This document displays the annotations made by Professor Bendell on the essay published by Open Democracy on July 14th that critiqued Deep Adaptation.
The original article was on Open Democracy.
The annotations themselves are on this Google document.
Type 8: The term 'doomism' here is an undefined pejorative label. The concept, framework and community of Deep Adaptation is a creative response to various levels of collapse anticipation. A collapse of industrial consumer societies would not represent 'doom' for those hundreds of millions of people who suffer from the current global system. Some people who anticipate societal collapse may call themselves 'doomer' but not many in the DA field do that. Negative 'name calling' can lead people to dismiss the people and ideas being labelled in that way and therefore not inquire further. I recommend learning from the fields of cognitive linguistics and critical discourse analysis to understand this issue of framing better. Fairclough, Norman (2014). Language and Power (3rd edition). London: Longman. Lakoff, G. (2002). Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press
Deep Adaptation consistently cherry-picks data, cites false experts, puts forward logical fallacies, and disregards robust scientific consensus
Type 5: Each of these claims I will examine below
Bendell defends himself by offering
Type 4: The use of the concept of defence projects a particular intention onto the object of projection (me), and invites the reader to see this as a matter of intellectual combat - a struggle against what is wrong or bad. This is reflective of an ideology which I recommend we reconsider. I recommend reading philosophers on these matters, such as Rorty. Rorty, R. (1989) Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
offering unsupported reasons for activists and the public to distrust mainstream climate science
Type 6: There is much published work to question the mainstream science as represented by the IPCC, prior to July 2018. I cite that in my writings, and therefore it is not "unsupported". I recommend you read the following for summaries of some of the criticisms: Spratt, D., & Dunlop, I. (2018) "What lies beneath: The Understatement Of Existential Climate Risk" National Centre for Climate Restoration. Available from https://www.breakthroughonline.org.au Salvador Herrando-Pérez, Corey J A Bradshaw, Stephan Lewandowsky, David R Vieites. Statistical Language Backs Conservatism in Climate-Change Assessments. BioScience, 2019; 69 (3): 209 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320102010.htm
Deep Adaptation mimics the practices that deniers of global warming have wielded for decades.
Type 7: This is a statement about intent - to mimic is to copy. It therefore implies I have copying the discursive practices of deniers of climate change to produce the DA paper and other writings. I have been an advocate of radical action on cutting carbon for decades and remain so, and have said that in the paper and elsewhere, as well as working on practical projects to do so. That is also why I have helped XR. These quotes from the original DA paper were straightforward: "To support the maintenance and scaling of these efforts [on mitigation] is essential." "As the point of no return can’t be fully known until after the event, ambitious work on reducing carbon emissions and extracting more from the air (naturally and synthetically) is more critical than ever."
fatal verdict handed down by Deep Adaptation
Type 5: What does fatal mean? For modern industrial society? If so, yes, that is what the paper concludes. But this is not clear here in this comment. There are fatal implications of climate change for people right now, and increasingly so. The use of the term verdict is to imply I have power and responsibility in the process of the awful situation. It serves to switch 'blame' for the situation onto the describer of the situation. Speaking of 'verdicts' uses an oppositional and judgemental frame, not conducive to dialogue on sense-making. As such it is a patriarchal framing for learning, which is part of the culture I wish we can stop reproducing so enthusiastically. I recommend reading some feminist philosophy. For instance: Doucet, A., & Mauthner, N. (2006). Feminist methodologies and epistemology. Handbook of 21st Century Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 36-45.
with the potential to cripple us as a movement
Type 8: This is an unsubstantiated claim about implications of a perspective, rather than its validity, yet with lots of evidence and theory to the contrary, which I will explain below.
Deep Adaptation backs away from questions of equity and distribution in the face of disaster
Type 8: The DA field, community and movement is becoming active on matters of equity and distribution in the face of disaster. The original paper could not cover every issue and was intended for a management studies audience, as it makes clear. My background is in international development work, and I have encouraged more work on that in the context of DA, in various ways. I recommend avoiding the pitfall of tokenism on these issues, and serious attention to what can alleviate suffering at scale. https://jembendell.com/2019/11/05/will-we-care-enough-to-matter-to-them-climate-justice-solidarity-and-deep-adaptation/
Deep Adaptation’s core premise [is] that near-term societal collapse due to climate change is inevitable.
Type 8: The DA agenda, framework and community does not require that people think societal collapse is inevitable. Instead, that is my personal view. The DA agenda is far wider than either this original paper or my personal view (which remains that a collapse is inevitable). The best summary of the DA agenda is from over a year ago, and explains it does not involve believing collapse is inevitable. https://jembendell.com/2019/03/17/the-love-in-deep-adaptation-a-philosophy-for-the-forum/ However, I accept that in the original paper, I mention this about the agenda: "it is premised on the view that societal collapse is now likely, inevitable or already unfolding." I have changed that in the 2nd edition.
This false belief... could lead to harmful political decisions, overwhelming grief, and fading resolve for decisive action.
Type 8: The evidence from both theory and analysis of people engaged in DA is currently the opposite of these statements, as I will describe below.
Deep Adaptation is just one prominent case of a stubborn class of doomist narratives
Type 8: Labelling it in this way means one is not looking at what is happening within the world or within the DA field. Talking about histories of millenarianism is also a way of ignoring the science and current observational data. I cited this in my 2018 article "Barriers to Dialogue on Deep Adaptation" Rather, as this possibility is so huge your lives, I recommend assessing the widest scholarship on 'collapsology' and concluding on that basis, rather than avoiding that by categorising it as something negative. https://jembendell.com/2018/08/20/barriers-to-dialogue-on-deep-adaptation/
it was first published as a blog post
Type 7: It was published as an Occasional Paper by the Institute at the University of Cumbria. To release academic ideas in this way is a normal complementary mode of publishing to peer reviewed journals.
[Bendell] has spoken for the movement many other times
Type 7: I have spoken at an Extinction Rebellion event once, and never for the movement. I have never been a spokesperson. I spoke at the launch of the international rebellion in April 2019. In that speech I do not discuss Deep Adaptation. I focus on a message of acting to cut carbon without fairy tales of fixing the climate. I invite deeper critique of why we got into this predicament (I identify patriarchy as a key problem). Afterwards, I was asked to go on Channel 4 news and I declined, as my own views are not the same as the message XR has been putting out until now. The speech is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtMteGAyQJM
Where does [Deep Adaptation] get its significant and lasting support base?
Interesting to note here the suggestion of a significant support base, and yet there is no evidence in this paper of having looked at the diversity of views and initiatives that are occurring within the DA field (i.e. that support base?) that would counter many of the claims of it not being helpful to the environmental movement.
Deep Adaptation also correctly identifies many of the ideological barriers that have stymied environmental protection so far
Type 2: I have gone a lot further on this matter than in the DA paper, which wasn't a venue for deep critique of ideology. I recommend going deeper into the ideologies of science, academia and western modernity, to consider the extent to which these have both brought us to crisis and will mean we make matters worse now. https://jembendell.com/2020/06/28/the-collapse-of-ideology-and-the-end-of-escape/
we need to brace for serious impacts from climate change
Type 2: This statement seems to conflict with the author's argument that DA is not inviting of discussion and action on humanitarian action and global justice.
Deep Adaptation maintains strong support from a small and committed community
Type 3: Yes, we are a small community. As we are small, then how can one say DA has subverted the success of XR?
Deep Adaptation as something akin to a spiritual movement, while also sheltering online groups like the “Positive Deep Adaptation” Facebook page from dissenting views. (The page discourages any discussion of climate change mitigation.)
