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Societal Collapse - More Fear Porn, or the Next Step in Demographics?



It seems that societal collapse is back in discussion again. If you’ve followed politics for years - I did, and am certainly the worse for it - you’ve have figured we were long past the Bladerunner-level of animal extinctions, scorched earth due to too many people, hyper power tech companies tracking everything and controlling most things.

It’s just one disaster after another, and yet, here we remain. Not just that, but lengthening lifespans throughout the First World, as well as developing countries as well. New medicines that work - at least, the non-politicized ones, new food hybrids to feed growing populations, better food for the most part (not talking about drive through here), and more tolerable ways of life.

Paul Ehrlich, who wrote Population Bomb in 1969, was a book I read in high school. Rather wish I hadn’t, as it was the first best seller I’d read to inspire a great deal of concern about the future, my future, and concern over whether the end would occur in my lifetime. I should have spent more time on my math homework, seriously, rather than reading Ehrlich’s tripe.

Societal collapse has been an underlying concern, at least in the modern West since Napoleon. One of the great differentiating features of this new nation on the Atlantic made up of over a dozen independent republics was their optimism, not fear and loathing about the future, but about what greatness could be achieved, and how progress and community made us better, not something to gain and then immediately lose.

Not too long after Ehrlich’s book, MIT did a study on the risks to civilization of a collapse of society; they used what they named a “systems dynamic model,” and came up with projections for the limits to growth. The same arguments were used by the big brains at MIT as were used by such science fiction notables as A.E. Van Vogt, Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein. Excessive exploitation of resources as well as growing populations, all wanting a Western-modeled life style.

Have we all heard this story before?

There are certainly structural limits to growth if one only focusses on energy from oil drilling and coal mining, minerals from Earth-based ore deposits, and blaming every single blip in the weather on mankind doing something modern. Such modern horrors as eating meat, driving a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, people having children, and the always disturbing building structures that require air conditioning, have nothing to do with societal collapse. Nothing that is, if you look beyond traditional technologies and methods.

The convergence of cheaper spaceflight (thanks much, Elon, Richard and Jeff!), improved Earth-based and space-based optics, drones in space as well as the all-important rich apex toxically masculine males willing to fund such venture.

Our energy worries are quite fixable here on Earth with thorium, better use of uranium and natural gas, and an ultimate final breakthrough in solar/thermal panels. Natural resources? There’s an entire planetary core floating along, waiting to be mined, sitting for the taking in the asteroid belt. Ever heard of the asteroid 16 Psyche? Go check it out at:

https://infogalactic.com/info/16_Psyche

Think we can hold on for a decade or two before megaton chunks are hauled back into Earth orbit?

Back to societal collapse. An organization I hear of every few years got hold of the MIT report and did a full-on “we’re all gonna die” report. This group, called the Club of Rome, is most known for - or make that notorious for - using the 1972 piece as their totem, their guide stone, as something to cause consternation where little is necessary.

The great and now departed Art Bell would occasionally have as a guest some spokesperson from the Club of Rome, or some self-styled expert on their writings with regard to the MIT research piece. He - and in one case that I heard, she - would expound on the fact that things must be done, but the specifics sounded less than pleasant, and some were downright draconian. I remember one of these “experts” discussing the upcoming collapse that had Bell questioning him and his info. If you don’t know, the Club of Rome article was widely quoted in business books, Wall Street Journal and the like. It was one of the big fear papers making the rounds when I was in college, along with things like nuclear proliferation and the over use of DDT.

One thing these geniuses would never mention until Art would bring it up and beat them with it was compliance. Let’s say the US, and much of the developed world went along with such measures as to prevent this coming collapse. Would the then USSR and their satellite nations comply? Not too likely How about China, most of South America? Did nations in Africa have the capability of complying? And what would happen if the US and a few First World countries went along, but the rest of the world went along wasting, polluting and over populating? Never a straight answer from the expert on the other side of the microphone.

Colleagues, if you’ve followed Aftermath’s flagship for any time, Clyde Lewis, you probably know the answer and have known it for some time.

Societal collapse, when it occurs in a nation, is a self-inflicted gunshot would. It is political, and normally it can be seen as the over reach of government. We’ve seen some serious example in just the last 30 years. Collapse can be national in scope - the implosion and violence of the collapse of Yugoslavia comes to mind, to a region of a continent - Zimbabwe and South Africa currently going under, dragging down the nations around it, and one could even see the several years on either side of the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Collapse, horrible as it is, usually stems from political decisions, and may occur rather quickly as in the case of Yugoslavia, or take a full decade to play out as with the breakup of the USSR. The southern quarter of the continent of Africa is no longer the breadbasket for surrounding nations, and that unpleasantry may play out quickly.

These academes like to blame their own nations and societies, and make it as though unless 100% change occurs within the next year, the whole planet is doomed. Collective guilt, and we must comply by these new rules at once. It’s pretty easy to see such is not the case.

Back to discussing the updated Societal Collapse paper, this time done recently (2020) by a Harvard graduate student, Gaya Herrington, who also works for the Big-4 accounting firm KPMG. You can read the paper at the KPMG website here:

https://advisory.kpmg.us/articles/2021/limits-to-growth.html

Be warned, it is a 13-page long 1 MB .pdf document, but you might want to give it a scan. You may want to read the article that was making the rounds last week, even briefly showing up on the Drudge Report as well as the Apple News feed. It is here:

https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3xw3x/new-research-vindicates-1972-mit-prediction-that-society-will-collapse-soon

In this article is also the hyperlink to an explanation of the model used, a 2014 article that you might give a look:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/04/scientists-limits-to-growth-vindicated-investment-transition-circular-economy

We, as a species, are facing some real problems. Some are climate related, but do remember the overwhelming majority of climate change is due to the sun, and there’s little fixing that. Some are management of the resources we have, such as land use for grazing, watershed, partial or complete development. Some are old grudges that may hopefully get worked out. But there is one thing from the 19th and 20th centuries that has followed us into the bright and shining 21st century we were all promised.

Government action, inaction or ineptitude killed many millions of people since 1800, with Mao racking up the most horrible body count, but there are many offenders. Localized societal collapse can come from famine, ethnic cleansing or invasion as we have witnessed. But too really screw things up you need bureaucrats. You know the type, those that want to fix things their way, because: experts.

The article and linked paper are worth the read, if for no more than more knowledge to make your own decisions. Do not however allow something like this to affect your choices in building a home, having a child (or another child), owning a car, truck or van, or even eating meat.

We make our decisions as best we can. Remember, things happen.

-James F. Ponder


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