NASA: Industrial Civilization Heading for Irreversible Collapse

PIC: சஞ்சீவி சிவகுமார் (CC)

PIC: சஞ்சீவி சிவகுமார் (CC)

Looks like our time’s almost up. When the shit goes down I suggest you raid the caches of all of those idiots who gave a national television audience a guided tour of their bunkers (complete with an inventory of all weapons, defenses and stockpiled supplies) on “Doomsday Preppers” and “Extreme Survival Bunkers.” Anyway…

Via Raw Story:

A new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.”

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, 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. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

Keep reading. 

33 Comments on "NASA: Industrial Civilization Heading for Irreversible Collapse"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Mar 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm |

    in China, where emperors & empires come & go with regularity
    the idea of a cyiclical change is part of the culture
    the Han, Tang, Song, Ming & Qing (to name a few)
    all had dynasties lasting hundreds of years
    each dynasty punctuated by decades of turmoil
    which eventually settles down into the new empirial rule
    chosen by a mandate from heaven

  2. BuzzCoastin | Mar 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm |

    in China, where emperors & empires come & go with regularity
    the idea of a cyiclical change is part of the culture
    the Han, Tang, Song, Ming & Qing (to name a few)
    all had dynasties lasting hundreds of years
    each dynasty punctuated by decades of turmoil
    which eventually settles down into the new empirial rule
    chosen by a mandate from he

  3. It’s kind of hard to believe that a major statistical model was needed to determine that finite resources, being used in rapidly increasing amounts and at ever higher prices, would lead to chaos for nations that have fostered absolute dependence on said substances, be they rare earths, fossil fuels or otherwise. If it isn’t obvious, it means that someone is putting in major overtime at not noticing.

    • An important concept in spirituality, which is not separate from anything; is direct revelation– Personal experience/realization– And the modes to achieve this is very dependent on the mindset of the person, that is different stimuli get’s different results based on the chemical state, or mindset of a person– This is the level of blindness we are dealing with in general, even though it seems to be changing– But to see something obvious, that you do not see before, requires the right experiences for the person to bring you to the realization of it–

      In a simple example.. let’s say someone runs up to someone in a panic and says there is immediate danger and to react, regardless of what language he uses to communicate this.. it’s really dependent on the persons state of being that will determine the reaction– So to say, he might not react as if there is danger; he might react as if there is danger but may stumble along not knowing how to react; or he might look for the source of the danger, and have a direct revelation of what to do–

      So your words how they are put, may be easy for some to recognize, but they are still merely symbolic knowledge.. it requires realization an internal model to react right, and that may not come about from merely hearing those words, some may have to see it in an incredibly different way in order to know how to react.. being told of danger, is much different than seeing the danger.. even though that can come about from being told of the danger–

    • mannyfurious | Mar 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm |

      Yeah, but… science will save us… or something….

  4. Daniel Gill | Mar 16, 2014 at 1:51 pm |

    i disagree and the technology exists to make things more sustainable. we can even grow oil now

    • Reuben_the_Red | Mar 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm |

      That’s just what they want you to think.

    • Reuben_the_Red | Mar 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm |

      Terence McKenna said that he was confident that humans were clever enough to come up with workable solutions to all of the problems which confront us (and I’m inclined to agree), as long as we could get over the premise that it must make a buck in the process.

      That is really the biggest hurdle, that last part. Why does it have to make a buck in the process? Yet that is the reality today. Every day someone has a new solution, but in the end if it’s not profitable it gets thrown in the trash. Depletion, extraction, exploitation and war are more profitable than sustainability and ecological integrity, under the current narrow definition of what is profitable, and to whom.

      “Saving the world” (from ourselves) might not be profitable. It certainly won’t be profitable to the banksters and energy conglomerates, nor to the United Chambers of Commerce.

    • We don’t need oil.

  5. Reuben_the_Red | Mar 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm |

    This is basically the conclusion gathered from Jared Diamond’s book Collapse. Major fail imminent. Everything looks rosy until past tipping point of no return. Cautions will go unheeded.

    Side note: this is the kind of thing that generally doesn’t make the news, because it is difficult to classify as “news,” in a news-oriented world, this is more like a general condition or scenario or rubrik under which all other events are playing out, just a general backdrop of imminent collapse.

    It’s only “news” when a major organization with big funding puts out a press release announcing the results of a study. Most things that are news, are not. Most of the time it’s nothing more than corporate manipulation and propaganda dressed up as news but in this case, this news on a historical scale. In other words, this is the kind of specialized knowledge or information distributed amongst historians and anthropologists.

    This is where the specialization of human knowledge backfires, and the definition of “historian” is overly-narrow: this is history, but it’s happening today; and it is possible to study history as it takes place, but those people who do so are usually called “journalists,” not “historians,” and their individual historical knowledge/context may be very limited, though they may instead know a lot about broadcast technology, or how to write emotionally-engaging copy.

