Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chance of Civilization Collapse = 49% - Massive depopulation of the human species = A Certainty

The current population on the planet is about 6.7 billion people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_...). That means we are likely to see a die-off of about 5.7 billion people, or roughly 6 out of every 7 people.

A loss of 6 out of 7 people -- even in the long run -- means a great de-specialization of complex societies and a return to a far more agrarian society. There is only ONE nation on Earth that has the experience and culture to handle this transition without much loss of life, and that's Papua New Guinea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_...).
What Diamond and I both agree on is that complex civilizations are quite fragile, and short-terming thinking can easily doom a society or civilization to irreversible collapse. (Another interesting book to read on this subject, although it's quite technical and a bit older, is The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter.)
Collapse can come from many vectors. Many collapses are environmental, such as the collapse of the Anasazi Indians in North America or the collapse of the Tiwanaku in South America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiwanaku).
Other causes of collapse include man-made accelerations of environmental change; the classic example being the rampant deforestation of Easter Island by its inhabitants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter...).
Jared Diamond, in fact, has publicly declared he sees only a 51 percent chance of western civilization surviving. You can hear this from his own mouth in this video interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnZg...
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