29 votes

Do you think a collapse is coming?

Can be any kind, social, political, environmental, economic etc etc. I'm thinking more on a worldwide scale rather than just one local area, the topic's been on my mind recently.

26 comments

  1. [7]
    suspended Link
    We are in a state of environmental collapse known as the Holocene extinction. Those of us who are part of the western global economic system could very well face a near total collapse in the...

    We are in a state of environmental collapse known as the Holocene extinction.

    Those of us who are part of the western global economic system could very well face a near total collapse in the future. The handful of small pockets of people that aren't a part of this system should barely notice as long as there isn't a nuclear exchange.

    26 votes
    1. [4]
      vakieh Link Parent
      How do you figure? If they have resources to live there will be swarms of refugees from any real collapse, or if it's a slow burn tanks and men with guns coming to take whatever resources they...

      The handful of small pockets of people that aren't a part of this system should barely notice as long as there isn't a nuclear exchange

      How do you figure? If they have resources to live there will be swarms of refugees from any real collapse, or if it's a slow burn tanks and men with guns coming to take whatever resources they have. Right now the only protection they have is a weak shield of moral imperative backed up with the fact there are easier places to take shit from.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        suspended Link Parent
        Sure, some of this could happen. I was referring to people who live so remote and in obscurity that any western people left, probably won't realize these other people exist.

        Sure, some of this could happen. I was referring to people who live so remote and in obscurity that any western people left, probably won't realize these other people exist.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          vakieh Link Parent
          There are vested interests in keeping the population of wealthy nations content. Once the collapse begins colonialism is going to spring back to life as though it never left, only this time with...

          There are vested interests in keeping the population of wealthy nations content. Once the collapse begins colonialism is going to spring back to life as though it never left, only this time with nuclear powered boats and drones.

          Nowhere could be remote enough.

          6 votes
          1. teaearlgraycold Link Parent
            Unless Elon has his way. Or will we call that colonialism as well?

            Unless Elon has his way.

            Or will we call that colonialism as well?

    2. [2]
      Gully_Foyles Link Parent
      Why Western? Chinese per-capita levels of debt levels are currently worse than the US's.

      Why Western? Chinese per-capita levels of debt levels are currently worse than the US's.

      1 vote
      1. suspended Link Parent
        It was a generalization of the global economic system.

        It was a generalization of the global economic system.

  2. [5]
    Sahasrahla Link
    No. There's still a lot of understandable pessimism on this: we've known for decades that this is a problem, we are still failing to take appropriate action, powerful interests want to maintain...

    No. There's still a lot of understandable pessimism on this: we've known for decades that this is a problem, we are still failing to take appropriate action, powerful interests want to maintain the status quo of inaction, and even many voters still don't want to do anything or don't think there's a problem. This has carried us forward to a point where there is already a worrying amount of environmental destruction and there's more in the pipeline.

    But I think there's reason for hope as well. There are already falling emissions across Europe and even the US. There are advances in carbon neutral technology and energy sources. And increasingly we see people demanding action from their governments and voting with this in mind.

    Right now I see ourselves a bit like a student who procrastinated until the day before an assignment is due. We've ignored the problem because we prioritized our short-term comfort but now the issue is too pressing and we're finally acting before it's too late. It will be uncomfortable, our solution won't be as good as it could have been, and it could still come down to the wire; but I think when we actually feel enough pressure to come together as a society and act on something we can do amazing things.

    Again, pessimism is understandable. It's natural to feel powerless because we're inundated with bad news and there's not really anything we can do about it individually. There's no amount of meat I can avoid or flights I can choose not to take that will move the needle on global warming. But positive change is happening anyway. It's an open question whether it will be enough or in time but I think we're really starting to move in the right direction on this as a society.

    One thing I would suggest, in addition to any lifestyle changes you feel comfortable with, is to push for political change. This can take the form of activism or it can be as simple as voicing your concerns in public and normalizing the idea that addressing climate change needs to be a priority and that we should vote accordingly and reward candidates who take real action. It's already natural in our every day lives to speak out against racism, sexism, etc. but we need to put the same amount of effort or more into pushing for policy solutions to climate change. Individually most of us can't do much, but if we push each other with a message of we can do this and let's get it done then our voices will be amplified and we'll be able to bring about the change we need.

