A model based study is full of gloom and doom: Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'? It makes our book Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World seem even more on the mark.
A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.For some of us, this is not even news. Read on below for more.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."
The study is very revealing:
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.Once more for some of us this is not news, but it it is but one more case of seeing the obvious. That such a study can come from the very science that is largely behind the anticipated collapse is somewhat reassuring.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:
"The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent."
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.
More important is thew ray of hope the model suggests:
The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:Nice to know that there is a solution. Simple it is not. The missing part here is how to get it done and in time.
"Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."
Once again, we don't really need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Every voice helps though.
4:38 PM PT: Thanks for getting this to the rec list. It needs to be seen and heeded.
A Minimal Model for Human and Nature