Type 7: We do not shelter participants from "dissent". We do not welcome discussion of climate science or collapse science, whether it is arguing for human extinction or a successful transition or right wing denial. The group is not about the science nor about mitigation. Just as many climate mitigation groups don't want posts all about adaptation. That is not sheltering nor is it against dissent. It is a small space in the online vastness that is for people to discuss what to do about their own form of collapse anticipation. To criticise the curation of a private space for people to discuss what they wish to focus on, without any harm to others, and with open access, is a problematic viewpoint given our basic rights of expression and association.
Supporters of Deep Adaptation often claim that understanding social collapse requires a holistic understanding of physical science, economics, culture, food systems, and so forth. Bendell himself has argued that opinions about the effects of climate change on human society “are not climate science,” and we agree
Type 3: I agree. I note that the OD essay linked to the blog where this quote comes from. Therefore the authors have had access to a wide range of writings which show the DA field is not limited to the original paper. It is unfortunate that a more accurate representation of the field was used upon which to critique it. https://jembendell.com/2020/02/27/the-worst-argument-to-try-to-win-response-to-criticism-of-the-climate-science-in-deep-adaptation/
Deep Adaptation rests entirely on a climate-science-based argument
Type 7: The paper did not summarise the complex economic, social and political systems that lead to collapse, but that does not mean that the field of collapse-anticipation has not done that. The field is huge now. For instance, see the new book 'How Everything Can Collapse' (Servigne P. & Stevens, R., 2020). What is important for this topic is to try to understand where we are at as humanity, which means drawing upon all that is available, rather than choosing one paper for critique. If you are reading this, welcome to the field of collapsology and don't stop now.
Deep Adaptation’s argument depends on two particular feedback loops: Arctic ice melt and methane release from permafrost.
Type 5: "A specific criticism involves a misrepresentation of the arguments in the original Deep Adaptation paper" I do not say in the paper that my view of inevitable societal collapse is due to these two processes. Instead, it is the essay authors' choice to focus on that. There are weakness in the paper for a) not defining collapse b) not explaining my understanding of complex human systems and why changes can't occur fast enough to give a chance of escaping dangerous climate change. But to reduce the argument to these two processes is a mistake, just as it would be to reduce the impact on society to one factor like agriculture.
Bendell’s argument that societal collapse is now inevitable, and thus the basis for the Deep Adaptation philosophy...
Type 8: The DA philosophy has never required a belief in inevitable societal collapse. In many writings since the DA paper, and in the various platforms of the DA Forum, it is clear that people may believe societal collapse to be likely, inevitable or already unfolding. The authors have already stated they know the field is not just about one person, so that person's view on inevitability is not DA.
it is not, as Bendell claims, a near-term existential threat.
Type 5: No where in the DA paper do I say that Arctic ice loss in itself represents a threat to the existence of the human race (which is what is implied by "existential threat"). However, it is a massive issue worthy of detailed consideration, as in the following annotations.
summary of the relevant research explained by Dr. David Armstrong McKay,
Type 6: This is using a blog to back up the truth claim. That blog's self-appointed attempt to impose its version of truth on other people is reflected in the framing that this opinion in a blog is a "Fact-Check Verdict". Why would a scientist seek to simplify messaging in such an unscientific way? If the aspiration is to become part of the Facebook fact checking machine, then the choice of framing would be helpful for this blogger. That would mean this subjective opinion is seeking to control, not just contribute to, discussion of climate change on Facebook. Many scientists are not trained in cognitive linguistics, framing, narrative, discourse, and how that shapes the way they perceive, feel, think, analyse and communicate. In the next comment I will show how this means unconscious bias problematically shapes their contributions. I refer readers to the earlier references on Fairclough, Lakoff, and Rorty for introductions to these fields.
Dr. David Armstrong McKay, a postdoctoral researcher on climate tipping points, shows
Type 6: The tipping points blog from McKay says: "Claim: A summer ice-free Arctic (called by some the “Blue Ocean Event”) will happen within the next few years and will cause an abrupt worsening of climate change and possible runaway feedbacks." Reality: A summer ice-free Arctic will probably happen within the next few decades, but the exact year will depend on unpredictable natural variability. A summer ice-free Arctic would worsen regional warming and impacts, but would not cause a big or sudden increase in global temperatures." Let's look closer at that "verdict". "probably happen within the next few decades" - that could also be within this decade. Some published studies say 2030. Why is the author wanting to dismiss the possibility it could happen in the 2020s, when the author states that things can't be clearly predicted? "the exact year will depend on unpredictable natural variability." - everyone knows that, so this is an irrelevant focus for this blog and this headline, which is instead being stated as a device to imply the author is more nuanced and therefore wiser. Yet wisdom involves relevance and significance,. "A summer ice-free Arctic would worsen regional warming and impacts" - this is widely known and "regional" includes the jet streams which then impact the majority of weather in the key northern hemisphere agricultural zones "would not cause a big or sudden increase in global temperatures." - the emphasis on solo cause is unhelpful, as it would contribute to global warming at a global level over time. The concepts of "big" and "sudden" are subjective, whereas the importance is if the warming is disruptive. If the spreading out of warming from Arctic to elsewhere is slower, then it may disrupt jet streams more than if the warming spread out faster. So the relevance and significance of this statement is doubtful.
author’s tendency to dismiss the work of hundreds of scientists based on one person’s estimates
Type 5: In the discussion of sea ice loss and implications I also cite: (Aaron-Morrison et al, 2017) (Watts, 2018) (Kahn, 2017) (NASA, 2018) (JPL/PO.DAAC, 2018) (Pistone et al, 2014). The summary of the science suggests that this amount of excess warming would only occur if the Arctic became ice-free all year round, and not just in the summer.
Type 1: This is indeed mistake in the text and corrected with a small edit. However, this mistake does not distract from how once there is one ice free summer then it is more likely to repeat and repeat over time until there is no ice all year round.
an ice-free summer won’t happen as soon as it claims
Type 5: When do I claim it will happen?I re-read the paper to check and found that I don't claim a date that it will happen.
When do I claim it will happen?I re-read the paper to check and found that I don't claim a date that it will happen.
So, to summarise the recent information, which this essay did not...
The earliest ice-free Arctic summer year (FIASY) in one model "is projected to occur in year 2023," a statement the authors warn "may not be realistic" (Peng et al, 2020). Combining projections for some models there is a "distinct peak at 2034" with the earliest possible year being 2030. Another study that considers regular variabilities in the Pacific Ocean suggests the earliest date could be 2030 (Screen and Deser, 2019). This contrasts with the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC-AR4, 2007) multi model assessment, which predicted a 50% reduction of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean by the end of this century (as reported at https://nps.edu/web/rasm ). Given the wide range of projections from models, it is helpful to look at how individual models are doing in real time. One model from the US Naval Postgraduate School appears reasonably accurate for recent predictions, and can be observed in real time here: https://nps.edu/web/rasm/predictions
Peng, G. et al (2020) What Do Global Climate Models Tell Us about Future Arctic Sea Ice Coverage Changes? Climate 2020, 8, 15.https://www.mdpi.com/2225-1154/8/1/15
Screen, J. A. and C. Deser (2019) Pacific Ocean Variability Influences the Time of Emergence of a Seasonally Ice‐Free Arctic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2018GL081393
one might excuse Bendell’s reliance Bendell’s reliance on this single source
Type 6: As mentioned above, I cite 7 other sources about the Arctic situation. However, on the issue of heating implications I rely on Wadhams. As a leading climate scientist, Wadham's work naturally cites many sources, not only his own data and calculations. This critique also cites one source on this matter - someone with vastly less experience than Professor Wadhams and writing on a blog of his own i.e. self published "verdicts".
and then seemingly implies that we should trust that prediction because it goes against the consensus
Type 6: In the paper I do not say we trust Professor Wadhams because it is against consensus. True, I did not enquire much further because he is a University of Cambridge Professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. Unless the UK is collapsing faster than I predicted, I believe that Cambridge is still one of the world's leading research institutions (thought I may be a bit biased about my alma mater). However, I am open to looking at other views on total warming effects. I recommend avoiding reliance on one blog, however.
it aligns Deep Adaptation with fringe conspiracy theorists, who seek out single extreme views,
Type 6: A the last person mentioned before making this claim is Professor Wadhams, the authors risk the reader thinking they are comparing him to fringe conspiracy theorists with extreme views. That could be regarded by some as not only misleading but also insulting and even libellous of Peter. I am surprised that the many senior academics that are cited as reviewing this essay, as well as the editor of OD, did not provide better safeguarding for the young scholars who drafted this essay. It would be valuable to retract this statement.
