage and Antiochvirtually ceased to exist."3 (Location 656)
  • Their numbers keep wages for these jobs depressed, which has long helped Europe's economy grow with low inflation, and they underwrite the enviably short workweeks and long vacations enjoyed by the continent's middle class. (Location 773)
  • Say two experts on the subject,"Young men-out of school, out of work and charged with hatred-are the lifeblood of deadly conflict."54 (Location 837)
  • the mid-1950s, M. King Hubbert, a research geologist with Shell Oil, showed that we can roughly predict the trend of output from a specific geographic region. If unrestricted oil extraction occurs, the volume of oil pulled out of the ground tends to follow a bell curve-production starts slowly at first, builds to a peak, and then falls at about the same rate it climbed. The maximum output-represented by the curve's peak-occurs when about half the oil in the ground has been extracted. (Location 961)
  • discovered prior to 1980, including the 4 largest, which together produce nearly 12 percent of global conventional (Location 1022)
  • Seismologists call this phenomenon "stress triggering," and we can see something similar in social systems: a disturbance in one part of an economy or society can dramatically-and often unexpectedly-increase stress in other parts, leading to cascades of economic or social change. (Location 1185)
  • foreshocks are fascinating, because if seismologists could better understand them, they might be able to warn people to move to safer ground, evacuate vulnerable buildings, or store extra supplies against the devastation that could follow. (Location 1197)