Industrial civilisation could be headed for `irreversible collapse`: NASA-funded study

Last Updated: Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 15:00

Washington: Researchers have highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in near future because of unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists found that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations collapsed, which has raised questions about the sustainability of modern civilization.
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of the past cases of collapse, the HANDY project identified the salient interrelated factors that explain civilisational decline, and which could help determine the risk of collapse: Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture and Energy.

These factors could help in the collapse of global industrial civilisation 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 crucial role in the process of the collapse of a civilization in all such cases over the past five thousand years.

The study has been published in the Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.


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First Published: Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 14:49

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