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Climate climate change scenario  the environment or us  | Upload General

Climate Change Scenario: The Environment Or Us?

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by: Yvonne Doff
climate change scenario  the environment or us  | Upload

Nowadays, we are making the world worse. True or not? A study of the downfall of historical civilisations has shown that we face many risks currently. Historian Arnold Toynbee explains in his 12-volume 'A study of History’ that great civilisations take their own lives and not of others. But in fact, that is not the whole truth: other elements help with their self-destruction.

Climate Change Scenario: The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire, for example, did not only destruct itself, but due to poor leadership, damage to the environment and climate change, Rome was a victim. In 410 Rome was plundered by the Visigoths and in 455 by the Vandals. The Roman Empire contained 4.4 million square kilometres in 390. Five years later it had collapsed to 2 million square kilometres. By 476, the empire's range was practically nil.

A repeating failure characterises our deep past. What can the rise and fall of historical civilisations tell us about ours? What are the forces that bring down or slow down a collapse? And do we see comparable patterns today?

Recommended: Coronavirus: Symptoms Flu And Climate Change

The Environment Or Us? Lifespan Of Civilisations

At first, we need to look at past civilisations and compare their lifespan. This can be difficult. In this study, we look at agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in its geographical region and a continuous political structure. You can say that all empires are civilisations, but not all cultures are empires.

What is civilization?
A civilization is generally defined as an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms.

London parliament building, river Thames no water
London, Great Brittain. The end of an empire....

Almost all past civilisations have dealt with a collapse. This meant a fast and prolonged loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity. Public services fall apart, and disorder is created when the government loses its monopoly on violence. Some civilisations have recovered (the Chinese and Egyptians, for example), and other collapses were permanent (Easter Island, for example). In Rome, the destruction was revived. What can this tell us concerning the future of modern global civilisation? Is collapse a normal phenomenon for civilisations?


                                                Society Collapse: Climate Change, The Environment Or Us?
                                                                         Will America Fall Like Rome?

Maybe societies of the past and the present are simply complex systems made up of people and technology. Failing is part of life, so collapse can also be a regular phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage. We are more technologically advanced now, but that does not mean we can concur every unpredicted challenge. We are not immune to new technology.

What is technology?
It includes machines (like computers) but also techniques and processes (like the way we produce computer chips). It might seem like all technology is only electronic, but that's just most modern technology. In fact, a hammer and the wheel are two examples of early human technology.

Climate Change Scenario: What The Past Tells Us

While there is no one acceptable theory for the why of collapses, historians, anthropologists, and others have suggested various explanations, including:

Recommended: Mankind Could Disappear Globally But The Earth Will Survive

  • Society Collapse: Climate Change, when the climate's stability changes, the results can be catastrophic, resulting in crop failures, famine and desertification
  • Environmental degradation. Collapse can occur when societies exceed the carrying capacity of their environment. This ecological collapse theory points to over-deforestation, water pollution, soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity as causes of precipitation.

Oil spil in China
Oil pollution, China

  • Society Collapse: Inequality and Oligarchy. Wealth and political disparity can be central drivers of social disruption, as well as aristocracy and centralisation of power among leaders. This not only causes social suffering but hampers a society's ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems. For example, the population grows; this exceeds the demand for labour. Workers become cheaper; society becomes top-heavy. This inequality undermines collective solidarity, and political unrest follows.
What is government oligarchy?
Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); meaning 'few', and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning 'to rule or to command') is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people.
Political unrest
Protests in Paris
  • Society Collapse: Complexity. Joseph Tainter, a collapse expert and historian, says that societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy. Another indicator of increasing complexity is called Energy Return on Investment (EROI). This refers to the proportion between the amount of energy produced by raw material and the energy needed to obtain it. Like complexity, EROI seems to have a point at which efficiency decreases.
  • Society Collapse: External Shocks. In other words, the 'four horsemen': war, natural disasters, starvation and plagues. The Aztec Empire, for example, was destroyed by Spanish invaders. Most of the early agricultural states were volatile due to deadly epidemics. The concentration of people and livestock in walled colonies with poor hygiene made disease outbreaks inevitable and disastrous. Disasters sometimes went hand in hand, as was the case with the Spanish introduction of salmonella into America.

