We’ve heard many times that if we don’t change our ways, our civilization may be doomed. But such suggestions are often pushed aside. Nobody likes a whiner, as they say. And our society isn’t big on long-term thinking. Well, a new NASA-funded study provides quite the wake-up call, suggesting that civilization could indeed collapse due to unsustainable resource use and growing inequality in wealth. As the Guardian wrote:
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 civilizational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
The study, soon to be published in the journal Ecological Economics, identified five factors crucial to civilization’s survival: population, climate, water, agriculture, and energy. In all such cases of civilization collapse, these factors have converged to stretch “resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity,” and have caused a stratification of society into elites and “commoners,” the researchers wrote. And that is what is happening currently, they added.
The reseachers do point out, however, that worst-case scenarios are not inevitable, and that changes could prevent collapse, or even “pave the way” toward a sustainable civilization.
The Guardian concludes:
The NASA-funded [study] offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business–and consumers–to recognize that ‘business as usual’ cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.
You should really head over to the Guardian for the full story; it’s worth reading.