The first summer without sea ice is now predicted to occur before 2050 in all emissions scenarios, but this, and its effect on warming, still falls short of Wadham's predictions. This is a far cry from “runaway climate change.
This is worrying enough and a conclusion that wasn't available at the time of the DA paper. The models projecting sea ice loss are using existing projections of temperature rise. Some new studies suggest such rises will be faster. The IPCC previously assigned a probability of 17% for crossing the 1.5 °C mark by 2030, which underestimated a few key factors (Xu, et al. 2018) which “bring forward the estimated date of 1.5 °C of warming to around 2030, with the 2 °C boundary reached by 2045” (Xu, et al. 2018). The natural fluctuations in the Pacific “raises the odds of blasting through 1.5 °C by 2025 to at least 10%” they wrote. A closer study of this “Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO)” found that if it shifts to a positive warming phase, that “would lead to a projected exceedance of the [1.5C warming] target centered around 2026” (Henley and King, 2017). With this more rapid warming then the summer sea ice could be gone sooner than those models. Yes, this is uncertain. But then we turn to current observational data. The past 12 months were 1.3 degrees warmer than pre-industrial (Copernicus Institute), which might not be an anomaly. Xu, Y, V. Ramanathan and D. G. Victor (2018) Global warming will happen faster than we think, in Nature, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07586-5 Henley, B. J. & King, A. D. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4256–4262 (2017) https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2017GL073480
but Deep Adaptation has almost single-handedly resurrected [claims about marine clathrates]
Type 6: This is simply incorrect misrepresentation of the paper. I review a range of peer reviewed studies on the issue of methane hydrates on the Arctic sea floor. Concluding on this issue I write: "the recent attempt at a consensus that it is highly unlikely we will see near-term massive release of methane from the Arctic Ocean is sadly inconclusive." I also write: "Nothing is certain. But it is sobering that humanity has arrived at a situation of our own making where we now debate the strength of analyses of our near-term extinction." (which is the risk from a massive methane release). It is important we pay attention to the latest measurements, especially of the role of micro-organisms in sea water that consume methane as they are key. Therefore a new study showing seepage from Antarctica where microbes are not stopping it reaching the surface is a concern. The word 'concern' does not quite capture it, given that the hazard is so high to the whole human race. A.R. Thurber, S. Seabrook and R. M. Welsh (2020) Riddles in the cold: Antarctic endemism and microbial succession impact methane cycling in the Southern Ocean, Proc. R. Soc. B 287. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.113
For example, the blog previously predicted a global temperature rise of a full 20 degrees Celsius by 2040 using a physically unjustified polynomial trendline one could fit in Excel
Type 5: The inclusion of this discussion implies to the reader that I use predictions from Arctic News. I do not use any predictions from them. Instead, I used them for a source on current observational data. That is easily changed, to source where they obtained that from. The authors are not saying the data I cite is wrong.
Aside from confusing global with local arctic temperature increase
Type 5: The new paragraph means it is unclear to the reader who is being debunked here. I did not make this prediction.
...after 2007 methane has mostly come from outside polar regions, which would rule out Arctic permafrost or methane hydrates as the driver of the recent increase.
Type 6: My discussion of the peer reviewed literature on this topic is more substantive than the discussion here, which includes a logical fallacy. The presence of other sources of methane do not negate the possible increase of methane from the sea floor. Methane that can not be fully accounted for could be from the sea floor so it is important to keep analysing current observational data, rather than only wait for peer reviewed studies of trends over long durations. That is where we differ. For a hazard as great as this, I do not believe in privileging the institutions and norms of science more than full attention to the multiple ways we can gain insight on what is happening - and that means looking at real time measurements. https://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends_ch4/ However, I realise that the way I discuss real time measurements can be alarming and yet these measurements are not conclusive. Therefore I have removed the real time measurements of methane and replaced with published academic studies on recent methane data.
claims of an apocalypse
Type 5: My DA paper has a subtitle "apocalypse uncertain" at the end of the discussion of methane. Whether the methane hydrates on the sea floor are a factor or not, the methane from on-land permafrost is a huge issue and melting far faster than previously predicted. So the focus on sea floor not a scientifically justifiable choice for an assessment of rapid climate change implications.
...associated solely with Arctic natural methane emission feedbacks are misleading, since they guide attention away from the fact that the direction of atmospheric methane concentrations, and their effect on climate, largely remain the responsibility of anthropogenic GHG emissions.
Type 8: Here the IPCC authors illustrate their bias on matters they do not know about. Why does awareness of natural sources of methane guide people away from urgent mitigation of anthropogenic methane, rather than more urgency? Cutting methane is essential. A concern for methane from on-land or sea floor permafrost is not a distraction, just as concern about child labour is not a distraction from adult worker rights. The IPCC author and these essay authors are making a false binary, perhaps for purposes of shutting down discussion or allaying their own concerns. I would respect the latter intention, as this is such a scary topic.
...it is a gross misrepresentation of the science to say that it is likely, let alone inevitable, that non-anthropogenic methane emissions have or will become the dominant warming factor regardless of our actions going forwards.
Type 5: This is further misrepresentation as described above. The risks of on-land methane release is so important that this essay is risking distracting people from that. These two studies since he DA paper illustrate the problem. First, more rapid methane concentrations than expected. Second, permafrost melting 70 years faster than predicted. Nisbet, E. G., et al. (2019) “Very strong atmospheric methane growth in the four years 2014-2017: Implications for the Paris Agreement” Global Biogeochemical Cycles Vol. 3 Issue 33 pp 318-342, Available at https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GB006009 Farquharson, L. M., Romanovsky, V.E., Cable, W. L., Walker, D. A., Kokelj,S. V., & Nicolsky, D. (2019). "Climate change drives widespread and rapid thermokarst development in very cold permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic. Geophysical Research Letters, 46. Available at https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL082187
Deep Adaptation exaggerates tipping points
Type 5: I did not exaggerate methane hydrates as I did not say that this tipping point has activated yet.
[Deep Adaptation ] promotes false science on arctic sea ice
Type 5: Professor Wadhams is not "false science." That is an unscientific statement to make, rather insulting to a senior climate scientist and potentially libellous, so it is a shame the authors were not better supported by the scientists in the editing process.
this was what is called a 'perspectives' paper – a speculative think piece which made a suggestion, not a detailed numerical study backed up by new modelling or experimental
Type 4: The non-recognition of the own subjectivity of the authors means they criticise something published in a top journal by top scientists after having just based their critique on the points of one researcher on his tipping points blog.
the lowest temperature at which this cascade was hypothesised to begin was 2°C higher than pre-industrial times, a mark which we definitely have not yet reached.
