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Open AccessArticle

Adaptation to and Recovery from Global Catastrophe

Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, P.O. Box 85561, Seattle, WA 98145-1561, USA
Bard College Center for Environmental Policy, 30 Campus Rd, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1461-1479;
Received: 20 January 2013 / Revised: 28 January 2013 / Accepted: 19 March 2013 / Published: 28 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adaptation or Extinction)
Global catastrophes, such as nuclear war, pandemics and ecological collapse threaten the sustainability of human civilization. To date, most work on global catastrophes has focused on preventing the catastrophes, neglecting what happens to any catastrophe survivors. To address this gap in the literature, this paper discusses adaptation to and recovery from global catastrophe. The paper begins by discussing the importance of global catastrophe adaptation and recovery, noting that successful adaptation/recovery could have value on even astronomical scales. The paper then discusses how the adaptation/recovery could proceed and makes connections to several lines of research. Research on resilience theory is considered in detail and used to develop a new method for analyzing the environmental and social stressors that global catastrophe survivors would face. This method can help identify options for increasing survivor resilience and promoting successful adaptation and recovery. A key point is that survivors may exist in small isolated communities disconnected from global trade and, thus, must be able to survive and rebuild on their own. Understanding the conditions facing isolated survivors can help promote successful adaptation and recovery. That said, the processes of global catastrophe adaptation and recovery are highly complex and uncertain; further research would be of great value. View Full-Text
Keywords: risk; catastrophe; recovery; civilization; futures; resilience; expected value; space colonization; adaptation; preparation risk; catastrophe; recovery; civilization; futures; resilience; expected value; space colonization; adaptation; preparation
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Maher, T.M., Jr.; Baum, S.D. Adaptation to and Recovery from Global Catastrophe. Sustainability 2013, 5, 1461-1479.

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