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Is human civilization invariably heading towards a cataclysmic collapse?

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Is human civilization invariably heading towards a cataclysmic collapse?

Old 02-21-08, 06:27 PM
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Is human civilization invariably heading towards a cataclysmic collapse?

This thread is born out of the One and Only Global Warming thread, because the discussion there shifted along a tangent that detracts from focusing strictly on the issue of global warming. There were greater issues and therefore, ideologies that were being discussed. Furthermore Dr. Mabuse has shown himself to be well-educated and tactful enough to share ideas which would be conducive to starting a new thread.

I tend to avoid the overt generalizations that come with economic studies; i say this because I am a student of economics itself. It is because the foundation of economic theory is somewhat far removed from the world itself. Ceteris Paribus is a disclaimer that is consistently attached to most economic theorem; that all things being equal, the outcome can be predicted based upon the causal or correlative connections between two variables.

However, we do not live in a world that is equitable, or one in which people are completely rational. A holistic study of economics leads one not to just include the relationship between two singular variables, but also other variables as well which are critical to predicting the outcome of the application of economic principles. Cultural factors, environmental factors, political factors cannot be ignored because they affect the very attitudes of the people who are participating in the economy. A culture that values participation and cooperation ironically makes for a more successful capitalist economy because the government needs to intervene less in order to protect people from force and fraud, especially with concern to the treatment of workers. A society that values individuality and personal gain will always need the government to step in because force and fraud will run rampant because the thirst for gain will lead to immoral acquisitions of wealth. The 20th century has certainly showed this is true.

This discussion is the foundation of the issues being debated: environmentalism, resource warfare, the expense upon the environment - the very thing that sustains us - for what appear to be gains that are insubstantial next to the cost incurred for current and future generations of mankind. Entire cultures and nations have gone from being the dominant world power to quickly becoming nothing more than a page in history because they did not adequately manage their resources. There is a generality though that life went on, society went on, despite the collapse of economic systems due to resource depletion because of human ingenuity and the discovery of new resources, or the ability to harness current resources to create a greater yield of food (through agricultural advances), water (through processes such as desalination), energy (such as the burning of coal), and labor (through education).

It does appear, as Dr. Mabuse has stated very eloquently and showing a great degree of education, that we are swiftly approaching another peak of resource usage which will cause yet another dramatic shift in society, culture, in economics. And while there will no doubt be innovation and human civilization will go on, it is prudent that we shore ourselves against what could potentially be another catastrophe. The expense on human life in past was immeasurable; as Santayana said: Those who do not remember the past are forever doomed to repeat it.
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Old 02-21-08, 06:38 PM
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Eventually, sure. Even if that means 5 billions years from now when the sun goes out.
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Old 02-21-08, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Eventually, sure. Even if that means 5 billions years from now when the sun goes out.
"Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes; and all of this, all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars." - Commander Jeffrey Sinclair
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Old 02-21-08, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by das Monkey
"Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes; and all of this, all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars." - Commander Jeffrey Sinclair
Nerd.

Okay, okay. Everytime I watch that, I tear up a little.
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Old 02-21-08, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Eventually, sure. Even if that means 5 billions years from now when the sun goes out.
Finally a prediction Paul Ehrlich could get right.
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Old 02-21-08, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by das Monkey
"Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes; and all of this, all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars." - Commander Jeffrey Sinclair
Check out the return to the moon thread in other. Nobody there seems to think human exploration of the solar system has much of any benefit in relation to the cost.

Are we headed for a collapse? I don't think so, not in the near future. We will have to adjust our way of living to be more in harmony with nature (which we have already started doing), but life will go on.
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Old 02-21-08, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Check out the return to the moon thread in other. Nobody there seems to think human exploration of the solar system has much of any benefit in relation to the cost.
Myopia.
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Old 02-22-08, 07:49 AM
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because civilization was so nice 3000 years ago and the world so equitable

biggest difference between my standard of living and say Bill Gates is that he will have people to drive him, a house larger than most people need and some more tech toys and his home furnishings are a lot more expensive

when you look at middle class people the standard of living is pretty close except they won't have over the top things like say a gold umbrella holder or a Hermes pocketbook that cost $3000 or their own airplane. but generally everyone has a warm and safe home, access to food and a level of nutrition that kings didn't have a few hundred years ago, clean water and luxuries so that they have more free time than people ever had in the history of civilization
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Old 02-22-08, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Check out the return to the moon thread in other. Nobody there seems to think human exploration of the solar system has much of any benefit in relation to the cost.
I already put my hopeless failure of the human spirit stamp on that thread.

