For the first time an array of interconnected problems is moving our global civilization toward collapse. Driven by increasing overpopulation and over-consumption by the rich, these dilemmas include climate disruption, loss of ecosystem services, global poisoning, depletion of resources (especially soils and groundwater), and the threat of vast famines, epidemics and resource wars. Only a concerted effort to reduce the scale of society and focus much more attention on agriculture and equity seems likely to such improve the human prospect. Growth is the disease; sustainability is attainable, but only with unprecedented rethinking, effort, and cooperation.
In January 2013, The Royal Society published “Can Collapse of Global Civilization be Avoided?” by Paul and Anne Ehrlich (The Royal Society Biological Sciences, published online 8 January 2013 an excerpt
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Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.
Virtually every past civilization has eventually undergone collapse, a loss of socio-political-economic complexity usually accompanied by a dramatic decline in population size . Some, such as those of Egypt and China, have recovered from collapses at various stages; others, such as that of Easter Island or the Classic Maya, were apparently permanent [1,2]. All those previous collapses were local or regional; elsewhere, other societies and civilizations persisted unaffected. Sometimes, as in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, new civilizations rose in succession. In many, if not most, cases, over-exploitation of the environment was one proximate or an ultimate cause .
But today, for the first time, humanity’s global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as ‘an act of suicide on a grand scale’ , facing what the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental problems .
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