Blog entry by Alan Chapman

Anyone in the world

Climate debate - Deep Adaptation critique - personal uncertainty and growth

As at August 2020 this is IMHO one of the most advanced examples of scientific climate debate. It might be the most advanced.

This is western/English-speaking 'scientific' large-scale debate about climate, and by implication the Anthropocene. There are perhaps more or different highly advanced states of climate/Anthropocene debate in other cultures/regions/forums. And at a very deep level questions/debates of future and existence are outside of 'science', for example in 'existential' studies and/or ways of life.

The importance of large-scale scientific debate is that perhaps it enables best ways to cooperate on a large scale, assuming that's what's required now, as seems likely.       

The paper (Critique of Deep Adaptation):

The accompanying YouTube interviews in the two parts:

Part 1 - 

Part 2 - 


Professor Jem Bendell's 2018 Deep Adaptation 'climate collapse' paper ( became the most downloaded climate document in history, and caused many thousands of people, probably millions, to question their existence, purpose and meaning, alongside whatever levels of concern people held anyway about climate and the Anthropocene.( 

This sort of emotional exploration  - on a personal existential level - is usually very painful, in the form of anxiety  - often produced by a cognitive dissonance ( - and/or processed as some other feelings of worry and, fear, uncertainty, powerlessness, etc.

It's different for each of us, and I'm fortunate that my perspective is suicide survival and 'positive disintegration', which from my standpoint is perspective and 'fearlessness' beyond death, or any fear of death. 

Even so Deep Adaptation disturbed me greatly, if only from the angle that it seems to assert the certainty or strong likelihood of near-term (i.e., within ten years) human extinction.

If this sounds alarmist, consider that David Attenborough is among hundreds of highly respected and extremely popularly followed mainstream scientists and commentators who've been asserting for several years similar devastation to humanity/life on Earth over longer periods (several decades) - unless climate/Anthropocene trends are reversed, and/or unprecedented engineering remedies, of global proportions, are discovered/invented and put into practical effect. 

Much of this debate is about denialism and bias, which is natural in humans; both based on a fear of engaging with or exposing ourselves to anything painful and difficult, which in each of us is greatly influenced by the biases of our personality and upbringing, and the conditionings we've experienced.    

In July/August 2020 the first major emergence of critique of Bendell's work seems to be happening, which IMHO is fabulously helpful for developing necessary cooperative debate, and then cooperative actions, involving as many different people and groups as possible. I refer people again to John Bunzl's (simultaneous policy, global) - IMHO the best cooperative practical happening concept addressing the Anthropocene (within which is the climate emergency). 

The two very helpful interviews were facilitated by Alison Green of ( and they offer a relatively accessible way to understand the shape of the debate, in whatever way you are able to engage with it.

My own reactions and clarifications - to add to the debate

Here are my reactions to the Deep Adaptation critique, which I posted as a comment on Part 2 of the YouTube interview.

"My work/lens is suicide/grief/Anthropocene - synergies/mitigations/creativity/love/optimism. 

IMHO suicide's lens is powerful: 

1 Grief = growth/letting go; life-stages, ultimately accepting that certainty is illusory + personal mortality; eventually embracing death, part of life, enabling peace, joy, gratitude for now/everything/anything, and fearless love/healing/helping others. All this in stages/degrees; different for everyone. Suicide,  grief/disintegration/survival, seem key to death/fear/love/life/everything. Other paths to peace available. 

2 Hope = personal meaning and purpose. Enables energy, actions small/large, so we live true to our born self/growth, free of conditioning/bias/guilt/compulsion. Small acts can impact/ripple more than large. Hopeful growth fosters kindness/selflessness. 

3 Cooperation = love/fearlessness, vulnerability, gratitude, acceptance, love, etc. Seems emergent in blend of how we each see life/universe/everything, so how we help world. Bunzl's, Dabrowski's are significant to me. Bias, language, death, fear/love, too. We each make our own universe, metaphorically, perhaps actually. 

All IMHO. Thanks again, Love, Alan"

My reactions and engagement are relatively deep and perhaps unusual. I'm 62 years old, with some quite serious life/trauma/suicide/death experience - and related personal growth - and this is all a matter of perspective, based on life experience and personal outlook, so it's important to engage at whatever level feels okay for yourself.

There are no right or wrong answers in such deep personal matters, except that we think for ourselves.

Think according to your own feelings, and resist the conditioning and biases of others and the world around you.

Incidentally while I was not among the first to read or engage with the Deep Adaptation paper and group. I was the first to engage with Jem Bendell in his first hosted online public webinar about Deep Adaptation, which at that time (early 2019) only about 60 people attended. It disturbed me considerably (especially as I was still quite deep in my own grief/recovery/processing), but significantly Jem and Deep Adaptation helped and helps me enormously - for many and varying reasons - and I thank him and his team, especially including Matthew Slater, for their incredibly brave and resourceful, meaningful work.

As humanity evolves, it does so in highly complicated organic ways. It's not a straight line, nor a line at all.

Extremes are necessary, as part of ultimately achieving a cooperative blended balanced way forward - in any debate and huge step-change - whether we look at small local issues, or wars and human rights, or technology, or anything else, and especially our individual and collective knowledge about life, death, universe and everything.



[ Modified: Wednesday, 23 December 2020, 12:31 PM ]