Forum Thread

Nasa-funded study warns of ‘collapse of civilisation’ in coming decades

Reply to ThreadDisplaying 6 Posts
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    I guess this is not much of a surprise. The elites and the privileged were always going to go to the edge and fall off it at some stage. They almost did in 2008.

    Modern civilisation is heading for collapse within a matter of decades because of growing economic instability and pressure on the planet’s resources, according to a scientific study funded by Nasa.

    Using theoretical models to predict what will happen to the industrialised world over the course of the next century or so, mathematicians found that even with conservative estimates things started to go very badly, very quickly.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/nasafunded-study-warns-of-collapse-of...

    Chillingly, it's not only NASA that is forecasting this:

    This is not the first time scientists have tried to warn us of potentially impending global disaster. Last year it emerged that Stephen Hawking and a team of Britain's finest minds are drawing up a “doomsday list” of the catastrophic low-risk (but high-impact) events that could devastate the world.

    Unfortunately, the Independent article does not describe how this will likely happen, or whether suddenly or gradually. My guess is that resource shortages (water is the most likely candidate) will put pressure on large populations to aggressively migrate somewhere more congenial. Just as they have throughout history. Another strong possibility is a catastrophic collapse in the global financial system and competition for whatever's left over.

    Ideas?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    letshavelunch --

    An excellent topic for discussion and thanks for sharing the NASA link. Of course there is no shortage of books and articles on how our society might collapse as it can no longer support itself due to lack of food and water resources caused by changes in the climate. Jared Diamond examined how that happened in the past in his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Diamond examines the reasons ancient civilizations collapsed as well how some of the same factors are causing social and political turmoil with modern day events. His book has since generated much debate and criticism from some who felt that he was less than accurate in his portrayal of life in these ancient societies. For example, the descendents of the ancestral Pueblans of Arizona and New Mexico take issue in his reporting of finding evidence of cannibalism in the ruins of Chaco Canyon.

    Laurence Smith's 2010 book, The World in 2050, also is an eye opener. Smith relies on computer projections of how the population demographics will shift with Climate Change assuming extrapolation of current trends into the future. His book has also been both praised and ridiculed.

    I see these and other books and articles on the subject as a stimulus for critical thinking and not necessarily a prescription. NASA has engaged in that critical thinking as well as the Pentagon in planning how to react to social unrest brought on by climate change. In a sense the events in Syria are partially due to drought.

    Brad Plumber, Washington Post, September 10, 2013: Drought helped cause Syria’s war. Will climate change bring more like it?

    In the period between 2006 and 2011 up to 60 percent of Syria's land experienced one of the worst long-term droughts in modern history culminating in a revolt that started in Daraa and has since escalated into a civil war.

    From the WP article:

    "We found it very interesting that right up to the day before the revolt began in Daraa, many international security analysts were essentially predicting that Syria was immune to the Arab Spring. They concluded it was generally a stable country. What they had missed was that a massive internal migration was happening, mainly on the periphery, from farmers and herders who had lost their livelihoods completely.

    "Around 75 percent of farmers suffered total crop failure, so they moved into the cities. Farmers in the northeast lost 80 percent of their livestock, so they had to leave and find livelihoods elsewhere. They all moved into urban areas — urban areas that were already experiencing economic insecurity due to an influx of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. But this massive displacement mostly wasn't reported. So it wasn't factoring into various security analyses. People assumed Syria was relatively stable compared to Egypt."


    What is happening in Syria could be a prelude for other parts of the world as climate change alters the landscape and especially a people's ability to feed themselves. It's happened before in history and it's happening now in some areas of the world. When it becomes global we should all worry.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Makes my head hurt to think about the multitude of ways that humanity is potentially squandering away its future home. If you want another take on the issue of natural resource depletion, I have to recommend 'Collapse', a documentary by Michael Ruppert. The basics of the documentary are based around a familiar scary topic, Peak Oil. Check out the preview (may we as a people be ultimately smart and shrewd enough to avoid such a fate):

  • Other Party
    Nebraska
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    And how long have people been predicting the end of the world?

    As long as there have been people.

    If our society lasts another 100 or 1000 years, there will still be people predicting the end of the world.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
    Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    jamesn Wrote: And how long have people been predicting the end of the world?

    As long as there have been people.

    If our society lasts another 100 or 1000 years, there will still be people predicting the end of the world.
    The end of world WILL happen someday. Just a matter of when and how, with the story of humanity anyways. As for the earth, seems a foregone conclusion that once our sun supernovas, earth go bye bye.. this is all temporary. Yes, I agree, its kinda annoying to see predictions come and go. But, that doesn't mean there isn't valid concerns to gleam from top officials in scientific research that point to an end point, if we don't change our ways. We are the first species (that we are aware of) on Earth that seems to able to play with our fate on a mass survival scale, time line wise. The dinosaurs had nothing to do with the asteroid that wiped them out. As a species, humans over-use and irresponsible handling of the environment and its resource base will change our expiration date, no doubt. The hope is that we innovate and create new ways to handle the issues, as opposed to sticking our heads in the sand while we suck the Earth dry.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    We have to distinguish between end-of-human-world events and, as the NASA boffins put it, and end-of-modern-civilisation events.

    End-of-world events include stuff like a massive asteroid collision, a rampant new disease, global nuclear war.

    End-of-modern-civilisation events would be of lesser scale - typically, drought and famine, civil war on a large scale, financial and economic meltdown, large-scale national wars, gradual decline through uncontrollable diseases.

    I think NASA is talking about the second. And probably about a convergence of man-made and natural catastrophes to have the necessary effect.

    A civil war that would have huge ramifications outside national borders would be a 2nd American civil war. And I don't see one as unlikely. There are just so many touchpapers - even that old favourite: religion - for civil unrest to scale itself into armed conflict. And, let's face it, the American are the most heavily-armed population on the planet, so it would not be a slow escalation or a small war.

    Peak oil is far less likely. Oil consumption is slowing. The planet still has vast reserves exploitable by new methods. New exploration reveals new deposits. Even a place like New Zealand is being scoured for deep-sea oil fields. Besides which, alternative energies are becoming more popular. Led, funnily enough, by the Chinese. I would expect a gradual but successful transition from fossil fuels to new energies.

    But the most likely seems to be the degradation of the ability of modern medicines to control disease. Led by the already-growing disease immunities to antibiotics.

    That or a similar "disease" scenario developed purposefully by the cyber warfare fraternity. The opportunity for miscalculation and unintended consequences in that arena are huge.