    26 votes
    1. [3]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. stephen Link Parent
        Or we had to get an incomplete and if we don't do the whole semester of work over the summer we're gonna have to repeat the class - by which i mean rebuild society.

        we're now being given the chance to turn in the assignment for partial credit,

        Or we had to get an incomplete and if we don't do the whole semester of work over the summer we're gonna have to repeat the class - by which i mean rebuild society.

        1 vote
      2. wakamex Link Parent
        thanks for the links. went through the first one, which is quite thorough. in the second, I can't find mention of the 1 billion carrying capacity. I also checked the appendix. can you point me in...

        thanks for the links. went through the first one, which is quite thorough. in the second, I can't find mention of the 1 billion carrying capacity. I also checked the appendix. can you point me in the right direction?

    2. [2]
      alyaza Link Parent
      this is not to put a damper on your optimism here, but this is just not something the west, china, and india alone are going to end up solving even if they all were to reduce emissions starting...

      But I think there's reason for hope as well. There are already falling emissions across Europe and even the US. There are advances in carbon neutral technology and energy sources. And increasingly we see people demanding action from their governments and voting with this in mind.

      this is not to put a damper on your optimism here, but this is just not something the west, china, and india alone are going to end up solving even if they all were to reduce emissions starting now. while the industrialized western world, china, and india are the major producers of emissions currently, they were never going to be the actual problem with preventing increasing emissions in the future since at worst they'll be plateauing soon.

      the real problem coming with emissions is the developing world--particularly africa. the developing world is most likely going to pick up the upward trend where we leave off because the steep increase in population it's expected to have and the massive uptick in industrialization and consumerism that is going to be a consequence of that increase in population. and without a viable green movement in a lot of these places, it's going to be really tough to hold them to anything resembling a green future since they have pretty much no incentive to actually adhere to something like the paris accords.

      there's still progress, of course, and the two really good paris accord countries are actually developing world nations--but they're the exceptions, not the rules. what i think people really need to start focusing on with political activism is supporting green technology in these countries in addition to supporting green activism in their own, because otherwise we're going to likely just replace one problem where we have leverage and the ability to craft solutions with another where people have little to no way to effectively enforce things--perhaps unless we take inadvisable military and economic action.

      9 votes
      1. hungariantoast Link Parent
        The economy of Africa will build off the back of the West's need for renewable energy, and I doubt African nations will just piss that away with oil based energy sources. Fun fact: The United...

        the real problem coming with emissions is the developing world--particularly africa. the developing world is most likely going to pick up the upward trend where we leave off because the steep increase in population it's expected to have and the massive uptick in industrialization and consumerism that is going to be a consequence of that increase in population. and without a viable green movement in a lot of these places, it's going to be really tough to hold them to anything resembling a green future since they have pretty much no incentive to actually adhere to something like the paris accords.

        The economy of Africa will build off the back of the West's need for renewable energy, and I doubt African nations will just piss that away with oil based energy sources.

        Fun fact:

        The United Kingdom does not have enough land to generate enough electricity using biological sources. When you account for wind, solar, and tidal energy sources, the amount of land the United Kingdom would need to sacrifice to sustain itself is still staggeringly, impossibly large. They simply will never be able to build enough renewable energy infrastructure to power their own country, at its current rate of energy usage per person, within a century.

        The same can be said for a lot of other developed nations as well. The smaller your country is physically, the greater your population, and the greater your energy use per person is, the more space you simply won't have to sustain yourself.

        You know where does have plenty of space, a lack of people, and a great environment for electricity production?

        Africa.

        The future of African economic development is going to (most likely) be renewable energy.

        So, I find it unlikely that the continent of nations whose economies are built upon their renewable energy infrastructure is going to piss that all away by powering themselves through fossil fuels. They'll already be using their land to send electricity to the West, they'll consume some of if for themselves.

        The real question is what happens when those African nations get so large that they start running out of room for people and renewables, but that's an issue for the twenty-second century, and population decline might mean it fizzles out before it becomes a crisis anyways.

        Of course, this is all speculation, as we are dealing with the future. It also doesn't take into account nuclear energy, which requires a laughably small amount of space.

        7 votes
  3. ThatFanficGuy Link
    Do I think any sort of collapse is coming? No. There are worrying things currently happening – the rise of the far-right political leaders, the increasingly-warmer winters and the...