Recommended: Climate Change: Locust Second Wave And A Lockdown

car, water, flood
  • Society Collapse: Randomness & Bad Luck. A statistical analysis of the empires suggests that the collapse is arbitrary and independent of age. Evolutionary biologist and data scientist Indre Zliobaite and her colleagues have observed a parallel pattern in the evolution of species. A simplified explanation for this apparent arbitrariness is the 'Red Queen Effect': if species are continually struggling to survive in a changing environment with numerous competitors, extinction is a consistent possibility.

red queen hypotesis

What is the Red Queen effect in evolution?
The “Red Queen” hypothesis in evolution is related to the coevolution of species. It states that species must continuously adapt and evolve to pass on genes to the next generation and also to keep from going extinct when other species within a symbiotic relationship are evolving.

The Environment Or Us?: Indicators

Recommended: Is Neoliberalism Hurting Our Climate And The Paris Accord?

Despite the overload of books and articles, we have no definitive explanation for the collapse of civilisations. What we do know is this: the factors mentioned above can all contribute.

Stressors can overrun societal coping capacity, which can cause collapse. To examine a different kind of indicators of danger to see whether collapsing is rising or falling, we show you four possible metrics. These are measured over the past few decades:

  • Temperature is a clear indicator of climate change
  • Inequality is more complicated to calculate. The specific measurement of the Gini index suggests that inequality has reduced slightly worldwide (although it is increasing within countries). But the Gini index can be deceptive because it only measures relative changes in income
  • The rich are becoming richer, which in the past has led to extra pressure on society. Studies show that the EROI for fossil fuels has declined steadily over time as the easiest to reach and most precious reserves are exhausted. Unfortunately, most of the renewable substitutes, such as solar energy, have a significantly lower EROI, mainly because of their energy density and the rare earth metals and production needed to produce them.

man, snow, sign, buildings

Climate Change Scenario: Measures Of Resilience

The only positive thing is that collapses are not the entire picture. Social elasticity can slow down or prevent the collapse.

The economic diversity is more significant than ever. We can cope more than ever, and we have more knowledge than ever. Especially, population groups with more experience may be better able to respond to crises when they occur. Also, the innovation of civilisation is rising.
If we look at the collapse and elasticity indicators, we cannot be complacent. If we keep on innovate and diversify like this, we can be optimistic. Nevertheless, the world is deteriorating in areas that have contributed to the collapse of earlier societies. The climate is changing, the difference between rich and poor is growing, the world is becoming more and more complex, and our environmental demands exceed the carrying capacity of the planet.

What does elasticity mean?
Elasticity is a measure of a variable's sensitivity to a change in another variable. In business and economics, elasticity refers the degree to which individuals, consumers or producers change their demand or the amount supplied in response to price or income changes.

house falling in water

Environment Or Us?: We May Fall Down

Our weapons are more massive than it used to be (now: nuclear weapons and biological agents instead of arrows and swords). New tools of violence, such as deadly autonomous weapons, may be available in the near future. People are becoming exceptionally specialised and less involved in the manufacture of food and essential goods.

Recommended: Climate Change: Cause Of The Next Global Economic Collapse

And a changing climate can destroy our ability to return to simple farming practices.

With the expansion of nuclear weapons, we may already have reached the point of civilized 'terminal speed'. Any collapse threatens to be permanent. A nuclear war can lead to an actual risk: either the disappearance of our species or a permanent slingshot, back to the Stone Age. 

gas mask

Climate change is a different kind of threat than what the Maya's dealt with. Now, they are global, quicker, more dangerous and human-driven. A collapse of our civilisation is not unavoidable. History indicates that it is possible, we have the rare advantage of being able to learn from the pieces of the wreckage of societies' past.

We know what we have to do, what needs to be done. We need to reduce the emissions, inequalities must become equal, and we have to care more about the environment. Innovation should be stimulated, and we need more diversity in economics. The policy suggestions are there; only the political will is missing. We can invest in recovering better. There are already well-developed ideas to improve the capacity of food and knowledge systems to recover after a disaster. We have to listen to the past, to improve ourselves. Do not walk blindly into the future that will destroy us.

