I've never been much a “fan” of anything or anyone for the sake of boosterism. Not sports teams, rock stars, actors or political teams. A by-product of 20 years as a cynical journalist I suppose. However, the upside of being a journalist is that you get the chance to meet, interview and photograph a lot of smart people doing facinating things beyond the mundane and you can't help but admire and respect them for their actions, leadership, intelligence or clear vision.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, left, didn't know it when I took him aside for a photograph at the NOIA conference last week but I have been a “fan” of his work for a long time. I have followed his work in the areas of political science, international affairs and conflict studies for a number of years. His work should be bookshelves of every journalist coving these issues. These days it's a rare thing to find someone who brings intelligent analyis and observation to the table without the filter of political ideology or partisan objectives. At an energy conference where the speakers were the major players in the industry Mr. Dixon's address on climate change, economics and the impact and role of oil in human development was, by far, the most interesting and eye opening presentation.
He received his B.A. in political science from Carleton University in 1980 and his Ph.D. from MIT in international relations and defense and arms control policy in 1989. He then moved to the University of Toronto to lead several research projects studying the links between environmental stress and violence in developing countries. Recently, his research has focused on threats to global security in the 21st century and on how societies adapt to complex economic, ecological, and technological change.
His books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization (Knopf, Island Press, 2006), which won the 2006 National Business Book Award, The Ingenuity Gap (Knopf, 2000), which won the 2001 Governor General's Non-fiction Award, and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence (Princeton University Press, 1999), which won the Caldwell Prize of the American Political Science Association.