Terms used here
The concept of collapse has been around for many years, however as the field gets busier and many people use terms to mean different things, we have provided this glossary to help understand the way we use particular terms that are not yet commonly agreed. In many cases we have provided a summary of our position, followed by a link to others who have and are codefining the new lexicon. If you see better definitions, or nuances that we might have missed, please let us know and we will review.
CAPI stands for Comprehensive Authority, Power and Influence
Carrying capacity is the maximum number, density, or biomass of a population that a specific area can support sustainably.
Catastrophize: to imagine the worst possible outcome of an action or event: to think about a situation or event as being a catastrophe or having a potentially catastrophic outcome.
—Merriam Webster Dictionary
When a gradual downward trend (in biophysical health and wellbeing) goes into unstoppable decline: runaway, out of control; e.g. abrupt climate change (Michael Dowd)
- An uneven ending of industrial consumer modes of sustenance, shelter, security, health, security pleasure, identity, meaning. (Bendell, 2018)
- A large scale, irreversible process at the end of which basic needs (water, food, housing, clothing, energy etc.) can no longer be provided (at a reasonable cost) to the majority of the population by services under legal supervision. (Servigne and Stevens, 2015)
- the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery. “she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”
- strength in the face of pain or grief. “he fought his illness with great courage”
Quote: “COURAGE is a word that tempts us to think outwardly, to run bravely against opposing fire, to do something under besieging circumstance, and perhaps, above all, to be seen to do it in public, to show courage; to be celebrated in story, rewarded with medals, given the accolade, but a look at its linguistic origins leads us in a more interior direction and toward its original template, the old Norman French, Coeur, or heart. Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work, a future.
To be courageous, is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.
To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on. Whether we stay or whether we go – to be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.”
– David Whyte
- The largely unconscious habit of thought whereby we refuse to accept the reality of things that are bad or upsetting – or that challenge our worldview, our legacy, how we live, what is required of us, and/or our feelings of self-worth or superiority.
- The instinctual impulse to reject or discount information that calls into question our hopes, assumptions, or expectations about the future. (Michael Dowd)
1. A normal feeling of disgust or dread upon realizing that technological progress and economic growth and development are the root of our predicament, not our way out.
2. A name for the anxiety and fear called forth when living in a corrupt, dysfunctional civilization causing a mass extinction.
3. The mid-point between denial and regeneration . . . with or without us.
There is much discussion about ‘hope’ and many ways of framing it. Heres some:
From the book by Joanna Macy – https://www.activehope.info/
Active Hope is something we do rather than have. It involves being clear what we hope for and then playing our role in the process of moving that way. The journey of finding, and offering, our unique contribution to the Great Turning helps us to discover new strengths, open to a wider network of allies and experience a deepening of our aliveness. When our responses are guided by the intention to act for the healing of our world, the mess we’re in not only becomes easier to face, our lives also become more meaningful and satisfying.
― Joanna Macy
Not to be confused with Hopium, which, according to Michael Dowd, is:
- A comforting vision of the future that requires breaking the laws of physics, biology, or ecology.
- Addiction to impossible hopes.
- Irrational or unwarranted optimism that promises short-term pain relief but delivers disappointment and despair when reality inevitably bites.
- Any ‘hope’ that leads us to put off or not prioritize what matters most – individually and collectively
- Believing that the climate crisis can be ‘fixed’ of ‘solved’ by doubling down on the very things driving ecocide (Michael Dowd)
A population is in overshoot when it exceeds available carrying capacity. A population in overshoot may permanently impair the long-term productive potential of its habitat, reducing future carrying capacity. It may survive temporarily but will eventually crash as it depletes vital natural capital (resource) stocks. Carrying capacities are also dynamic, so a population that assumed it was sustainable might find itself in overshoot because underlying carrying capacity has been diminished (see carrying capacity)
- What opens up when we remember who we are and how we got here, accept the inevitable, honor our grief, and prioritize what is pro-future and soul-nourishing.
- A fierce and fearless reverence for life and expansive gratitude — even in the midst of abrupt climate mayhem and the runaway collapse of societal harmony, the health of the biosphere, and business as usual.
- Living meaningfully, compassionately, and courageously no matter what. (Michael Dowd)
How Everything Can Collapse, p. 128 Collapsology, Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens
“Safety is not the absence of threat—it is the presence of connection.” – Gabor Maté
We use the term to describe spaces where we can have challenging Courageous Conversations about difficult topics, involving rigorous inquiry from multiple perspectives, and still hold space for “respectful belonging” where we can appreciate one another as we live the questions together.
“The social field can be defined as the source conditions that give rise to patterns of thinking, conversing, and organizing in systems, which in turn produce practical results. In this way, the social field is the social system seen not only from the outside (the third-person view) but also from within (the first- and second- person views). A social field perspective addresses the less visible levels of individual, social and relational reality creation: the dynamics, processes and particularly the levels of awareness that underlie and shape the behavior we see more readily. It is a theoretical and practical innovation with significant implications for changing practice and taking a fresh look at what is needed to shift social systems.
Awareness-based systems change, therefore, is a process of co-inquiry into the deeper structures of the social systems—the source conditions—in order to see, sense and shift them.”
Source: Journal of Awareness Based Systems Change
“Trauma is not a flaw or a weakness. It is a highly effective tool of safety and survival. Trauma is also not an event. Trauma is the body’s protective response to an event – or a series of events – that it perceives as potentially dangerous.” Resmaa Meakem
As defined by Rittel and Webber, 1973:
- Wicked problems are difficult to define; there is no definitive formulation.
- Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
- Solutions to wicked problems are not true or false, but rather good or bad.
- There is no immediate and ultimate test for solutions.
- Every solution is a “one-shot operation”; there is no opportunity to learn by “trial-and-error”, and attempts may have irreversible effects.
- These problems do not have an enumerable set of possible and clear solutions.
- Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
- Every wicked problem may be a symptom of another problem.
- The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways.
- The planner has “no right to be wrong”, i.e., policymakers or planners are liable for the consequences of the solutions they generate, and the public have no tolerance or trust in initiatives that fail.”Wicked problems are socially and politically complex. They are associated with social pluralism (the multiple interests and values of stakeholders), institutional complexity, and scientific uncertainty due to fragmentation and gaps in knowledge. Institutional complexity is related to conflicting prescriptions from multiple institutional logics. Institutional complexity is widely discussed in the governance of SESs due to coordination and/or collaboration problems that give rise to conflicts where wickedness is frequently suspected. In fact, wicked problem analysis focuses on the role of stakeholder perceptions, values, and interests to explain how issues are scoped, priorities are set, and possible solutions are considered. When groups of actors are facing debatable issues, their interpretations of the environment, their definition of the problems, and their development of strategies are all related to their perceptions based on their different life experiences.” Source