  6. Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Mar 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm |

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

  7. jasonpaulhayes | Mar 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm |

    It’s the death of a way of life and we’re going to have to drag a lot of people through this, kicking and screaming.

    We can no longer sit by and maintain an ignorant class of consumers for economic, political and ideological reasons. I sit and look out the window as cars and trucks carry dead people to everywhere and nowhere to sell everything and to purchase the nothingness they seek.

  8. This prediction comes from the government funded scientists of a government agency, so it’s a psyop lie. They want you to believe industrial civilization is doomed. Ask yourself why.

    • thisbliss | Mar 16, 2014 at 4:56 pm |

      Hmmm would this not be a complete change of tactic? Unless civilisation is in rude health and its another way to squeeze cash to shore up the ‘failing’ paradigm. Either is confusing – or is that the ultimate goal – to spread disinfo so we don’t know what to believe anymore

    • mannyfurious | Mar 16, 2014 at 6:43 pm |

      You ass. Just as I was starting to feel optimistic for the first time in a while.

  9. Adam Cornell | Mar 16, 2014 at 4:20 pm |

    Molten Salt Reactors. Thorium Fuel Cycle. All else is fail.

    • Not all else.

      • Adam Cornell | Mar 16, 2014 at 6:01 pm |

        Yes all else. You can’t make plastics, operate/lubricate industrial machinery, or generate process heat from solar power, but you can with hydrocarbons.
        The issue is much larger than electricity generation.

        • I disagree. You will be able to all those things with solar within the next decade, considering all the breakthroughs that have been made in the past two years.

          • Adam Cornell | Mar 16, 2014 at 7:27 pm |

            Solar power is Nuclear power.
            You are are agreeing there is only one way, but advocating a method of harvest and delivery with orders of magnitude lower utility.
            Photovoltaics do nothing to address the economics or logistics of industrial processes, rare earth mineral mining, or the rent seeking/fiat finance paradigm that determines the political economics as well as energy access and nuclear weapons proliferation fears driving the foreign policy of every nation on earth.. Photovoltaics cannot be used to burn nuclear weapons and waste stockpiles, or change the rationale motivating any seeking to manufacture them.
            Hydrocarbons are always going to have a place in the world, for reasons other than electicity generation and transportation. Humans like plastics, they like metal alloys, they like petrochemicals, and they like building things. It is better for everyone, including oil producing nations and companies, that we separate the utility hydrocarbons have in those applications from energy supply and transportation.
            Every nation on earth has thorium in the ground. Thorium fission has an energy density 1,000,000 greater than that of hydrocarbon combustion. Molten Salt Reactors are the engine that we can all agree to run our societies on that isn’t a bomb, and that doesn’t need to be acquired or fought over with bombs. They burn 99% of their fuel in the thermal range, and that means fission at atmospheric pressure, meaning no pressure vessels, meaning they will be inexpensive to build, and can be mass-produced. They require no water access for their operation. No need to build them near oceans, or rivers, or lakes. They can be buried. The safety of their operation and shutdown in the event of any emergency has zero dependence upon operator competence or computerized control systems.
            Addressing all of these real world problems is how true decentralization of the utilites and politics driving human life on this world can actually be accomplished. Photovoltaics cannot do this.

          • I agree that solar is a form of nuclear, but I don’t agree with anything else you wrote.

          • Adam Cornell | Mar 17, 2014 at 1:23 am |

            Objectively, there are many paths we may take. Among those I am aware, I advocate the one I perceive to have the greatest utility, in relation to the conflicts I perceive need to be addressed.

            Energy density is a more objective metric than the priciing performance modeling of any consumer good, particularly in a global economic paradigm that utilizes fiat currency, debases it on the front end, and engages in indices and currency volume fraud to target present and future prices into coherence with narrowly defined socioeconomic objectives.

            The energy density of thorium as a fertile nuclear fuel will be 1,000,000 times greater than hydrocarbon combustion for much longer than the economic schema represented by the graph you linked will be relevant.

            The energy density of nuclear fission in solution in any volume of space on earth is greater than the energy density that same space had when the sun was shining on it from 93 million miles away.

            More interesting than demonstrating that you CAN disagree with me because I stated the thorium fuel cycle and molten salt reactors are the only way forward is to identify WHY you disagree. In my mind, the combination of the thorium fuel cycle, operating in solution, offers the broadest utility as the next base load source of energy for human civilization, if it is going to continue it’s present progression.

            If the graph you supplied was intended as a negative statement but you aren’t really interested one way or another, that changes to purpose of this conversation.

          • kowalityjesus | Mar 17, 2014 at 11:50 pm |

            man, you are one informed motherfucker. one correction, one question.

            I hope you will agree that there is no fission reaction happening at the earth’s core, that is nonsense.

