The Great Collapse of the 22nd Century
Is greed is good capitalism a sustainable model for human civilization? Unbridled human population growth and unregulated profit motives of corporations also drive us toward the incredible dangers of a system wide collapse.
Does industrial fossil fuel based society have a shelf life that’s about to expire?
Australia’s top climate scientist says “we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse” of civilization, which may now be inevitable because 9 of the 15 known global climate tipping points that regulate the state of the planet have been activated.
Our global civilization could easily fall victim to self-induced future shock. We see it with political systems during the pandemic and with the impact of climate change on the business sector. The dawning of collective realization is stark.
Unlike all previous civilizations, modern industrial civilization is powered by an exceptionally rich, NON-renewable, and irreplaceable energy source—fossil fuels. Even with imminent pressure on the topic of climate change, the world didn’t act fast enough. In the year 2021 we saw the real beginnings of what our children and grandchildren are likely to experience as their new normal.
We also know that in human history the collapse of empire is often sudden and brutal. Could the same happen to Western civilization or even to the global community? Collapse is often quick and greatness provides no immunity.
The Roman Empire covered 4.4 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) in 390. Five years later, it had plummeted to 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). By 476, the empire’s reach was zero.
What if capitalism based on greed, exploitation, profit and materialism really doomed our financial and monetary system to non-renewable levels of unsustainability? Even in many western nations, our ICU healthcare systems are very near collapse due to nurses who have quit.
Could this be a microcosm of how the collapse of civilization might occur? Given enough time, enough stressors overlap and some magnificent collapse to the system or global ecosystem occurs.
Human Failure at Scale Leads To a Great Collapse
Our deep past is marked by recurring failure. Human failure, corruption, greed and exploitation are at the heart of all we do as people in our collective systems. Democracies are not necessarily good and capitalism isn’t built to promote equality. The systems that once worked might not work any longer.
Modern inventions of social media might actually promote collapse of mental health and human systems as we have seen with foreign interference, misinformation at scale and behavior modification in the great surveillance era that has now begun.
A great collapse of governments into anarchy will occur by the impact of the pandemic. Who picks up the pieces? China and America, the political duopoly of our times. In a world of consolidation duopolies don’t have a habit of ending well.
The developing world isn’t being helped by either country in any significant way. Most of our global institutions and groups have been corrupted are are not longer functioning with rule of law.
You could make a pretty easy argument that with such high populations megacities, globalized production, industrial agriculture, and a human population approaching 8 billion are all historically exceptional—and unsustainable—without fossil fuels. What actually replaces them? China is still dependent on coal.
Coal accounted for 58% of China’s total primary energy consumption as recently as 2019 – even as coal use was collapsing elsewhere. China currently operates 1,058 coal plants, roughly half of all coal plants worldwide. Bigger may not always be better. Even as a world with too many people might be breaking the system heading us all for a collapse.
A collapse of global human civilization wouldn’t be unexpected. We’ve already created ecocide and biodiversity genocide on most of our planet. Various onlookers who are not members of our species are predicting it.
Global Collapse Hypothesis Needs a Big Data Overhaul
Global collapse hypothesis (GCH) isn’t just about sociology, the environment or political science. It’s about how we do it to ourselves with a little help from our inventions, namely artificial intelligence.
If AI is being heralded as the next great thing, what if how we produce it is actually detrimental to our survival? Loneliness, obesity, corporate lobbying, digital dopamine imprisonment – it’s not a great picture.
Is technology really the solution to our greed-is-good system of consumer capitalism that’s already toxic?
Our duopolistic façade of a real democracy? This isn’t real democracy, the levels of inequality can proclaim. What if neither America’s best inventions of capitalism or democracy are actually working or sustainable? What are likely to replace them or are we just witnessing the decline of the American empire in the early 21st century? America is not leading in green technology, solutions for the world or giving the world a sense of hope any longer.
Currently much of the doomsday narrative is popular in our entertainment industry. But we need to utilize our Big Data to understand it better.
Is Fossil Fuel Collapse Preordained?
What can the rise and fall of historic civilizations tell us about our own? What are the forces that precipitate or delay a collapse? And do we see similar patterns today? Our system of global nations competing with each other might not be a very sustainable model that can prevent us from a global human collapse.
This is because nations behave in a biased, corrupt and self-indulgent manner. Nations, fossil-fuels and human corruption belong to the old world, but what can replace them? How can we replace them?