Type 5: Very few people are saying we have reached 2 degrees global warning over 1850 baseline. The 12 months prior to June 2020 were 1.3C above pre industrial. Research I cited above suggests 2 degrees by 2045. New research suggests 1.5 is possible by 2025. An assessment of whether we can stay below 2 degrees of warming is fallible, given the weaknesses of models. The paleo record suggests we will reach 2 degrees because of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. If we discount that, then still the view that we can stay below 2 degrees is a matter for insight from the social, economic and political sciences etc. Therefore it is not bad science to state that staying below 2 degrees looks impossible.
the timescale over which these changes were hypothesised to occur is centuries to millennia, not the few decades that would be required to support claims of near-term societal collapse.
Type 6: This is out of date. The same scientists have written in the journal Nature that 9 of the 15 tipping points show signs of being activated. I am surprised that the scientists consulted for this essay did not alert the authors to this crucial information, given that it is their specialism. Lenton, T. M. et al (2019) Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against: The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions, Nature, 27 NOVEMBER 2019
the PNAS paper... does not say that we might already be too late
Type 6: As stated above, those scientists do say now that it might be too late. The use of these scientists' work to make an argument, while ignoring the same scientists' more recent work on the same subject, is a pattern in this essay i.e. for both deep adaptation and tipping points.
The Deep Adaptation paper does not make the distinction between nonlinear and unstoppable.
Type 1: This is a reasonable critique but an irrelevant one, because of what we are dealing with i.e. natural processes that may be well beyond the control of humanity. Therefore, I will insert the following in the revised paper: "While non-linear does not theoretically mean unstoppable, in the natural world, changes like non-linear rise in sea level or non-linear changes in sea ice, are the result of such massive processes that it is reasonable to consider that those non-linear processes would be unstoppable. In other words, that would constitute what is called - ‘runaway climate change.’ "
[The Deep Adaptation paper] appears to confuse nonlinear change with unstoppable exponential growth
Type 5: Where? I say that non-linear sea level rise might indicate exponential but that we cannot definitely tell yet.
[Bendell] also writes in the original paper that the IPCC incorrectly assumes linear as opposed to nonlinear increases in quantities like sea level rise.
Type 6: The source for the claim on the IPCC is the report "What Lies Beneath" which I cited earlier.
But they avoid the trap of lending too much importance to short fluctuations in the climate. As a result, a recent review of 15 different historical models used since 1970 found “no evidence that the climate models evaluated in this paper have systematically overestimated or underestimated warming over their projection period.”
Type 6: Scientific convention does not conclude what is the new normal climate situation and therefore what is a confirmed trend unless an agreed period of time has passed, typically decades. That means step changes that might be occurring within that period in front of our eyes (and our measuring devices) can be disavowed by climate scientists. For instance, it is 1.3 degrees warmer right now, globally, over the last 12 months. That is currently seen as an anomaly. However, in future it might be seen as the new normal according to scientific convention. If it is, then the temperature will already significantly have increased. In addition, one area where the models have failed and that is obviously centrally important to ecosystems and humans is the variability of weather and temperature changes, within the global average.
the tipping points that Deep Adaptation refers to threaten us far less than it claims
Type 4: Actually a more balanced statement would be that the tipping points could threaten us as much, more, or less than I claim. Because I claim that because some of them are starting, when combined with existing warming and warming-momentum, we will experience dangerous levels of climate change that lead to societal breakdown. I don't claim human extinction, and some think a hothouse Earth scenario would mean that. So emphasis on less bad rather than more bad is a subjective choice of the authors.
mainstream climate science has predicted warming fairly accurately
Type 4: This is a subjective choice to focus on one measure to assess the models - the range of possible global average ambient temperatures. Instead, what is significant about predictions is whether they tell us about the changes that matter to ecosystems and people. The models underpredicted volatility. Also climate science underpredicted the impacts on things like permafrost melt.
Bendell’s criticisms generally misunderstand how mainstream climate science models work
Type 5: This statement is not explained or proven in this essay.
human activity, rather than climate feedback processes, still comprises the dominant influence on climate change
Type 5: In the paper I do not say that emissions from feedbacks matters more than anthropogenic emissions. I say that whatever we do now we will have dangerous levels of climate change. That is different.
We have primary agency in the outcome, it is not at all “too late.
Type 6: Who is we? How is this a credible statement when we have clear data on emissions rising despite 40 years of discussion, activism and policy initiative? As cited above (Lenton et al, 2019) are suggesting it may be too late to prevent the tipping points driving temperature rise. Aside from that, the economic system we currently operate within requires growth and that is why nothing is changing in terms of emissions. Let alone changing sufficiently to have a significant impact. It is never too late to do good things. DA is about helping people to work out what good things to do now. And avoid creating further harm.
But Deep Adaptation brings up so many spurious claims that it would be a massive undertaking to thoroughly refute them all. Instead, for now we should focus on the fact that almost all of the climate science claims underlying Deep Adaptation’s predictions of societal collapse are wrong.
Type 6: This is a huge statement, that almost all of the claims are wrong. I welcome the authors to provide more detail of what is wrong, in an online googledoc version of the paper. In this document I have to focus on the things critiqued (mostly incorrectly).
inevitable methane release from the seafloor leading to a rapid collapse of societies will trigger multiple meltdowns of some of the world’s 400 nuclear power-stations, leading to the extinction of the human race”
Type 5: This is misrepresentation. The section of the paper that this quote appears in is where I discuss how other people are framing the predicament. The existence of people talking about near term human extinction is relevant to a discussion of how different people are framing the situation. I write this in the original paper: "there are thousands of people on Facebook groups who believe human extinction is near. In such groups I have witnessed how people who doubt extinction is either inevitable or coming soon are disparaged by some participants for being weak and deluded. This could reflect how some of us may find it easier to believe in a certain than an uncertain story, especially when the uncertain future would be so different to today that it is difficult to comprehend. " That sounds like a warning to me! The authors were advised by one Professor who creates models of narratives on climate. Therefore, it is surprising that they weren't advised that a section discussing how other people are discussing things does not mean that you, the analyst, are endorsing that narrative. Some may wish to wed DA with human extinction, but that would be for tactical purposes, and is not credible social scientific scholarship.
Nuclear plants do plan for “Station Blackout” events in which contact with the outside world is cut off. For example the AP1000 design being built at the Vogtle site in the US includes planning, equipment, and supplies to “provide safety functions for an indefinite time” in the event of station blackout. Newer designs are intended to be “walk away safe”
Type 4: Please let us see a proper assessment of all 400+ stations, or otherwise this is cherry picking. Given that the lead author of this essay is a nuclear scientist, we can expect and demand a more full assessment of the situation.
If each simultaneously released a Chernobyl-level amount of radioactive material, the average radiation dose per square mile over the earth would be far less than the dose per square mile which the whole of Ukraine suffered as a result of the actual Chernobyl accident.
Type 4: Chernobyl is not a proper comparison. There was containment. A proper study could be done on if all radiation were to be released over centuries, what that would mean for mammalian life. Has such a study been done? i could not find one. Which could be surprising, given the interest many have in nuclear power.
McPherson’s atmospheric oxygen claim was made on the same webpage that Deep Adaptation cited as the source for the implausible nuclear meltdown scenario. His claims are so ludicrous that this citation casts immediate doubt on the integrity of the rest of Deep Adaptation’s references.