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Old 02-22-08, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
when you look at middle class people the standard of living is pretty close except they won't have over the top things like say a gold umbrella holder or a Hermes pocketbook that cost $3000 or their own airplane. but generally everyone has a warm and safe home, access to food and a level of nutrition that kings didn't have a few hundred years ago, clean water and luxuries so that they have more free time than people ever had in the history of civilization
I think about this sometimes and feel very fortunate to have been born when I was. Of course, I might miss out on some unthinkably cool tech in the future. Those people might look back at us and feel sorry. One thing for sure, whenever people talk about the good old days they conveniently forget about how bad crap's always been around.

I'm personally not worried about a cataclysmic collapse anytime soon.
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Old 02-22-08, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Nerd.

Okay, okay. Everytime I watch that, I tear up a little.
A B5 quote for every occasion!

I don't see any reason we're headed for any sort of collapse. Since the end of the Cold War the threat of nuclear annihilation/nuclear winter is gone... I think we're quite a bit farther away from possible catclysmic collapse than we were in the 80s.

I doubt any sort of economic situation could cause a collapse of human civilization. Maybe a few countries though.
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Old 02-22-08, 10:16 AM
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Since the end of the Cold War the threat of nuclear annihilation/nuclear winter is gone...
I wouldn't count on that myself. If anything it is more dangerous now IMHO and more likely someone at some point is going to set off a nuke. It may not lead to complete annihilation but I think the possibility is greater now than it was during the cold war.

EDIT: The people that maintain the Doomsday clock would seem to agree.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock
<img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/Doomsday_Clock_graph.svg/600px-Doomsday_Clock_graph.svg.png">

The avg during the cold war was about 11:52, if my calculations are correct, we're currently at 11:55.

Last edited by nemein; 02-22-08 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 02-22-08, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein
I wouldn't count on that myself. If anything it is more dangerous now IMHO and more likely someone at some point is going to set off a nuke. It may not lead to complete annihilation but I think the possibility is greater now than it was during the cold war.

EDIT: The people that maintain the Doomsday clock would seem to agree.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock
<img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/Doomsday_Clock_graph.svg/600px-Doomsday_Clock_graph.svg.png">

The avg during the cold war was about 11:52, if my calculations are correct, we're currently at 11:55.
I don't trust the doomsday clock people very much. They have added "climate-changing technologies and 'new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm.'" (from Wiki) Those are rather silly as catastrophic threats, IMO.

However I do agree with you that the nuclear threat remains (although nuclear winter was a figment of Carl Sagan's imagination)..
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Old 02-22-08, 10:45 AM
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I don't trust the doomsday clock people very much. They have added "climate-changing technologies and 'new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm.'" (from Wiki) Those are rather silly as catastrophic threats, IMO.
Ah... I missed that last part, I was looking mainly at the cold war data I have to agree w/ you on the above, I just remember the clock was all the rage during the cold war but you don't seem to hear about it much anymore, even though the threat is still out there IMHO.


However I do agree with you that the nuclear threat remains (although nuclear winter was a figment of Carl Sagan's imagination)..
um... I wonder, could nuclear winter be the solution to global warming
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Old 02-22-08, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein
I wouldn't count on that myself. If anything it is more dangerous now IMHO and more likely someone at some point is going to set off a nuke. It may not lead to complete annihilation but I think the possibility is greater now than it was during the cold war.
I agree, but the OP was talking about a huge collapse. With the cold war, the nuclear annihilation could have been practically worldwide with a death count in the billions.

A few terrorists kill some millions of people, or India/Pakistan nuke it out, then yeah, a lot of people die. But that's not the collapse of human civilization.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by movielib
I don't trust the doomsday clock people very much. They have added "climate-changing technologies and 'new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm.'" (from Wiki) Those are rather silly as catastrophic threats, IMO.

However I do agree with you that the nuclear threat remains (although nuclear winter was a figment of Carl Sagan's imagination)..
Agreed on the top part.

Wikipedia disagrees with you on the nuclear winter though. It seems plausible as per the studies they've got listed there.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by movielib
(although nuclear winter was a figment of Carl Sagan's imagination)..
I caught, for a few minutes last night, a documentary on the state of plant and animal life in the Chernobyl exclusion zone and how both are flourishing despite the "Nuclear Winter" type predictions after the 86 disaster.

http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/epg/pr...leId=553767720
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Old 02-22-08, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Nazgul
I caught, for a few minutes last night, a documentary on the state of plant and animal life in the Chernobyl exclusion zone and how both are flourishing despite the "Nuclear Winter" type predictions after the 86 disaster.

http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/epg/pr...leId=553767720
I thought nuclear winter was a result of all the debris kicked into the air by the nuclear explosions, not the radiation.
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Old 02-22-08, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
Wikipedia disagrees with you on the nuclear winter though. It seems plausible as per the studies they've got listed there.
Are these studies located on the Caterpie or Jigglypuff page?
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Old 02-22-08, 12:29 PM
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'cataclysmic' is a strong word...

