The Ingenuity Gap: Can We Solve the Problems of the Future?


480 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-676-97296-9
DDC 303.49'09'05




Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T


The author of The Ingenuity Gap explores an explosive point in time
where humankind faces a crisis. The pace of change in today’s world is
dizzying. Solutions to world problems, the author argues, lag far behind
exponentially increasing needs.

The Oxford Universal Dictionary gives many definitions for
“ingenuity.” Those that come closest are “genius,” “wisdom,”
and “capacity for invention.” When combined with “gap,” this
word encapsulates the dilemma facing humankind today. As Homer Dixon
notes in his preface, current international problems range from
financial crises and global warming to pandemics of disease. Problems
cross boundaries of politics, economics, and many other spheres. Ongoing
changes are rapid and relentless. The clever title pinpoints the gaps
between available intelligence, possible solutions, necessary action,
and available time.

The text is structured in four long chapters: “How Are We Changing
Our Relationship to the World?,” “Do We Need More Ingenuity to Solve
the Problems of the Future?,” “Can We Supply the Ingenuity We
Need?,” and “White-Hot Landscapes.” The obvious answer to the
query posed in the second chapter is yes, we need more ingenuity, and
humans must attempt to solve pressing problems more quickly than ever
before. But is this possible, given the horrifying speed of multiplying
problems? Bolder reviewers than this one may admire the clarity and
courage with which Homer-Dixon outlines looming problems and crises, but
the fainthearted may feel like pulling the covers over their heads.


Homer-Dixon, Thomas F., “The Ingenuity Gap: Can We Solve the Problems of the Future?,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,