Modeling the End of Civilization

Working with a framework that incorporates mathematical analysis, social science, and observation of natural phenomena, the ‘Human And Nature Dynamical’ (HANDY) model projects “business as usual” could lead to the end of industrialized civilization. Accepted for publication in the Elsevier Journal of Ecological Economics, the study finds ample historical evidence that overpopulation, failing agriculture, limited access to water, energy consumption, and the unequal distribution of wealth could all combine to spell the end for society as we know it…

The researchers believe that humanity is on a collision course with disaster, and they outline two likely scenarios. In the first, everything will appear to be fine for a short period of time, but eventually a small number of Elites will begin to deplete everyone’s resources. Even under the most “conservative” consumption rates, the Elites will take too much and cause a famine amongst the Masses and later themselves. In this model, society is sabotaged by human rather than natural forces. In an alternate future, the faster consumption of resources wipes out the Masses in a short period while the Elites still survive, but soon after disappear. In both situations, the Masses get hit harder and faster while the upper echelons fail to adjust their behavior until it is too late.”

6 responses to “Modeling the End of Civilization

  1. yeah thanks for posting this remember when it came out there was some back and forth over the reporting of it but not much engagement with the actual content which raises some interesting questions about the public utility of models.
    some irony in the linked post being on a site devoted to the idea that design will save the planet, never mind the politics I guess…
    ps hope you don’t mind the illustration I added, pls feel free to erase.

  2. Yeah, but like the Maya didn’t have PS4’s, man…

    I remember this one interview Charlie Rose did with Lee Raymond regarding the future of oil and the problem of resource depletion. He nailed it on the head – it’s eerie, in retrospect, how accurate his predictions were.

    There’s no model for what we’re undergoing because there are no precedents. No analogues, no data.

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