Type 5: Once again, this is a category mistake by the authors. I cite Mcpherson for saying that extinction is inevitable but do not agree with him in the DA paper. This essay cites McPherson as well. Does that make this essay worthy of criticism for citing him? Therefore the wedding of DA and extinction appears unscholarly.
beyond scattered discredited sources like McPherson
Type 5: I do not cite McPherson to explain how collapse would happen because a) I do not express agreement with him in my paper 2) I do not go into any detail about how collapse will happen (a weakness in may paper)
Any serious prediction should back up such a statement with a line of reasoning. But this is not a serious prediction — rather, it’s a highly effective emotional appeal to fear, masquerading as science
Type 1: I agree that the paper could say a lot more on how collapse will happen. There is a lot of knowledge on collapse processes, that I didn't include. I recommend Servigne and Stevens (2020). However, I am explicit in the lead up to this statement that I am breaking with convention to break through the way that we think what academics write about is not real to us in our own lives. I recommend looking into autoethnography which encourages researchers to be open about personal experiences and also to see to connect with the reader in an emotional way. Adams, T. et al. (2015) Autoethnography. New York: Oxford University Press.
Deep Adaptation strikes a skilful balance... to conceal the lack of serious evidence for its own predictions
Type 7: This statement suggests an intent that is about manipulation of the reader. So let's recap. The paper was meant for my professional community, which is the corporate sustainability profession. The essay is using illogical reasoning: because a paper became viral and went outside its intended audience, that somehow it was intended to do that. If I wanted that, then why did I not write more about collapse processes? There was already a lot published on collapse, catastrophic risks and such like, and I simply did not know about it as I was knew to the field.
the climate movement bears structural vulnerabilities to people who misinterpret climate science for a public audience
Type 9: The notion of 'structure' in the field of discourse typically refers to power, and matters like patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy affecting the way we interpret and discuss the world. Therefore, to seriously consider structural vulnerabilities then we need to consider the financial structures that shape modes of communication. In this instance, what are the financial incentives of people writing this or any article, and how is ideology shaping the way this is written, published and promoted? The authors are not sociologists and venturing into areas that are, I would argue, more sophisticated than many areas of climate science. I refer to previous suggestions to begin to learn about these areas (Fairclough 2014), as well as writers on structures and corporate power (from Gramsci, Foucault, Adorno, Chomsky).
the vast majority of people in the climate movement don’t have time to review the scientific literature for ourselves
Type 8: This article is 10000 words long and misrepresents the original paper many times. The length of it means that the facts may not have been cross checked by people involved in its publication nor by people who read it on Open Democracy. Given the central importance of this topic to human life, this is not a minor matter, hence why I took the time to address each criticism.
Promoting dissenting non-experts as highly qualified though they have not published any actual climate research and/or received any relevant education
Type 8: The authors of this essay are not climate scientists and so the confidence of the criticism, especially when misrepresenting my use of sources, is misplaced.
Guy McPherson nevertheless receives a serious treatment in Deep Adaptation
Type 5: I don't agree with him in the paper. Even if I had done, how does that then undermine the rest of an analysis unless you are wanting to do that?
Logically flawed arguments that lead to false conclusions
Type 6: The biggest logical fallacy in this article is that because one paper has some weaknesses that the whole field of collapse anticipation is not valid.
nonlinearities in the climate system lead to accelerating impacts
Type 4: This is a theoretical distinction that is unhelpful for an appreciation of what is happening in the real world. Sea levels won't suddenly stop rising in an increasing way like Covid 19. It is a bizarre and unscientific comparison to suggest sea level rise might have a behaviour similar to flattening the curve of a disease. To do that is not bringing us nearer the truth. To make that comparison suggests an over emphasis on abstract mathematical thought that paying attention to context and relevance. This is not an unusual bias for people attracted to certain sciences. Transdisciplinary analysis is aided by having insight into different modes of learning and how different people think and like to think, as that shapes a discipline.
But the therefore in the argument is unsubstantiated — Deep Adaptation simply provides no logical argument to back it up. (‘Societal collapse’ is not even defined anywhere in the text.)
Type 1: I agree that the paper does not say enough about the mechanisms of societal collapse to provide the sceptical reader with sufficient information. However, there is loads of research out there that does provide that. So if the aim of our lives and our discussion here is to sense some truth about our situation, then there is little point to focus on one weakness of one paper rather than look at the other information? eg: Servigne and Stevens (2020).
Impossible standards: Demanding unrealistic standards of certainty before acting on the science.
Type 5: I do not demand impossible standards but identify the social construction of climate scientific and environmental discourse, which limits its usefulness. Whereas this article demands that DA paper is perfect in order to allow people to have their discussions of societal collapse without being shamed by others.
This technique can manifest as demanding that the IPCC’s predictions all be near-perfect. Deep Adaptation claims that “The observed phenomena, of actual temperatures and sea levels, are greater than what the climate models over the past decades were predicting for our current time.” While the observed warming has been slightly higher than the mean of the results of the model runs used by the IPCC, it has fallen well within their expected range.
Type 6: There is much evidence of the problems with the underprediction of the risks by the IPCC, that I have referenced earlier. It is a very imaginative argument that criticism of the underprediction of risk is a form of climate denial. And not credible.
Deep Adaptation dismisses the work of the entire IPCC related to methane by citing a single paper about methane clathrates, with no mention of the multiple papers which disagree with its conclusions.
Type 5: This is a complete misrepresentation. I discuss a range of peer reviewed studies on methane clathrates and do not conclude on this matter, let along conclude from one study. This is such a mistake, it suggest this section was written by someone who has not read the DA paper and was instead looking to illustrate the model. Discourse analysis involves far higher standards of textual analysis. Once again, I recommend Fairclough (2014) as a way of getting started, and recommend it to the scientists who helped this article as well.
Deep Adaptation invites its readers “to consider the value of leaving mainstream views behind,” as if those views are inherently flawed by virtue of being mainstream.
Type 7: This statement is addressing the intended audience of the paper which is management studies and corporate sustainability professionals. It is normal to invite people to take a more critical perspective. This is a key approach in most social sciences, and yet it is labelled as peculiar or conspiratorial here. That reflects a lack of depth of understanding of critical social theory, critical pedagogies. I recommend engaging in that literature.
Practicing logical positivism puts the burden of proof on the author making the claim
Type 4: This 10,000 word essay was not put through proper peer review. Nor did it even give the author of the paper being critiqued a right to comment ahead of publication. I hope this response will reduce future mistreatment of the fields of collapsology and deep adaptation appearing in the academe. I am surprised to read of the uncritical mention of logical positivism as the basis for validity of scholarship. There are perhaps thousands of texts over the past 50 years that critique logical positivism. The feminist epistemology reference I mentioned earlier would be a good place to start.
We have already seen how this claim gets it wrong. In large, chaotic systems like the climate system, erratic behaviour can lead to short-lived trends that merely seem catastrophic when extrapolated further into the future. Real-time data is important in that it provides more information about the climate system and allows us to constantly refine our predictions. It does not demonstrate that recent non-linear changes will continue into the future.
Type 4: I would ask anyone who takes this position: what if you are wrong? We must not let scientific convention undermine what we see in front of our own eyes and measuring instruments. It is merely convention that determines how long we look at something before people with positions of power in a society agree that it s a trend. Do we need to observe someone for 10 years before we conclude they died 10 years ago? The conventions in science use statistics but are nonetheless social constructions. I recommend authors and interested persons read any of the many critiques of logical positivism.
