Human societies use complexity – within their institutions and
technologies – to address their various problems, and they need
high-quality energy to create and sustain this complexity. But now
greater complexity is producing diminishing returns in wellbeing, while
the energetic cost of key sources of energy is rising fast.
Simultaneously, humankind’s problems are becoming vastly harder, which
requires societies to deliver yet more complexity and thus consume yet
more energy. Resolving this paradox is the central challenge of the 21st
Thomas Homer-Dixon holds the CIGI Chair of Global Systems at the
Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and is a
Professor at the University of Waterloo.