    Do I think any sort of collapse is coming? No. There are worrying things currently happening – the rise of the far-right political leaders, the increasingly-warmer winters and the increasingly-hotter summers, the increasing Russian militancy and offensive actions online – but I don't think all is going to fall down. I'm no expert, of course – I don't think many in this thread will be – but you never asked for expertise.

    I have to admit, though, that the thought had crossed my mind. It might collapse. Of interest is the fact that "might" is the weakest conjunctive modal verb in the English language: it says "it's not out of the realm of possibility, and that's all I'm suggesting". So, it all might go down. There are worrying signs. But then, the human civilization has survived through two world wars – having developed an existential crisis, granted, but we're here.

    I think we might get scuffed and hopefully learn some good lessons from it, but we'll be alright.

    12 votes
  4. [4]
    lazer Link
    I think an environmental collapse is coming and that a societal collapse can follow along with that. I feel more and more urgency to prepare somehow, but not sure where to start aside from doing...

    I think an environmental collapse is coming and that a societal collapse can follow along with that. I feel more and more urgency to prepare somehow, but not sure where to start aside from doing my best to keep my impact on the environment minimal. For example, do I learn some useful skill like gardening, fishing, etc? Do I start stockpiling water and canned food? Which of these things, if any, would actually help me? I don't know and feel pretty lost as to what I can do to prepare myself.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      firstname Link Parent
      I think your country`s military or defensive programs should have general information when it comes to things like this. Food is indeed important. Something that i can recommend that the...

      I think your country`s military or defensive programs should have general information when it comes to things like this. Food is indeed important. Something that i can recommend that the information pamphlet i got from my own military did not mention is a gas driven electric generator that can keep you going for at least a while.

      3 votes
      1. lazer Link Parent
        Good idea, thank you. I will contact the government to get some information from them. Unfortunately I am not a native speaker of the language of the country where I live (yet!) so it might take a...

        Good idea, thank you. I will contact the government to get some information from them. Unfortunately I am not a native speaker of the language of the country where I live (yet!) so it might take a while to dig up the right channels and information. Good tip about the generator too, I may start budgeting and saving up for things like this.

    2. starcloak Link Parent
      My thinking is similar. I'm wondering if I should move my family somewhere with more fresh water and arable land.

      My thinking is similar. I'm wondering if I should move my family somewhere with more fresh water and arable land.

      1 vote
  5. Amarok Link
    I think calling it a 'collapse' is somewhat tainting the conversation. There are changes coming, and once they get started they are going to touch every corner of the planet. Out the other side,...

    I think calling it a 'collapse' is somewhat tainting the conversation.

    There are changes coming, and once they get started they are going to touch every corner of the planet. Out the other side, our systems of governance, economics, travel, production, and communication are going to be radically different. That goes for every single country on Earth.

    This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Crisis is opportunity, after all. My money is on a large climate-driven natural disaster with a tens of billions price tag, but not in some place that can be ignored - places like Hong Kong, New York City, or Miami... possibly all of them at once, if the antarctic collapse raises the sea level by a couple of feet in the space of a couple of weeks. This seems not only likely but inevitable within the next decade.

    I was enjoying reading about the world economic forum in Davos this year. The elites are scared shitless about this right now, it'll be their heads on the chopping block if things go badly, and they know this. They are taking it all seriously for the first time.

    6 votes
  6. stephen Link
    Is a collapse coming? No. Is a collapse already here? Yes. Two of them in fact. The first, if the Holocene extinction and the collapse in biodiversity it will bring. The second is the collapse in...

    Is a collapse coming? No. Is a collapse already here? Yes. Two of them in fact. The first, if the Holocene extinction and the collapse in biodiversity it will bring.

    The second is the collapse in the world order of Occidental hegemony anchored by the global dominance of the United States. Irrespective of any looming crisis/implosion of capitalism, the Post-War, Post-Colonial, and Post-Cold-War age of geopolitics is ending. This is due in part of the collapse of America's empire.