            I would like to ask about something I read on the IAEA site. Though Thorium is demonstrably as abundant in the Earth’s crust as Lead, the IAEA claim the available fuel for nuclear cycles is not congruent with the sheer elemental abundance. Is there any isotope or chemical configuration you have heard about that would create an impossibility for Thorium to take part in a nuclear cycle?

            You may want to read the article I wrote about this subject and why Thorium seems to not be in current use.


            Also I capitalize all my elements. I think it’s useful for distinguishing them.

          • Lookinfor Buford | Mar 17, 2014 at 9:38 am |

            Andrew. I’m sincerely interested in grow your own, low cost solar. Your favorite references would be appreciated.

    • misinformation | Mar 19, 2014 at 11:39 pm |

      Why use Thorium when you can’t make easy weapons out of it?

  10. newworldmind | Mar 16, 2014 at 5:59 pm |

    no shit

  11. If anyone has a link the the actual study, it would be very nice if you shared, please. I’ve tried to find it but no luck. Raw Story/Guardian doesn’t have a link to it, nor does NASA: googling it just brings more stories about the study without links to the actual study.
    I like to read these kinds of things for myself and not have someone tell me what they think it says. It seems to me that we are on “the brink of collapse” too but for different reasons than those cited, and being rural, my definition of “collapse” is most likely different from theirs.

  12. mannyfurious | Mar 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm |

    Jesus. Thank god….

  13. randyrandyman | Mar 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm |

    Interesting (and telling) how most if the comments here are about one type of energy technology vs another, yet nobody is talking about reducing consumption, adjusting/rationing usage, rethinking global needs, preventing disease or economic collapse, distributing wealth and technology, etc. The issue isn’t just what sources we’ll use for energy, it’s also WHY we need so much energy, WHERE it ends up, and WHO profits from any given ‘crisis’. Any discussion of technology or its collapse must include human societal, economic and ecological factors to be effective.
    This is about more than plugging in and flipping switches. It’s about sustaining human life on Earth. Without discussing a reduction of global consumption, scaling of sustainable culture, and reduction of waste/fraud etc, you’re all just spitting into the wind.
    Technology, sales and profit-driven greed has sold us all down the river, and now that we can hear the steep waterfall drop ahead approaching, we’re scrambling to put on the brakes? We won’t solve these imminent crises using the same thinking and technology which got us into this mess in the first place.
    I got by fine most of my life without a computer, smartphone, internet or WiFi. My parents had no use for all that, and successfully raised 3 kids. My great-grandparents raised and fed their families without ever owning even a telephone or car. For most of human history, we got along without infernal combustion engines, computers and cable TV. We need to seriously question why suddenly we need all these high energy consumption gadgets to function. It’s time to re-assess who we are, what we are, what matters in our lives, and what we really need to survive.
    Just a guess, but being able to post selfies and kitty pics on Facebook 24/7 or drive to the store for a quart of milk at 3 am or play realistic video games with kids in Taiwan are not essential to sustainable human survival. Time to stop the bullshit sales pitches for new tech gear and software nobody needs, roll up our sleeves and get busy with real on-the-ground solutions for the sustainability of our human race.
    Global efforts to provide safe drinking water and effective vaccines for all humans is a good start. Humans in 2014 should not have to die from diseases that were already conquered hundreds of years ago. That is a priority over launching the latest smartphone, smart car or OS. That is a priority over futuristic, hypothetical nuclear technologies. That is a priority over posting yet another Chicken Little documentary on YouTube. Saving lives and creating a sustainable future for us all is much more urgent and effective than some new gadget or operating system targeting the wealthiest 1-3% of mankind who will never experience dysentery, starvation or smallpox as they sit on their cozy couches playing video games.
    Exactly what are we using all our energy technology on? Why is it so important that we’d risk killing off our own species just so some celebrity can Tweet from an awards show or suburban kids can play Nintendo? Review, rethink, repurpose, reset, please.

    • kowalityjesus | Mar 18, 2014 at 12:05 am |

      How dare you talk about actual solutions! Don’t you know that griping is the only modicum for comments, and the only measure of a comment’s worth is its cleverness in sarcasm and cynicism? How outrageous!

      What would it take for people to stop their vapid activities? Who are we to judge that those activities are vapid? The disposable economy should be disposed of, but people got no time for that. Should dis-conscientiousness and dis-compassionateness by punishable by death? Will one world government finally solve the tragic idiocy of collective mankind? If so, let it be, but I think that heaven is closer at hand than any of us could ever know, and outer pollution is a reflection of inner pollution. Therefore, let us improve ourselves as a testament against the state of inner disrepair of our fellow human beings, and resign most anything else to a higher power. IMHO

  14. Of course it’s going to collapse. Only a utopian idiot would believe otherwise.

Comments are closed.