Ecology and Society 2015, 20(3): 6
by Thomas Homer-Dixon, Brian Walker, Reinette Biggs, Anne-Sophie Crépin, Carl Folke, Eric F. Lambin, Garry D. Peterson, Johan Rockström, Marten Scheffer, Will Steffen, and Max Troell
Recent global crises reveal an emerging pattern of causation that could increasingly characterize the birth and progress of future global crises. A conceptual framework identifies this pattern’s deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes. The framework shows how multiple stresses can interact within a single social-ecological system to cause a shift in that system’s behavior, how simultaneous shifts of this kind in several largely discrete social-ecological systems can interact to cause a far larger intersystemic crisis, and how such a larger crisis can then rapidly propagate across multiple system boundaries to the global scale. Case studies of the 2008-2009 financial-energy and food-energy crises illustrate the framework. Suggestions are offered for future research to explore further the framework’s propositions.