Most of the lone experts cited in Deep Adaptation turned out not to be so lucky, but even if they had made spot-on predictions at one time or another, that would not give reason to trust them above the entire IPCC.
Type 6: This essay ignores the extensive information on the limitations of the IPCC that I have listed earlier. It also denies the DA paper has many dozens of references from scientists, not lone experts. Indeed, this essay has suggested that the lone experts I relied on are three. First, Wadhams, a Professor at Cambridge Uni. Second, McPherson, who I do not cite as a source for my own assessments but as an example of other framings of the problem. Third, Arctic News, who I cite merely for methane data, not for analysis or views.
just because the IPCC has sometimes given (slightly!) conservative predictions on particular questions, that does not justify disregarding its overwhelming body of evidence and concluding that societal collapse is inevitable
Type 6: The DA paper does not say because IPCC is conservative therefore there will be collapse. That is a silly argument. The paper says that because the IPCC has not given the full up-to-date situation, it is worth looking more closely. Then I report on what I found. It is no surprise that IPCC serving scientists will not like that.
because their investment in achieving status within existing social structures makes them “more naturally inclined to imagine reform of those systems than their upending.” As scientists, we take some small satisfaction in seeing this faulty argument
Type 9: That some climate scientists would dismiss such mainstream critique, founded in decades of sociology, suggests a hubris that undermines intelligent discussion. I refer back to the sociology texts mentioned earlier.
These forceful public actions in support of radical, science-based change show that many climate scientists are more outspoken than Bendell gives credit for.
Type 8: I have been engaged in the "XR Scientists" efforts and they are a mixed group in terms of engagement and opinion. The product of their efforts was not ideal. For the October 2019 rebellion, they produced what turned out to be counter productive media briefings for spokespersons. It was obvious that the media would ask an organisation with Extinction in its name what is the evidence that we are at risk of human extinction. The XR scientists briefing said there is no scientific consensus on that. Yet that was not the salient point. Rather, the fact that 2 climate scientists have written in a peer reviewed journal that the human race has a 1 in 20 chance over going extinct this century due to climate change (Xu and Ramanathan, 2017) is relevant to hear from any XR spokesperson. Why would anyone need consensus before warning the public that this risk is seen by some? Not to respect what communications worked in the previous 2 rebellions and instead change something so fundamental to the organisation, was either incompetence or bad intent. It meant that spokespersons went on TV and could only answer the question with "its complicated". That was a damaging effect of XR scientists on the October 2019 Rebellion. If scientists don't recognise how they are sometimes being counter productive with their attachment to their methods and their sense of pride, then we lose time. Xu, Y. and V Ramanathan (2017) Well below 2 °C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(39) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618481114
World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)
Typo. Let's the name right :-) World Wide Fund for Nature. https://www.wwf.org.la/about/
Wadhams, gained prominence... by making bold but weakly supported claims
Type 5: A misrepresentation of someone who gained prominence from being a lifelong polar scientist and Cambridge University Professor.
scientists... can tell you whether or not a sudden catastrophic release of methane or human extinction due to a chain of nuclear meltdowns is actually plausible.
Type 6: I did not conclude on either scenario. These authors suggest collapse is not plausible by arguing that two scenarios are not plausible, thereby ignoring many other stressors and factors, and by mis-allocating those scenarios as arguments of one paper of one person that they critique, thereby ignoring a vast field of relevant scholarship. Therefore, this is unscientific. In the gaining of climatologist and climate communicator support for their unscientific anti-DA thesis, the authors have helped to bring to light a problematic and seemingly unscholarly bias of those scientists, which reflects a wider problem of denial that is explained in the original paper. That if they hear of this they may feel insulted is exactly how this process of denial is maintained. People in positions of privilege need to get over their assumption they are entitled not to feel annoyed or demeaned. If they don't they are upholding modernist dominator cultures as decolonisation experts have explained so well. https://decolonialfutures.net/portfolio/conversations-with-deep-adaptation/
if societal collapse were truly inevitable, it would make no sense to practice mass civil disobedience against governments that would shortly fall apart.
Type 8: If that is the case then why do so many people who believe collapse is coming then take civil disobedience? The evidence is there, on the power of having nothing to lose. XR and others have not focused on DA or adaptation. If it were, then there would be many ideas for what it could call on government to do to help reduce harm. The ability for these authors to speculate like this is precisely because XR has not adopted DA. If it did, then it could call for food security policy, urgent localisation, alternative currency and payment systems to guard against financial collapse, an urgent assessment and securing of industrial facilities (including nuclear, including worldwide) to see how resilient they can be to collapse, and so on. The UNDRR has a widespread agenda on disaster risk reduction. These authors also indicate no historical awareness. Karl Marx predicted the collapse of capitalism due to its internal contradictions. People who liked his ideas have had a mix of both good and horrible impacts on human history. But they certainly didn't become apathetic because of anticipated collapse.
we in the climate movement should view societal collapse as a distinct possibility
Type 1: This is the view of DA agenda and the DA community. So, by implication, the authors misrepresent the DA field as only about inevitability.
A defeatist outlook also removes the agency from future acts of harm.
Type 8: On the contrary, this article and those who do not allow themselves to pay attention to possible societal collapse and deep adaptation are defeatist. They currently give up, intellectually and emotionally, when considering that modern consumer society might not be sustained. That is defeatist and future generations may benefit from us being a lot braver and bolder than that.
be less inclined to support the indigenous and front-line communities still fighting to defend their land.
Type 8: The idea that we would only fight for justice, lowering suffering and human rights because because of an instrumental value to climate management is both revolting and not a widely shared view. What we find is that many people in DA are returning to core principles, of love and solidarity. I agree with indigenous people who tell us that we should learn from them as they have been experiencing social collapse for decades. The paternalism and instrumentalism in these statements is not unusual in mainstream western scientific communities. I recommend reading, with an open mind and heart, more about decolonisation of oneself. On indigenous peoples and climate change I recommend this from an indigenous scholar and colleagues: Whyte, K.P., Talley, J. and Gibson, J. (2019) Indigenous Mobility Traditions, Colonialism and the Anthropocene, Mobilities, 14 (3): 319-335.
In fact, a recent study surveying 50,000 people found that “individuals who believe that climate change is unstoppable were less likely to engage in behaviours or support policies to address climate change
Type 8: This is a really important issue which needs serious attention. If this is the case, it doesn't mean we do not consider, conclude or talk about collapse. Rather, we need to look at that first and then consider how to communicate well about it to avoid negative outcomes. However, this study is not backed up by other research on the matter. First, I cite relevant research in the actual DA paper that shows the opposite effect. Second, the following study suggests motivational effects of anticipating bad outcomes. Tannenbaum et al. (2015) Appealing to fear: A Meta-Analysis of Fear Appeal Effectiveness and Theories. Psychol Bull. 141(6): 1178–1204.
telling the fatalist tale of Deep Adapatation is not. [a radical and extremely powerful act]
Type 8: It is not fatalist but incredibly generative, as the strategy options process has demonstrated most recently. https://jembendell.com/2020/07/25/the-creativity-and-agency-of-collapse-anticipation/
Deep Adaptation encourages a kind of paralysis when it claims that “there is no ‘effective’ response” to the crisis
Type 5: This is a fake quote, as it is not in the DA paper. The DA agenda is about opening up to a wider agenda for possible action, not giving up.
Building that power is the main goal of the climate movement
Type 9: As authors interested in social change then it would be sensible to look into how that happens, which could involve studying the field of new social movements, among other areas. One could also consider how we reproduce the ideologies of undemocratic forms of knowledge production and discussion, in ourselves as we engage in this effort. The concept of decolonisation helps. Andreotti, V. (2014). Conflicting epistemic demands in poststructuralist and postcolonial engagements with questions of complicity in systemic harm. Educational Studies, 50(4), 378-397.
