Bradd Libby

a woman wearing a silk kimono robe

Dropping Silk Stockings Created an Oral Health Revolution (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 7)

For most of human history, it was not routine for people to brush their teeth. But by the 1960s, majorities of most Western countries had a daily oral hygiene routine. Because oral hygiene is so central to wider health, the mainstreaming of dental care had a huge impact on the global disease burden, reducing the …

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feast

The Shipping Container Disruption Helped End Famines (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 6)

Images from Unsplash by Spencer Davis and Avel Chuklanov   The basics of life – energy, minerals, water, food – are not evenly distributed around the world, so peace and prosperity depend strongly on the ability to move goods and people quickly and cheaply. That’s how a seemingly obscure technology revolution starting in the mid-1950s …

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The Coming Global Fertilizer Crisis – and How to Solve it (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 5)

A global food crisis is looming, with high natural gas prices driving up the cost of ammonia fertilizer and the war in Ukraine threatening this year’s crops from both there and Russia. The consequences of mishandling this crisis could be dire. Research by complexity theorist Yaneer Bar-Yam suggests that high food prices are directly connected …

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The Disruption of Slavery Unveils Fastest Path to End Today’s Wars (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 4)

We are now at a crossroads in history, and no path forward looks pleasant. The war in Ukraine is killing innocent civilians, disrupting lives, and shaking the markets in energy, food and other commodities, making us wonder how we let ourselves become so complacent in trading with Russia, whose government has shown such little respect …

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How Synthetic Industries Replaced Natural Sources and Transformed the World (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 3)

  When people figure out how to do something that previously only nature had done, this new technology can completely transform the possibility space for a sector while making old ways of doing things obsolete – and all in a surprisingly short period of time. While the time can be very long between when an …

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Emmanuel Macron, the President of France

France is Forgetting the Most Powerful Force in the Universe (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 2)

Europe is amid an energy crisis of epic proportions, with a shortage in the supply of fossil fuels causing painfully high energy prices. And today, French President Macron wants to revitalize nuclear to solve this challenge. But if you understand the pattern of disruption, you will see why this might not be so straightforward. When …

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a man in a cave

The Pattern of Disruption

The first in a new series about how the ‘pattern of disruption’ explains how our societies and economies change and evolve, and where they might be heading. It’s often assumed that ‘disruption’ is a uniquely modern phenomenon. But it’s not. Technology disruptions can be found at the heart of major societal and civilizational upheavals going …

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How Kevin Bacon Can Save the Planet and Regenerate the Earth

Decision-makers at the COP26 UN climate summit might do well to remind themselves of a game called ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’. Because only by understanding the interconnection of the world’s problems can we recognize how they can be rapidly solved by addressing them systemically at the root. Invented in the 1990s by three college …

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To Save the Rainforests, Stop Doing the Things That Are Destroying Them

Many scientists now believe that the Amazon is close to a tipping point, after which it would become a savanna rather than a rainforest. Instead of pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, it will start pumping them into the atmosphere, leading so-called flying rivers – bands of moisture in the air that bring rainfall …

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Air pollution endangers billions, but a handful of technologies can make air clean again this decade

You would probably not willingly drink contaminated water or eat rotten food. But every day billions of people breathe polluted air and do not stop to think twice about it. That’s why air pollution is slashing the lives of billions of people around the world by up to six years, according to a recent study …

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