    Will there be massive unrest as America collapses? No. We are seeing and will continue to see the same sort of protracted collapse experienced by the UK after its empire collapsed. Government austerity, less luxuries, less affordable or smaller houses and cars, more debt, more work, more suicide etc. America is more a debtor/importer nation than a creditor/producer nation. It props itself up with meaningless wars and farcical political theater. Consider the parallels with the late USSR with Afghanistan.

    For centuries before colonialism the Middle East, East Asia and Africa were all home to considerable people and nations capable of competing and exceeding European nations. As the colonial legacy fades and nations like China, India, Ethiopia, Argentina etc. make gains so too will fade the privileges afforded the hegemonic powers. The collapse of American dominance may not be as severe as a Hollywood movie. But it is also not something to ignore.

    5 votes
  7. vakieh Link
    I think the environment works on a much slower time scale than we are used to, and that our ingenuity will hide the immediate effects of any serious issues long enough and hard enough that the...

    I think the environment works on a much slower time scale than we are used to, and that our ingenuity will hide the immediate effects of any serious issues long enough and hard enough that the collapse will happen without people knowing just how bad it really is until it hits a tipping point. The earlier that happens, the easier it will be to fix. Unfortunately I think we'll probably drag it out to 2100 - 2200 and it will be a real kick in the balls for everyone alive at that point.

    4 votes
  8. nacho Link
    I think The United Kingdom may have a rude awakening if tonight's vote on Brexit goes poorly. Collapse? Maybe not quite, but I think the underpinning systemic issues within British society are...

    I think The United Kingdom may have a rude awakening if tonight's vote on Brexit goes poorly.

    Collapse? Maybe not quite, but I think the underpinning systemic issues within British society are gradually coming to a head.

    I think a lot of satisfied people in western democracies have forgotten that politics actually matters in their life. A lot. And they've taken semi-decent governance for granted.


    Again, I don't know about collapse, but the world is certainly much more volatile and uncertain that it's been for at least a couple decades.

    Somehow that has to resolve. It doesn't have to happen in 2019 or the next decade, but right now it feels like something's gotta give "soon"

    4 votes
  9. SuperGracchiBros Link
    While not a collapse, I do believe we will see a retreat of civilisation. I think, in the next couple decades, we will begin to see countries implode in a manner that Libya and Syria have, but...

    While not a collapse, I do believe we will see a retreat of civilisation.
    I think, in the next couple decades, we will begin to see countries implode in a manner that Libya and Syria have, but without the international interest in stabilising them that Syria has had (for better or worse). New York and Venice will probably not be underwater, but not every country has the wealth or infrastructure it takes to protect cities of that size. I think that several developing countries will buckle under the strain of climate change, triggering refugee flows that will destabilise their neighbours. I don't think this is inevitable, but given the track record of the world, it seems likely.

  10. synergy Link
    yes but it will come after im dead. which is why im not having kids

    yes but it will come after im dead. which is why im not having kids

  11. TheInvaderZim Link
    our current economic system is unsustainable, and mostly built on debt and promises. The idea of endless growth powers western society, and as its become more and more unsustainable, the effects...

    our current economic system is unsustainable, and mostly built on debt and promises. The idea of endless growth powers western society, and as its become more and more unsustainable, the effects (income inequality, business centralization, govt. corruption) have become more and more pronounced.

    The reason you can say with certainty that an economic collapse is coming, though, is because its happened before. Capitalism is cyclical, like a water wheel powered by a river of greed. Eventually the circle completes, and it starts all over. It just hasnt happened in awhile, but the idea that it somehow certainly wont is as comical as suggesting that it will certainly happen tomorrow.

    It WILL happen, and probably soon. But it wont be the end of the world - a lot of people are just going to lose their homes, jobs and cars again.

  12. Gully_Foyles Link
    Any gradual-enough collapse will just looks like a slow decline.

    Any gradual-enough collapse will just looks like a slow decline.

  13. CrazyOtter Link
    My own feelings on this subject are complicated and have varied over time. Putting aside nuclear war as a possibility, I don't think we face an immediate collapse that results in a Mad Max style...

    My own feelings on this subject are complicated and have varied over time.

    Putting aside nuclear war as a possibility, I don't think we face an immediate collapse that results in a Mad Max style world.

    My concern is that our current way of living is unsustainable. That lack of sustainability is steadily degrading the environment which effects our ability to maintain a complex society.

    I fear a long term gradual decline that normalizes worsening living conditions.