This is the end (or is it?)

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by CitroenSM, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. Quote from ;

    Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?
    Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system

    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 Motesharrei 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."

    The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:

    "Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use."

    Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.

    Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:

    ".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."

    Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."

    In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."

    Applying this lesson to our contemporary predicament, the study warns that:

    "While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory 'so far' in support of doing nothing."

    However, the scientists point out that the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, and suggest that appropriate policy and structural changes could avoid collapse, if not pave the way toward a more stable civilisation.

    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:

    "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."

    The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business - and consumers - to recognise that 'business as usual' cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.

    Although the study is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused studies - by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance - have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a 'perfect storm' within about fifteen years. But these 'business as usual' forecasts could be very conservative.

    Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed
  2. This article is probably true
  3. yeah , I don't know about the timeline , but i'm sure at some point (hopefully not in the next 60-100 years) well have some major collapse.
  4. #$%#ing alarmists

    bla bla bla everything will go bad bla bla bla the world sucks bla bla bla
  5. The way we live is a bit unsustainable, and I'm sure these cycles are just getting shorter and shorter due to population growth. But yeah, the article sounds a bit "compelling to antipimpage's interests", if you know what I mean.
  6. i like cars
  7. Who is using this account now?
  8. yarly
  9. Negre since when has any society in recorded history been "sustainable"?

    "Advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent"... ORLY?

    Wealth distribution between the industrialized and developing world is more equal than ever before the industrial revolution. Wealth distribution among the citizens of the developed world is massively more equal than it was 50 or 100 years ago.

    Many piss poor countries have joined the ranks of the developed/industrialized/-ing world since the end of WW2. Finland was pretty 3rd world before WW2 and some time after that. South Korea had Sub-Saharan GDP/capita in the 60's. In the 70's some people in Xi'an still lived in caves ffs. I can't honestly name a society where the standard of living would have been better 100 or 200 years ago, save some Papua-New Guinean tribe.

    The Chinese society and most European and Middle-Eastern ones survived the Black Death without collapsing. Think about that.
  10. The cycles are getting shorter due in no small part to the deregulation of the finance industry. If we re-instated Glass-Stegall and showed that we were unwilling to bail out large financial institutions (at least without significant consequences to the people running them), you'd see the world markets stabilize considerably.
  11. Oh please do
  12. The ideas of 'too big to fail' and that governments can save the economy with monetary stimulus have been incredibly disastrous, and have only ensured the accelerated transfer of society's wealth from the middle class to the financial class. A totally unsustainable system, even within a 10-year time frame.

    Combine that with rising energy prices, global ecological strain and rising world population... all the ingredients are here for some serious turmoil.

  13. I'm just going to pretend that this thread is about the film, "This is the End," which I enjoyed very much.
  14. Muse - This is the end.mp3
  15. #18 c7015, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
  16. Many of us would like that very much. A lot of money would like it not to be, though, so don't hold your breath. It also doesn't have to be Glass-Stegall, either. It could be any new legislation that keeps investment and commercial banks separate. I can totally believe that much of Glass-Stegall was outdated, but I think we threw the baby out with the bathwater with that one.
  17. #20 nappyjb37, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    There are a couple examples of countries with very stable, conservative banking systems that don't distinguish between investment banking and commercial banking. In fact, I believe that the United States is the exception in making that distinction. Geographically large banks with diverse portfolios (ie: one which provides both commercial and investment banking services across a whole country) have historically been extremely robust, given appropriate political and democratic tools.

    Some major contributors to extremely powerful regulators, however, are not present in the United States. Banking authority is fragmented between the state and federal levels, and populist measures and special interests can be extremely successful. A hypothetical economic idea can 'state-hop', or decide an election that totally reforms the regulator.

    For an interesting read on how the speed of a democracy can affect banking stability, there is this conference paper (although it does focus heavily on the US-Canada comparison):
  18. somehow I knew Vanilla Ice was not here to talk about Puff Daddy
  19. #22 nappyjb37, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    What about Puff Daddy being a raving lunatic while Biggie predicts his own death? On the topic of finality.

  20. The western empire needs a bit of a reset. I'll explain why.

    1) Safety regulations. We have too many of them, and its costing the bottom line of a companies ability to turn profit. These safety requirements also make it extremely difficult to start a small business. Thus leaving big corporations and banks of lawyers the 'control'.
    2) Unions. Most labor laws in the western world came from Unions. that we have laws that protect workers that actually work, there is no need for Unions to be a 'middle man' making money on the side. Bad for business, and... well, they shut down detroit pretty good.
    3) Loaning borrowed fake money to mcdonalds employees to purchase a $500,000 house. AKA, the US banking system. They saw debt as a good way to make money, assuming everyone wants to live forever paying a premium to the bank, and nothing wrong can ever happen.
    4) Patent Trolls, and evil Lawyers. They need to be sent to Japan to fix the reactor problem. These types of lawyers are the ones that protect bad business, or create laws and regulations that hurt small business, or allow them, and investors to get wealthy for doing nothing at all.
    5) Education. There is no use for post seconday education in fields of study where there is no jobs or future for. I love the arts, but I believe an engineer that also studies arts is a good thing. People that get a BA in Art History... shut the #$%# up about government not supplying you with a future. Our Education system US/Canada also needs to stop selling kids a dream. I remember back 14 years ago headhunters for Vancouver Film School trying desperately to get me to go to my bank to take out a loan and do some animation. Wouldn't that be nice. Go $80,000 in debt out of highschool into an industry flooded by people that think they are going to get into Pixar. Our education system sells nightmares, not dreams. Glad I dodged that one.
    6) Government Control. Government should only tax people, provide national defense, and create logistics to help the private sector of a country. THAT IS IT. No central edcation, no central health care, no hand-outs. The private sector can manage this way better, and has.
    7) Minimum wage. People everywhere are saying the minimum wage needs to increase. THIS IS BAD. This is just another socialst method into thinking that if you pay people more money, society will be better. This, along with logistics costs is why everything costs twice as much as it did 10 years ago. Free enterprise has a natural way of correcting itself so all benefit that put into it.... LEAVE IT ALONE, STOP TELLING BUSINESSES WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO.

    There. I solved the western world.
  21. Wouldn't say so. Europe and Japan never had any legislation that separated investment banks from commercial ones. If we compare all three financial systems in the 1950s-1980s era they were all rather equally stable (no significant divergence anyway).
  22. #25 adhweorniatweege3532323, Mar 19, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Oh definitely. Most countries that don't control their own monetary policy beyond fixation to a foreign standard don't differentiate either. I just don't think the tools to properly regulate banks with combined investment and commercial services are available in the US, which speaks to your second paragraph. Some states, such as my own, have an initiative system which, while certainly flawed, allows for a quicker democracy. Many states do not, and I fear the problem may then be only addressable at the Federal level.

    I'm fully open to other solutions, I just think reseparation may be the fastest and most efficient in our political and social climate.

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