Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NASA Study Points to Collapse of Civilization

A new study funded by NASA suggests that we're facing the collapse of industrial civilization within decades due to a combination of factors evaluated using a cross-disciplinary model, HANDY (Human And Nature DYnamical). Factors that were weighed in the study include: population, climate, water, agriculture, and Energy. Rather than being a rare occurrence, the study points to earlier historical precedents that show that "precipitous collapse" has been common in human history and the results often last centuries. The study has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics

In evaluating the factors using the HANDY methodology, the study noted:
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."
Will technology save us? The authors were skeptical:
"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."
The conclusion: our "business as usual" approach cannot be sustained and governments, corporations, and consumers need to adapt and change to keep our worldwide civilization intact and functioning.