Before you go!

Recommended: Economic Growth Is Dead: Welcome To The Circular Economy

Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
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Whoops! Apologies for accidentally posting my comment 4X. Honestly didn’t realize it had been posted the first time! Hope to see more of your articles in future
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Fascinating article, thanks for sharing
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Writer, traveller and dreamer. Love to write, like to travel. Passion for language, cultures and what happens in the world. 

Climate Change Scenario: The Environment Or Us?

Nowadays, we are making the world worse. True or not? A study of the downfall of historical civilisations has shown that we face many risks currently. Historian Arnold Toynbee explains in his 12-volume 'A study of History’ that great civilisations take their own lives and not of others. But in fact, that is not the whole truth: other elements help with their self-destruction. Climate Change Scenario: The Roman Empire The Roman Empire, for example, did not only destruct itself, but due to poor leadership, damage to the environment and climate change, Rome was a victim. In 410 Rome was plundered by the Visigoths and in 455 by the Vandals. The Roman Empire contained 4.4 million square kilometres in 390. Five years later it had collapsed to 2 million square kilometres. By 476, the empire's range was practically nil. A repeating failure characterises our deep past. What can the rise and fall of historical civilisations tell us about ours? What are the forces that bring down or slow down a collapse? And do we see comparable patterns today? Recommended:  Coronavirus: Symptoms Flu And Climate Change The Environment Or Us? Lifespan Of Civilisations At first, we need to look at past civilisations and compare their lifespan. This can be difficult. In this study, we look at agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in its geographical region and a continuous political structure. You can say that all empires are civilisations, but not all cultures are empires. What is civilization? A civilization is generally defined as an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms. London, Great Brittain. The end of an empire.... Almost all past civilisations have dealt with a collapse. This meant a fast and prolonged loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity. Public services fall apart, and disorder is created when the government loses its monopoly on violence. Some civilisations have recovered (the Chinese and Egyptians, for example), and other collapses were permanent (Easter Island, for example). In Rome, the destruction was revived. What can this tell us concerning the future of modern global civilisation? Is collapse a normal phenomenon for civilisations? {youtube}                                                 Society Collapse: Climate Change, The Environment Or Us?                                                                          Will America Fall Like Rome? Maybe societies of the past and the present are simply complex systems made up of people and technology. Failing is part of life, so collapse can also be a regular phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage. We are more technologically advanced now, but that does not mean we can concur every unpredicted challenge. We are not immune to new technology. What is technology? It includes machines (like computers) but also techniques and processes (like the way we produce computer chips). It might seem like all technology is only electronic, but that's just most modern technology. In fact, a hammer and the wheel are two examples of early human technology. Climate Change Scenario: What The Past Tells Us While there is no one acceptable theory for the why of collapses, historians, anthropologists, and others have suggested various explanations, including: Recommended:  Mankind Could Disappear Globally But The Earth Will Survive Society Collapse: Climate Change , when the climate's stability changes, the results can be catastrophic, resulting in crop failures, famine and desertification Environmental degradation . Collapse can occur when societies exceed the carrying capacity of their environment. This ecological collapse theory points to over-deforestation, water pollution, soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity as causes of precipitation. Oil pollution, China Society Collapse: Inequality and Oligarchy. Wealth and political disparity can be central drivers of social disruption, as well as aristocracy and centralisation of power among leaders. This not only causes social suffering but hampers a society's ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems. For example, the population grows; this exceeds the demand for labour. Workers become cheaper; society becomes top-heavy. This inequality undermines collective solidarity, and political unrest follows. What is government oligarchy? Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); meaning 'few', and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning 'to rule or to command') is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. Protests in Paris Society Collapse: Complexity.  