The stories running our heads influence everything from our beliefs to our values to our actions.
Articles: collapse of complex civilizations (11)
As my regular readers know, I’ve been talking for quite a while now here about the speculative bubble that’s built up around the fracking phenomenon, and the catastrophic bust that’s guaranteed to follow so vast and delusional a boom.
The real story is one of thousands of years of accelerating population growth, ruthless greed, countless wars, enormous suffering, and catastrophic ecocide.
Of all the differences that separate the feudal economy sketched out in last week’s post from the market economy most of us inhabit today, the one that tends to throw people for a loop most effectively is the near-total absence of money in everyday medieval life.
The ancient Maya provide an example of a complex social-ecological system which developed impressively before facing catastrophic reorganization.
The illusion of invincibility is far and away the most important asset a mature ruling elite has, because it discourages deliberate attempts at regime change from within.
It’s one thing to suggest, as I did in last week’s post here, that North America a few centuries from now might have something like five per cent of its current population. It’s quite another thing to talk about exactly whose descendants will comprise that five per cent.
Civilizations normally leave a damaged environment behind them when they fall, and ours shows every sign of following that wearily familiar pattern.
Mathematical models may be a lot of fun, but when you use them to project the future of our civilization the results may be a bit unpleasant, to say the least.
The recent announcement of a paper by Motessharrry, Rivas and Kalnay (MRK) on the collapse of complex societies has generated much debate, especially with the publication of an enthusiastic comment by Nafeez Ahmed who defined it a "NASA-funded" study.