The polycrisis emerged as a global phenomenon in 2022-2023.  Dozens of environmental, social, technological, and economic stressors are interacting with increasing velocity. Their combined impact is causing unpredictable future shocks of greater intensity.

Is this really something new? Millions have lived in polycrisis conditions for millennia. Is it new for the world as a whole? Experts differ but most think it is something new in terms of the number and intensity of intersecting forces and the chaos they are creating.

What is the polycrisis? The climate emergency, Covid-19, the Ukraine War, artificial intelligence, record numbers of migrants, and deep uncertainty about the future are examples.

The polycrisis looks and feels different everywhere.  So it won’t have a single name or explanation. Biologists speak of “the 6th great extinction.” Politicians describe “cascading crises.” In Latin America it’s called “eco-social collapse.” The French speak of “collapsologie.” Others call it “the Great Unraveling,” “the Great Turning,” “the Great Simplification,” or “the end of the world as we know it.” 

We can’t escape the polycrisis–simply put, it is life as we know it in these times. We can seek to reduce the impacts of these intersecting crises and develop more positive outcomes. Whatever comes, we inevitably need to navigate it.


A polycrisis is not just a situation where you face multiple crises. It is a situation…where the whole is even more dangerous than the sum of the parts.

Adam Tooze

Interconnected Stressors


  • Climate crisis
  • Sea-level rise, ocean warming, plankton depletion, overfishing
  • Changing weather patterns
  • Biodiversity loss rate 10,000 times normal
  • Toxification of all life
  • Insect Armageddon
  • Ocean acidification, dead zones
  • Plastics pollution
  • Depletion of fish & plankton
  • Declining fresh water
  • Water pollution
  • Depleted topsoils
  • Vanishing forests
  • Ozone depletion
  • COVID and future pandemics


  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • Social injustice
  • Population growth
  • Resource scarcity
  • Refugee crises
  • Pandemics
  • Fertility decline
  • Dysfunctional geopolitics
  • Failing states
  • War & nuclear threats
  • Terrorism
  • Vulnerable power grids

Financial & Economic

  • Inflation
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Externalizing environmental & social costs
  • The global debt overhang
  • Unparalleled quantitative easing
  • Inequality built into the global system
  • Unsustainable economic growth


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