Interventions for

rapid global change


Interventions for Rapid Global Change

The Cascade Institute is a Canadian research center that addresses the full range of humanity’s converging environmental, economic, political, technological, and health crises. Using advanced methods to map and model complex global systems, we analyze the interactions between systemic risks, anticipate future crises and opportunities, and develop high-leverage interventions in social systems that could rapidly shift humanity’s course towards fair and sustainable prosperity.

Reports and Technical Papers

What is a global polycrisis?

Michael Lawrence, Scott Janzwood, and Thomas Homer-Dixon
September 16, 2022 • This discussion paper argues that the concept of “global polycrisis” provides a useful framework with which to understand and address major problems afflicting humanity today.

Deep Geothermal Superpower: Canada’s potential for a breakthrough in enhanced geothermal systems

Ian Graham, Ellen Quigley, Scott Janzwood, and Thomas Homer-Dixon
May 27, 2022 • This opportunity analysis makes the case that Canada can and should become the global leader in ultra-deep geothermal electricity production.

A call for an international research program on the risk of a global polycrisis

Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ortwin Renn, Johan Rockström, Jonathan F. Donges, and Scott Janzwood
March 8, 2022 • This paper calls for a research program to investigate this moment’s seemingly sharp amplification, acceleration, and synchronization of systemic risks.

What Happens When a Cascade of Crises Collide?

New York Times article by Thomas Homer-Dixon and Johan Rockström — Today’s mess is best understood as a global polycrisis—a term which implies that humanity is dealing with a complex knot of seemingly distinct but actually deeply entangled crises.

Every politically feasible pathway to net-zero requires a technological breakthrough

National Observer article by Scott Janzwood — Distrust of new technology runs deep in the climate movement. But we don’t have the critical green technologies we need to get us to net-zero by 2050 — and assuming we do is wishful thinking.

Putin isn’t bluffing about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine

Globe and Mail article by Thomas Homer-Dixon — Russian President Vladimir Putin is forcing the West to play a dangerous game of chicken, and he’s about to throw his steering wheel out the window.

A big bet on geothermal could help prevent a climate catastrophe

Globe and Mail article by Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ian Graham, and Ellen Quigley — A government-industry research and development partnership in ultradeep geothermal would be a “moonshot” project that Canadians could rally around.

The global systemic consequences of the Ukraine-Russia War: Part II

The second briefing of the Ukraine-Russia War Expert Panel — Whether Russia will use a tactical nuclear weapon depends on Putin’s psychology, his evolving assessment of his own capabilities, and what he considers to be an acceptable outcome.

Modern Monetary Theory is the new black, but we should brace for seeing red

Globe and Mail article by Michael Lawrence and Thomas Homer-Dixon — Modern monetary theory doesn’t in fact propose that governments can keep spending without consequence. The limit on government spending, though, is not government deficits but rising inflation.

14 lessons for social movement success

Amy Janzwood
January 21, 2022 • This Brief summarizes lessons from the academic literature for building successful social movements. It outlines several core insights with an eye on their practical application for social movements, advocacy campaigns, and their supporters.

Network dynamics of the pandemic shock: Three network shifts and why they matter

Jinelle Piereder
January 11, 2021 • This Brief analyzes three major shifts in humanity’s networks that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered or accelerated: (1) network centralization, (2) network fragmentation and reconfiguration, and (3) network formation. It then examines the impact of these shifts across economic, food, information, and governance systems.

The Roubini Cascade: Are we heading for a Greater Depression?

Michael Lawrence & Thomas Homer-Dixon
December 4, 2020 • This Brief develops a system map of Nouriel Roubini’s argument that the world is heading into a Greater Depression. It uses this visualization to highlight crucial features of his prediction.