Sunday, March 16, 2014

NASA-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?


guardian | 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. 

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 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.

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.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."

Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
"... accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels."

7 comments:

BigDonOne said...

Kunstler weighed in on this issue few days ago on Chris Martenson's (pay money for the good stuff) blog...

This much was free---> http://kunstler.com/other-stuff/are-you-crazy-to-continue-believing-in-collapse/http://kunstler.com/other-stuff/are-you-crazy-to-continue-believing-in-collapse/

CNu said...

That's exceptionally well-written. Ironic how everything anyone has to say on this topic is becoming asymptotic to Hypertiger.

BigDonOne said...

Interesting juxtaposition of text, and ad, at http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/19-signs-that-the-u-s-consumer-is-tapped-out .......(image clipped below)

CNu said...

lol, I believe the ad targets the browser...,

woodensplinter said...

What the Daily Impact said about this study http://www.dailyimpact.net/2014/03/15/nasa-study-irreversible-collapse-likely/ t is apparently still a law, written somewhere and enforced somehow, that no matter how fully you demonstrate that the practices of the industrial overlords are taking civilization itself over a cliff, you must end with a Pollyannish song of optimism, and this brutally honest and unflinching study is no exception. All we have to do, it says in conclusion, to avoid the end of the world as we know it, is change immediately the behavior of everyone on the planet to reduce their consumption to a sustainable level, and make the distribution of profits equitable.”

Oh, good. I was afraid it was going to be hard.

BigDonOne said...

OK, even more fortunate BD clipped it when it happened.....

CNu said...

Hardly, you've probably picked up some obamaphone cooties at white net daily. (oops, my bad, meant "world" net daily)

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