OMEGA - The Resilience Funders Network

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The Global Polycrisis

The Global Polycrisis is the sum total of all stressors affecting planetary health.

It’s an unprecedented global systems problem. We need to understand it in order to respond as wisely as possible.

COVID-19 is a poster child for the fragility of global systems. Several dozen global stressors have created a “perfect storm” for humanity and the biosphere. OMEGA helps funders understand the Global Polycrisis. We can build deep resilience for the storms ahead.

Biosphere stressors

  • Climate crisis, sea-level rise & changing weather
  • Biodiversity loss rate 10,000 times normal
  • Toxification of all life & insect Armageddon
  • Ocean acidification, dead zones, plastics & depletion of fish & plankton
  • Declining & polluted fresh water
  • Depleted top soils, vanishing forests
  • Ozone depletion
  • COVID and future pandemics
  • Many more

Societal stressors

  • Poverty, racism & injustice
  • Unsustainable economic growth & debt
  • Vulnerable supply chains & power grids
  • Population overshoot, refugee crisis & resource competition
  • Pandemic diseases & fertility decline
  • Dysfunctional geopolitics & failing states
  • War, terrorism & nuclear threats
  • Many more

Technology stressors

  • Electromagnetic frequency (EMF) pollution
  • Uncontrolled technologies: artificial intelligence (AI), biotech, nanotech & robotics
  • Displacement of people by robots & AI
  • Cyber threats
  • Big Data threats to democracy, privacy & human rights
  • Modification of the human germline and bifurcation of the population
  • Many more

The greatest threat we face

The Global Polycrisis is far greater than any individual stressor. Non-governmental and civil society organizations play a critical role in social and environmental change. But most work on silo issues such as climate change or poverty. Few work on the Global Polycrisis.

Most philanthropy is also focused on silo issues. Philanthropy tends to overlook the Global Polycrisis—the greatest cumulative threat to humanity and the biosphere.

The consequences

Increasingly severe future shocks may lead to:

  • The spread of failed states.
  • Increasing numbers of desperate migrants.
  • Possible civilizational collapse.
  • Accelerating biospheric decline

If we prepare, these and other future shocks may prove survivable.

We could build a greener and more just world on the remains of the old order.

Let’s not think about it

People give four good reasons not to think about the Global Polycrisis.

  • It’s too overwhelming to think about.
  • I can’t see how to make a difference.
  • I want to focus on things we can change.
  • I just scarcely get by day by day.

We understand. We’re not here to argue. We’re here to talk to the people who do want to think about it.

Good news and real hope

The Global Polycrisis won’t go away. But there are reasons for hope.

OMEGA is hopeful. Whatever the future may hold, we are committed to human service and the community of life on earth. 

OMEGA

OMEGA focuses on the Global Polycrisis.

OMEGA is a learning community, not a funder affinity group in the usual sense.

We’re not trying to change your decisions on resources or mobilize collective funding for specific initiatives.

We just think the Global Polycrisis is worthy of consideration.

We welcome a wide range of views from across the global spectrum of perspectives and opinions.

And we welcome your interest.

EVENTS

Previous Events

The Coming Population Implosion

Chemicals, Declining Fertility and the Polycrisis. With Shanna H. Swan, PhD & Pete Myers, PhD

What happens in Texas, won’t stay in Texas

An exploration of the interconnected nature of these cascading crises.
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The Global Challenge

Education, empowerment, employment and economics: tools for building a promising future. With Ashok Khosla
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Love in a Ghastly Time

Summertime in Winter ​with Akwasi Aidoo, poet, human rights and peace advocate.
ghastly hands reaching for the ground
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Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

Guests: Paul Ehrlich, Joan Diamond, Gerardo Ceballos, Nate Hagens, and Bill Rees Host: Michael Lerner
hand dripping water onto plant

“The World that Food Made” with Raj Patel

Raj Patel is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and academic with voluminous experience and expertise in understanding and seeking change in food systems.

“2020-2030–Navigating a Path Between Fantasy and Doom–A Top Down Overview”: a webinar with Nate Hagens

July 30th, 2020

Resources for Resilience invites you to a webinar with Nate Hagens, a widely respected public intellectual on the big picture issues facing human society.

Nate’s most recent work has focused on how we navigate through this period of COVID, and in the face of an increasing likelihood of serious economic hardship. He has been meeting with civil society and influential members of the US congress about how to strengthen society, and how to strategically approach top down and bottom up solutions, and where the two can meet.