Deep Adaptation says “you’re right, everyone else is catastrophically wrong, and you’d best accept the consequences
Type 8: This is a fundamentally misleading statement, and especially so to put such rhetoric in quotation marks, as if it is an actual statement. The Deep Adaptation agenda is exactly the opposite of this message, because it is an invitation to explore what the implications of collapse anticipation might be for your own life. It doesn't tell people to "accept the consequences" but to explore what they want to do in response.
If it feels right, it feels right in much the same way a cult feels right to its members: by depriving them of information.
Type 8: Implying DA is like a cult when it is a completely open, free and non-dogmatic conversation is not a scholarly statement. The authors could choose to learn about cults from the psychological, sociological and anthropological texts for that. The attention to the inner world and how aversions to emotions shapes what one perceives or wishes to believe is key and something I recommend the authors and readers explore further and deeper. On the FB group we have discussed how to guard against cultish behaviours.
It is unfortunate that neither the editors or scientists inputting on this essay didn't advise against such a term for what is a discussion of disagreement. The definition of "malpractice" is: "a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one (such as a physician) rendering professional services which results in injury, loss, or damage." I would advise any student or colleague against such language when engaging in discussion. That is for both reasons of enabling cordial dialogue of difficult subjects and also safeguarding them from persons who might pursue legal remedy. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malpractice
By framing arguments like those presented in Deep Adaptation as the sole alleged justification for Extinction Rebellion’s protests, deniers and delayists can dismiss the entire movement as “alarmist.”
Type 8: I can find no evidence anywhere online of any reporter challenging XR about the Deep Adaptation paper or its arguments. That might be because a) XR has not predicted inevitable collapse b) XR has not focused on adaptation yet c) Reporters can challenge the scientific claims of some in XR without reference to one paper, agenda and tiny movement of people.
Believing that the end is nigh
Type 8: This casual and pejorative phrase is unclear. The DA agenda is for people who believe that the end of industrial consumer societies is probably or definitely nigh. If that is equated with the entirety of life by someone, then that reflects their own bias and attachment, not ours.
A belief in near-term collapse or extinction engenders a depth of desperation which makes the kind of long-term planning we need in order to live through the climate crisis redundant.
Type 8: The elision of societal collapse with human extinction is not done in my paper, is not done in the DA field, and DA Forum platforms have explicitly stated that no one must mention human extinction as a reason for not engaging positively in our situation. It is in the rules of the Facebook group (the curation of which was criticised earlier in an inaccurate way).
That work will require planning on multi-year or decadal scales, and ensuring that institutions like governments, banks, and universities — not to mention entire industries — contribute to the structural transformation that needs to occur.
Type 9: It is a mainstream concern in Climate Change Adaptation to consider what pace of change there will be and the impacts on human societies, to avoid mis-investing now in technologies and infrastructures. For instance, whether to protect certain infrastructure or agricultural practices or decide they can't be preserved. Ref an adaptation paper. Klein, R. J. T. et al. (2015) ‘Adaptation opportunities, constraints, and limits’, Climate Change 2014 Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects, pp. 899–944.
Further, Deep Adaptation’s vague framing of “collapse” ignores important aspects of severe societal disruption. It’s not a binary; there can be varying degrees of collapse, and different kinds of collapse. At every step, it always makes sense to keep fighting, both to prevent further damages and to recover from past ones
Type 1: True, I did not define collapse or go into the mechanisms. I was new to that field. I recommend this book on that topic. I wrote the foreword, so am I little biased (and better informed now). Servigne, P and R Stevens (2020) How Everything Can Collapse. Polity.
Bendell references the abilities of Native leaders to come up with new forms of hope as they were confined to reservations — what Deep Adaptation calls “their new lifestyle”. There are myriad problems in this framing of the attempted destruction of Indigenous societies: most prominently, it ignores the genocidal intent of the US government, the wilful and violent land grabs of settlers, and the resulting rampant despair in Indigenous communities.
Type 5: This is a misquotation of my text in ways that mislead the reader. As one leading Indigenous Scholar wrote in a comment on the essay, it risks "mobilising aggression" against me due to giving an impression I have white supremacist views. Instead, in the paper I write about the importance of learning from how cultures faced with collapse learned about that. I said we should learn from First Peoples of North America. I cited scholarship that is rare and respectful, as far as I knew at the time, of their experience. I did that to invite readers of that paper, mostly middle class western people focused on management, to consider how we need to have conversations about letting go of what we consider normal in our own societies – which are industrial consumer societies. The point I was making is that people living in industrial consumer societies must now prepare for massive relinquishment of lifestyles. Since the Deep Adaptation Forum was launched in 2019, we have been holding space for discussions infused with attention to anti-patriarchy, social justice, and decolonisation. The authors of the OD article speculate on what Deep Adaptation ideas mean for poor and indigenous communities, without looking at what we actually do or say on that. Clearly, people of colour should never ever be reduced to objects for rhetorical use in our white middle class squabbles, whether in the realm of climate activism or not. I am pleased to have been learning from experts in decolonisation, including people from the global South and indigenous communities. I recommend the western environmental movement urgently learn more from them, and give voice to them. Starting with their views on climate activism here. https://decolonialfutures.net/portfolio/conversations-with-deep-adaptation/
Deep Adaptation ignores the fact that if some form of climate-spurred collapse occurs, it will be imposed by a set of people and institutions who will likely dodge its effects, at least for a time.
Type 8: The original paper was not about politics, and subsequently the DA Forum is explicitly against the development of authoritarianism or of eco-fascism. The antecedent of those political systems are found in the psychologies that fear other people's views and seek to control narratives. It is why DA Forum is offering modalities for dialogue which accept emotions will run high and to hold space for that, so it is not suppressed and appears in aggressive argumentation.
No such consideration is found in Deep Adaptation. (None of the words “justice”, “equality”, “racial”, or “colonial” appear once in 13,181 words of text.) The audience for Deep Adaptation is clearly Western, with collapse described as “a situation where the publishers of this journal would no longer exist”. This means there are only two ways to interpret the unwritten equity implications of Deep Adaptation’s framing of collapse, both of which directly conflict with a justice-centric response.
Type 8: I applaud attention to justice, equality, decolonisation. I worked for many years at the UN Research Institute for Social Development, which focused on such matters in the context of environmental issues. The DA Paper was written for the western corporate sustainability profession and says so in the paper. Subsequently, I have returned to discuss matters of global justice and decolonisation. I recommend these for starters: https://jembendell.com/2019/11/05/will-we-care-enough-to-matter-to-them-climate-justice-solidarity-and-deep-adaptation/ https://jembendell.com/2020/07/02/why-do-modern-humans-oppress-and-destroy-life-on-earth-and-what-to-do-about-it/
Bendell’s narrative of inevitable collapse conveniently ignores the debt owed by wealthy nations to exploited ones, regardless
Type 8: Neither I nor DA community has ignored it, and that can be discovered from visiting the links in my last comment and accessing articles, speeches and interviews.
we are therefore all doomed together and equally, then this is the polar opposite of a justice-oriented approach. Aside from being completely inconsistent with climate science, this framing is harmful in the same way that “All Lives Matter” as a response to “Black Lives Matter” is harmful.
