Here’s How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse

Too much inequality and too few natural resources could leave the West vulnerable to a Roman Empire-style fall.

National Journal
Alex Brown
March 18, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

Few think West­ern civil­iz­a­tion is on the brink of col­lapse — but it’s also doubt­ful the Ro­mans and Meso­pot­ami­ans saw their own de­mise com­ing either.

If we’re to avoid their fate, we’ll need policies to re­duce eco­nom­ic in­equal­ity and pre­serve nat­ur­al re­sources, ac­cord­ing to a NASA-fun­ded study that looked at the col­lapses of pre­vi­ous so­ci­et­ies.

“Two im­port­ant fea­tures seem to ap­pear across so­ci­et­ies that have col­lapsed,” reads the study. “The stretch­ing of re­sources due to the strain placed on the eco­lo­gic­al car­ry­ing ca­pa­city and the eco­nom­ic strat­i­fic­a­tion of so­ci­ety in­to Elites and Masses.”

In un­equal so­ci­et­ies, re­search­ers said, “col­lapse is dif­fi­cult to avoid…. Elites grow and con­sume too much, res­ult­ing in a fam­ine among Com­mon­ers that even­tu­ally causes the col­lapse of so­ci­ety.”

As lim­ited re­sources plague the work­ing class, the wealthy, in­su­lated from the prob­lem, “con­tin­ue con­sum­ing un­equally” and ex­acer­bate the is­sue, the study said.

Mean­while, re­sources con­tin­ue to be used up, even by the tech­no­lo­gies de­signed to pre­serve them. For in­stance, “an in­crease in vehicle fuel ef­fi­ciency tech­no­logy tends to en­able in­creased per cap­ita vehicle miles driv­en, heav­ier cars, and high­er av­er­age speeds, which then neg­ate the gains from the in­creased fuel-ef­fi­ciency,” the study said.

The re­search­ers used what they termed a Hu­man And Nature DY­nam­ic­al (HANDY) for­mula to reach their con­clu­sions. The for­mula uses factors such as birth rates, re­sources, and in­come classes to cre­ate a math­em­at­ic­al equa­tion to pro­ject out­comes.

The study was sponsored by NASA’s God­dard Space Flight Cen­ter and headed by the Na­tion­al Sci­ence Found­a­tion’s Safa Mote­shar­rei.

For those who think mod­ern so­ci­ety is im­mune from the prob­lems that brought down an­cient civil­iz­a­tions, a “brief over­view of col­lapses demon­strates not only the ubi­quity of the phe­nomen­on, but also the ex­tent to which ad­vanced, com­plex and power­ful so­ci­et­ies are sus­cept­ible to col­lapse,” the study said.

So how do we save ourselves? “Col­lapse can be avoided, and pop­u­la­tion can reach a steady state at the max­im­um car­ry­ing ca­pa­city, if the rate of de­ple­tion of nature is re­duced to a sus­tain­able level, and if re­sources are dis­trib­uted equit­ably,” reads the re­port.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4769) }}

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×