OMEGA webinar with grassroots community organizers

Isabel Castillo, Ebony Guy, Duane Edwards and Russel Chisholm will be in conversation with Shorey Myers

Co-hosted by Virginia Organizing, Foresight Analysis Nexus (FAN), The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB), and The Resilience Project (TRP)

July 15, 2020

While the Global Challenges faced by OMEGA are wide-ranging, the impacts are concretely felt by communities on the front lines. Three grassroots organizers working on issues including racism, climate change, and extractive industries share their views on the Global Challenges, the impacts felt by communities, and the intersectional work needed to accelerate our transition to a just, sustainable and resilient world.

Farming and eating during times of  COVID19

Miguel Altieri in conversation with Michael Lerner

Co-hosted by Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) and the Crans Foresight Analysis Consensus

June 10, 2020

Miguel Altieri is a world leader in transforming our relationship with  agriculture and food. He taught agroecology and urban agriculture at UC Berkeley for 37 years and serves as guest professor in numerous Universities in Latin America, Spain and Italy. He has conducted most of his research in California and Latin America, working closely with farmers on implementing principles of agroecology to design productive, biodiverse and resilient farming systems.

COVID-19: Learning from the crisis and reimaging the future for environment and climate challenges.

Sunita Narain in conversation with Michael Lerner.

May 27, 2020

The Omega Collaborative hosted a webinar with Sunita Narain, a leading Indian activist and environmentalist on May 27th.  Narain is a world-renowned Indian writer and environmentalist, known for using knowledge and compassion for social transformation. She is recognized as one of the leading voices for fundamental science-based humanitarian change, valued for her honesty and ability to work with tribal communities in India, senior government officials, and international leaders. Her influence is welcomed throughout the global south, across Asia and the western world. In 2016, Time magazine included her in their list of the most influential people in the world.

Are we in the omega phase of the adaptive cycle? with Thomas Homer Dixon

May 13, 2020

The Omega Collaborative hosted a webinar with Thomas Homer Dixon on May 13, 2020. Homer Dixon is a Canadian professor of political science and one of the world’s widest read public intellectuals in the field of the global security. The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, has influenced millions, appealing to senior thought leaders and millennials alike. Recently he launched the Cascade Institute “..a centre addressing the full range of humanity’s converging environmental, economic, political and technological crises.”

His talk addresses the Upside of Down, his forthcoming book Commanding Hope, and the Cascade Institute.

Download presentation slides.

Anticipatory Preparedness and Resilience in a Time of Escalating Risk with David Korowicz

April 9, 2020

Dr. David Korowicz is a physicist and human systems ecologist. He has over a decade of experience working on large-scale and catastrophic risk. This has included work on the socio-economic impacts of pandemics and constraints on oil production, financial system failure, and integrated analysis of civilizational risk. Until recently he worked with the Geneva Global Initiative; he is now working on preparedness and resilience planning arising from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

COVID-19 Crisis Webinar with Nafeez Ahmed

April 1, 2020

Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed addressed a framework by which we can understand and respond to the COVID-19 crisis while anticipating its consequences and preparing for what’s next. OMEGA Advisory Board members engaged Dr. Ahmed in conversation.

Dr. Ahmed is an award-winning investigative journalist, systems theorist and change strategist. He is ‘system shift’ columnist at VICE where he reports on global system transformation and founding editor of the crowdfunded platform INSURGE-intelligence. He previously reported on the interconnections of global environment, energy and economic crises for The Guardian via his ‘Earth insight’ Guardian blog. His reporting can also be found in The Times, The Independent, The Atlantic, Quartz, Foreign Policy, New York Observer, Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, and elsewhere. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization (Pluto, 2010), the first peer-reviewed social science study integrating a systems approach to climate, energy, food, economy, war, terror and state-militarisation, and Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence (Springer-Nature, 2017). Nafeez is a research fellow at the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems and a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts. The Evening Standard has twice include him on its list of the top 1,000 most influential Londoners.

Richard Heinberg – Real Community Resilience 2020 – 2040

March 16, 2020
Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute is one of the visionary thinkers of our time on community resilience. The New School host Michael Lerner chatted with Richard in a searching exploration of building community resilience for the coming turbulent decades.

The Resilience Gathering

June 6, 2019

The New School at Commonweal hosted The Resilience Gathering, including keynote speakers Nate Hagens and Joanna Macy, leading authorities in the field. They engaged several dozen participants on these questions:

  • Can we avoid civilizational collapse?
  • Can we “bend” and not “break”?
  • We face a “perfect storm” of interacting global stressors. Is resilience a possible response?
  • What does real resilience look like?

Nate Hagens gives the keynote speech at The Resilience Gathering

Joanna Macy presents at The Resilience Gathering

We continue to host and participate in resilience gatherings with our partners.

Regrettably, our planned November 1, 2019, gathering was cancelled due to wildfires and power outages in Northern California. The irony is not lost on us.