Type 8: This is interesting. It requires further analysis. Does a sense of personal vulnerability of middle class westerners lead them to turn toward or away from the current and future suffering of others, including the suffering that they are complicit or compliant with? It is an important topic, which I have invited exploration on through a speech, interview, article last year. It is a topic that is relevant to the new Diversity and Decolonisation discussion group in the Deep Adaptation Forum. My view is that ignoring the growing sense of vulnerability amongst people in the West and telling them they must stay positive, defined in terms of material outcomes, is not helping people process emotions and begin to change. We take the topic seriously, so this dismissal is inaccurate. https://jembendell.com/2020/07/02/why-do-modern-humans-oppress-and-destroy-life-on-earth-and-what-to-do-about-it/
If we psychologically abandon all the complex institutions and structures we live in and rely on (as Deep Adaptation advocates)
Type 8: There is no advocacy of abandoning complex institutions or structures, either in the original DA paper, or in the DA framework (4Rs) or in the DA community and Forum. Instead, there are discussion groups on many issues, including how to engage structures like education, government, psychology profession, religions, etc. I would like to see more work done on that. I am disappointed in the lack of real social solidarity and political awareness within the climate movement at present, which may arise from it being dominated by western middle class people, as I explain both in the paper and here in a blog on what climate striking could really involve, and how youth strikers are being let down by adults including those in environmental NGOs. My contributions to climate campaign strategy are transparent: https://jembendell.com/2020/02/06/what-activism-next-ideas-for-climate-campaigners/
We should publicly disavow the message that near-term collapse is inevitable, or that climate-induced total human extinction is plausible. There is uncertainty, but not so much that one can claim anything will happen.
Type 9: The concept of disavowal is something I recommend looking into. It is a process known amongst psychologists as the denial of known truths because they give rise to difficult emotions that people wish to avoid. The DA framework invites people to let go of their emotional attachment to certainty of a future that is safe for themselves and those they love. That attachment is preventing us paying attention to possible futures in ways that might help us reduce harm for humanity. https://jembendell.com/2019/11/03/hope-in-a-time-of-climate-chaos-a-speech-to-psychotherapists
We should be much stricter and more careful with science messaging
Type 4: The use of the term "strict" here could reflect desires to dominate other people's perceptions and impose a moral order on discourse, which are hallmarks of patriarchy and supremacist culture, that has been pervasive in scientism. I encourage looking at critiques of that form of discourse around knowledge. There is an extensive literature on it, including from feminist epistemologists, critical discourse theorists and such like, that I have referenced earlier.
350.org, and other groups now have an international network of sympathetic scientists and other experts to call upon. The movement is in a unique position to confront political and cultural incumbents across the UK
Type 9: Unfortunately, 350.org has reduced attention to the potential for an actual labour movement to support the youth climate strikes. This is not unusual -western environmental NGOs have been essential reformist, not radical, for decades, and therefore there utility is less than it could be. In that sense, many of these NGOs are part of the cultural incumbency. I say that having worked for many of them over the years. In the spirit of true radicalism and moving beyond reform, I recommend looking at the history of the labour movement and how the environmental movement must do so much more on that. Here is my suggestion for real adult solidarity with the youth strikers: https://jembendell.com/2020/02/03/striking/
There is a Greek myth about Persephone
Type 9: I love a bit of Greek myth and think it great to bring it to these discussions. The myth of Persephone seems to be understood by classicists as explaining how cultures chose to understand winter as part of a cycle of life and death. As such, it is in the realm of stories that encourage us to see loss and death as part of the cycle of life, not its enemy. In comparison, modern western cultures are loss- and death -averse, and that reflects in our inability to talk about it well, whether on an individual or collective level. I recommend Stephen Jenkinson on this topic. The readings on the myth that I find suggest that Persephone wanted to be with both Hades and her mother, and so compromised. That message seems to be about balance. I was unable to find any original academic citation about ambrosia being involved. I'd be happy to learn more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persephone#Abduction_myth https://www.ancient.eu/persephone/ Jenkinson, S. (2016) Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, North Atlantic Books.
believing that social collapse is inevitable provides a level of certitude and clarity which makes many choices simpler. But we must remember that the choice to believe in an inevitable collapse is itself a luxury, a form of escapism only available to those with the time and resources to plan for its consequences
Type 8: The DA agenda and framework is for any level of anticipation or experience of collapse. It is important we note that it is already happening in many parts of the world. The DA agenda and framework is the opposite of giving certitude, as it invites people to explore for themselves what the end of their assumption of progress and stability means for what they want to do with the rest of their lives.. what they want to live for. As I said at the end of my video on DA: what does love invite of you now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQwhZSdHh-Q
We know who is to blame
Type 4: I recommend considering the view from decolonisation scholars that the framing used here of having opponents to blame is not as radical or empowering as people may have been told. Instead, it helps the writers, myself and readers deny their own complicity and compliance with a system of ongoing exploitation and oppression. If one can forgive in advance of assessments, both of everyone else and oneself, then one can look deeper at all the potential harms being done by others and ourselves. If we wish to retain a perspective that we are the righteous ones, then we do not look at ourselves properly. I recommend the work of decolonisation Professor Vanessa Andreotti on this topic. https://decolonialfutures.net/portfolio/conversations-with-deep-adaptation/
it requires real work: not just nonviolent disobedience, but educating and training others, and gaining political power. As an argument and a philosophy Deep Adaptation ultimately requires none of these things
Type 8: I agree that DA "requires" nothing other than openness to explore with others with compassion, curiosity and respect. There is ample evidence that some people affected by DA have chosen nonviolent disobedience, educating others and developing ideas for policies or growing power at various levels. Other people are doing many other things besides because of DA. There is no requirement. However, last year I encouraged people to begin to consider tactics and policies for real structural change. https://jembendell.com/2020/02/06/what-activism-next-ideas-for-climate-campaigners/
we recommit ourselves to understanding how we can live well within planetary limits, imparting that knowledge to others, and excising the rot and paralysis from our politics
Here here! I am with you in that quest and have been all my working life.
The authors would like to thank Professor Julia Steinberger, Megan Ruttan Walker, Dr Chris Wymant and Dr Alison Green for input, and to Dr David McKay, Professor Richard Betts, Professor Rich Pancost, Dr Scott Archer-Nicholls, Dr James Dyke and many other scientists for checking the claims in this article
A Note to the Authors: Your essay is commendable in its attempt at relevance and attention to many issues, yet does so in ways that fail to inform the reader. The tone is oppositional, which reflects an approach to inquiry which the established scholars you were helped by did not invite you to reconsider. Many arguments are made without drawing upon the range of fields of scholarship that relate to the topics discussed, which suggests these established scholars either didn't read the piece properly or have limited knowledge of relevant disciplines. Therefore, I think you have been badly advised by these scholars and recommend you feed back to them to full comments on your essay. In particular, I know that Scientists Warning have helped you with this piece, and published it, and their new director has adopted a strategy to criticize anyone who they label as 'doomist'. Given the poor support you received, it appears Scientists Warning may need some more experienced and knowledgeable scholars to provide support to researchers in future.
For more detail on what climate tipping points do and do not imply for the planet, the science outreach project climatetippingpoints.info is an excellent resource.
Type 9: The tone and intention of this blog to pass "verdicts" on climate science claims is problematic, as I have described above. i.e. that intention is itself unscientific. In future, I do not recommend avoiding referencing a blog by a scientist with an agenda to debunk and shut down anything which suggests more rapid and dangerous climate change. Instead, I recommend talking to the scientists who are actually doing the research on specific tipping points or the phenomenon in general. Some understanding of cognitive linguistics and discourse analysis will help reveal the problems of this blog approach to the topic. Refer to the readings I have cited earlier.