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Abstract: Two features of the modern world economy have become abundantly clear. First, its component parts are now so densely interconnected that disturbances reverberate quickly, sometimes catastrophically, right around the globe. And second, the ever-bigger world economy is now bumping up against, and in some cases breaching constraints imposed by the finitude of the planetary bio-geosphere. Modeling human society on Earth as a complex adaptive system illuminates the role that global governance can play with respect to both of these issues. In the first case, complex adaptive systems analysis tells us that excessive connectivity in the economy, and in human society on Earth more generally, causes brittleness and reduced resilience. A loosening up of excessive connectively and a shift toward decentralization and localized self-sufficiency will improve resilience, but will also promote fragmentation; thus the need for global governance will be amplified to ensure overall systemic coherence and ecological sustainability. In the second case, a close look at the property of ‘emergence’ in complex adaptive systems suggests that human society on Earth is endowed with an evolving‘ collective consciousness’ which, at this early stage of its development, is vulnerable to momentary impulses, unreflective behaviour, and simplistic ideas. One such idea that growth is good and more is better has been institutionalized as a non-negotiable political commitment to economic growth, forming the core principle of modern global governance. This essay revisits the problem of global governance, suggesting that closer attention to the world of ideas and principles can foster a more mature shared worldview not premised on the lethal illogic of perpetual economic growth.