but yes... mankind is close to hitting a wall... and hitting it hard...

simple math reveals this... a very simplistic look at the basics reveals this...

no elaborate science, nor complicated consideration is necessary...

there is not enough food on this planet for humans now... and by a LOOONG shot too... this earth is in famine right now... take all the food and divide it up equally and everybody starves... you have to go into some form of denial to try and skip around that simple fact...

the earth is in the same situation with fresh water...

and yet the population continues to skyrocket...

for the comfortable life of ease and excess we enjoy here in the US... 5 times the population of the US must struggle in famine and poverty and misery... history tells us this won't last... most of the earth is already plotting our downfall... just as has happened many times before in history...

on the 'ease of living' here in the states... this can't last... our current Comptroller General for the US is resigning... he is acutely aware of the actual nature of the US economy... very, very, few are... the US is the place that is closest to an actual 'upheaval' type of change... he has been trying to point out the facts to people to no avail... and is resigning because of it... greed and mindless excess has run out of control in the US model... in fact that's what most of the world calls our approach to business over the last 20 years, "The US Model", and they want none of it... 20 years from today every dollar of the GNP of the US will go to entitlement government programs, this based on government figures, not fuzzy math... every single dollar... none for government itself, infrastructure, military, nothing... 20 years using very sound math, and we're there... and that's if things stay the same as today... in 2000 the outright financial liability of the US was ~30 trillion, today it's ~58 trillion... this can't last and anyone with with even a modicum of wisdom knows it... but the entire population of the US is apathetic and dependent... not willing to 'do' anything about it...

just as i posted in another thread... democracies last about 200 years... always have...

the ecosystem and natural balance of the planet has been so drastically changed in ways... again very, very, few are actually aware of... the reality of the absolute raping of every type of resource on the earth in the last 150 years is difficult to comprehend... hence many don't... it's so huge it's hard to believe... sounds like science fiction... all in 150 years... astounding... and there are many more people in outright population numbers today than there were 150 years ago... it's worse today...

simple common sense tells a thinking person this cannot continue...

and yes i think global events caused by lack of resources will back super powers into a corner and thermonuclear attacks will happen... not of the absolutely global nature of the cold war maybe... which is kinda worse as that was a huge deterrent...

so my short answer is...

Is human civilization invariably heading towards a cataclysmic collapse?
yes...

yes it is...
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Old 02-22-08, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
Agreed on the top part.

Wikipedia disagrees with you on the nuclear winter though. It seems plausible as per the studies they've got listed there.
...and there are other opinions:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-4580928.html
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Old 02-22-08, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
I agree, but the OP was talking about a huge collapse. With the cold war, the nuclear annihilation could have been practically worldwide with a death count in the billions.

A few terrorists kill some millions of people, or India/Pakistan nuke it out, then yeah, a lot of people die. But that's not the collapse of human civilization.
I disagree, w/ the balance the cold war brought about an all out nuclear conflict (not accounting for a mistake/accidental launch [which frankly I'm still very surprised we haven't had]) was very unlikely IMHO. Granted that's speaking from hindsight and at the time it did seem a very real prospect. Now however, without two sides keeping things in check, a limited exchange is a very real possibility and how people react to that is a very real unknown.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:01 PM
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There's plenty of food and there could be a lot more. There are too many repressive governments that inhibit production and trade. The Green Revolution has outstripped the population growth by a longshot. Malthus was wrong. Ehrlich was wrong. He and his disciples are still wrong. Simon was right. Borlaug was right and did something about it.

Virtually all demographers agree that the population will increase to about 9-10 billion by about 2050 and decline thereafter. The falling birthrates all over the world and the historical fact that as societies get wealthier, they have less children attest to that. I don't see any long term problem as long as governments don't muck it up too much and we don't spend trillions of dollars on phantom menaces.

The real menaces:

Short or long term: nuclear war.

Long term: a comet, meteor or asteroid.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by movielib
I don't trust the doomsday clock people very much. They have added "climate-changing technologies and 'new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm.'" (from Wiki) Those are rather silly as catastrophic threats, IMO.

However I do agree with you that the nuclear threat remains (although nuclear winter was a figment of Carl Sagan's imagination)..
The Cuban Missile Crisis seems to be missing from that chart.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron G
The Cuban Missile Crisis seems to be missing from that chart.

Essentially it happened too quick for the people to adjust the clock. From the wiki page...

The setting of the clock has not always been fast enough to cope with the speed of global events, either; one of the closest periods to nuclear war, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, reached its head and resolution in a number of weeks, and the clock either could not be changed or was not changed to reflect any of this at the time.
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