If we do not change, aren’t agile, don’t innovate, we do risk human collapse. However there aren’t many indications that as a species we are very agile to the conditions of our own making.
Unlike in past civilizations, the economy of industrial society is capitalist. Production for profit is its prime directive and driving force. America and China magnify this, they accelerate wealth inequality, they force their systems on to the rest of the world.
Even with climate change tipping points we are losing the battle. Evidence shows we will also lose control of the tipping points for the Amazon rainforest, the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the Greenland ice sheet in much less time than it’s going to take us to get to net zero emissions.
Permafrost thawing will result in an accelerated scenario. Human beings don’t seem to be organized enough to deal with all the various problems of civilization to make human collapse improbable. In fact it’s only becoming more probable with each decade of the 21st century.
When the ‘great collapse’ becomes a foregone conclusion, many will prepare for it and many will be left out of the survival scenario. From history we know that all empires are temporary. The lifespan of various civilizations – societies with agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in their geographical region and a continuous political structure – simply don’t last.
We therefore have to think of how to solve the issues if our global civilization collapses. This is why the Foundation Series by Issac Asimov was so important to the minds of Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. They felt or knew this was a likely scenario to prepare for.
Collapse Is a Natural Cyclical Event
For every global species multiple collapses are pre-ordained by probability and poor leadership. Human beings are not very talented long-term leaders. Human governance, legal systems and rule of law and the capacity to self-regulate is extremely limited (without AI-governance). We will more likely experience a global collapse before AI-moderated governance is innovated.
Any dark age requires a collapse to enter in a dystopia period where a new form self-governance becomes possible. Think about it, climate and technological collapse is very highly likely. Collapse can be defined as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socioeconomic complexity.
Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence. When a system loses cohesion and sustainability, collapse is imminent. We have to assume the year 2050 as a baseline for such a collapse means the future of capitalism is potentially no future.
The new normal is not the manipulated economic recovery from a pandemic. The new normal is how we choose and are able to live after the global collapse.
Virtually all past civilisations have faced this fate. Some recovered or transformed, such as the Chinese and Egyptian. Other collapses were permanent, as was the case of Easter Island. Sometimes the cities at the epicentre of collapse are revived, as was the case with Rome.
In other cases, such as the Mayan ruins, they are left abandoned as a mausoleum for future tourists. What will global greed-is-good capitalism become? What will survive outdated political systems and national identities?
What Is the Future of Humanity?
Will we achieve the following before the collapse of global cigilization on Earth?
- Seed colonies of human beings on multiple other planets (splinter colonies)
- Seed smart cities in secret projects below (hidden seed Utopias) the Earth’s surface to wait out the great collapse
- AI moderated governance that can prevent much of human error in corruption and leadership
Preparing for the great collapse is not an individual choice for people. It’s a collective decision in how to avoid the risks, and once accepted that it’s too late, to plan for the future after the event. Apocalypse and the collapse of a system isn’t a terrible thing, it’s a natural event for any society and or organism.
The unprecedented surplus energy supplied by fossil fuels has generated exceptional growth and enormous profits over the past two centuries. But now we risk hitting a dark age of negative population growth, problems in global GDP growth and self-created dangers and consequences of modern history, or karma.
A great collapse won’t likely occur from an asteroid or nucleur winter, but simply by the unsustainable collective actions of governments, corporations and nations and their snowball effects.
Even climate modeling suggests it’s probably too late by the 2020s. Given the momentum in both the Earth and in human systems, and the growing difference between the ‘reaction time’ needed to steer humanity towards a more sustainable future, and the ‘intervention time’ left to avert a range of catastrophes in both the physical climate system (e.g., melting of Arctic sea ice) and the biosphere (e.g., loss of the Great Barrier Reef), we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse.
However collapse occurs for global civilizations when multiple variables intersect. That’s probably in the 22nd century, not the 21st. That gives us a few years to plan and push our space tech race as if there was no tomorrow.
The great collapse occurs when ecological, political, technological and business (economic) failures intersect. It appears that’s 45% probable in the 22nd century and 28% probable in the 21st century. Human beings could have a small chance, around 10%, of out-running the great collapse.
The techno-male obsession with space and AI is actually our best chance of survival. This is incredibly ironic since Western Euro-centric patriarchal leadership has led us to this point.