Joseph Tainter, a collapse expert and historian, says that societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy. Another indicator of increasing complexity is called Energy Return on Investment (EROI). This refers to the proportion between the amount of energy produced by raw material and the energy needed to obtain it. Like complexity, EROI seems to have a point at which efficiency decreases. Society Collapse: External Shocks.  In other words, the 'four horsemen': war, natural disasters, starvation and plagues. The Aztec Empire, for example, was destroyed by Spanish invaders. Most of the early agricultural states were volatile due to deadly epidemics. The concentration of people and livestock in walled colonies with poor hygiene made disease outbreaks inevitable and disastrous. Disasters sometimes went hand in hand, as was the case with the Spanish introduction of salmonella into America. Recommended:  Climate Change: Locust Second Wave And A Lockdown Society Collapse: Randomness & Bad Luck.  A statistical analysis of the empires suggests that the collapse is arbitrary and independent of age. Evolutionary biologist and data scientist Indre Zliobaite and her colleagues have observed a parallel pattern in the evolution of species. A simplified explanation for this apparent arbitrariness is the 'Red Queen Effect': if species are continually struggling to survive in a changing environment with numerous competitors, extinction is a consistent possibility. What is the Red Queen effect in evolution? The “Red Queen” hypothesis in evolution is related to the coevolution of species. It states that species must continuously adapt and evolve to pass on genes to the next generation and also to keep from going extinct when other species within a symbiotic relationship are evolving. The Environment Or Us?: Indicators Recommended:  Is Neoliberalism Hurting Our Climate And The Paris Accord? Despite the overload of books and articles, we have no definitive explanation for the collapse of civilisations. What we do know is this: the factors mentioned above can all contribute. Stressors can overrun societal coping capacity, which can cause collapse. To examine a different kind of indicators of danger to see whether collapsing is rising or falling, we show you four possible metrics. These are measured over the past few decades: Temperature is a clear indicator of climate change Inequality is more complicated to calculate. The specific measurement of the Gini index suggests that inequality has reduced slightly worldwide (although it is increasing within countries). But the Gini index can be deceptive because it only measures relative changes in income The rich are becoming richer, which in the past has led to extra pressure on society. Studies show that the EROI for fossil fuels has declined steadily over time as the easiest to reach and most precious reserves are exhausted. Unfortunately, most of the renewable substitutes, such as solar energy, have a significantly lower EROI, mainly because of their energy density and the rare earth metals and production needed to produce them. Climate Change Scenario: Measures Of Resilience The only positive thing is that collapses are not the entire picture. Social elasticity can slow down or prevent the collapse. The economic diversity is more significant than ever. We can cope more than ever, and we have more knowledge than ever. Especially, population groups with more experience may be better able to respond to crises when they occur. Also, the innovation of civilisation is rising. If we look at the collapse and elasticity indicators, we cannot be complacent. If we keep on innovate and diversify like this, we can be optimistic. Nevertheless, the world is deteriorating in areas that have contributed to the collapse of earlier societies. The climate is changing, the difference between rich and poor is growing, the world is becoming more and more complex, and our environmental demands exceed the carrying capacity of the planet. What does elasticity mean? Elasticity is a measure of a variable's sensitivity to a change in another variable. In business and economics, elasticity refers the degree to which individuals, consumers or producers change their demand or the amount supplied in response to price or income changes. Environment Or Us?: We May Fall Down Our weapons are more massive than it used to be (now: nuclear weapons and biological agents instead of arrows and swords). New tools of violence, such as deadly autonomous weapons, may be available in the near future. People are becoming exceptionally specialised and less involved in the manufacture of food and essential goods. Recommended:  Climate Change: Cause Of The Next Global Economic Collapse And a changing climate can destroy our ability to return to simple farming practices. With the expansion of nuclear weapons, we may already have reached the point of civilized 'terminal speed'. Any collapse threatens to be permanent. A nuclear war can lead to an actual risk: either the disappearance of our species or a permanent slingshot, back to the Stone Age.  Climate change is a different kind of threat than what the Maya's dealt with. Now, they are global, quicker, more dangerous and human-driven. A collapse of our civilisation is not unavoidable. History indicates that it is possible, we have the rare advantage of being able to learn from the pieces of the wreckage of societies' past. We know what we have to do, what needs to be done. We need to reduce the emissions, inequalities must become equal, and we have to care more about the environment. Innovation should be stimulated, and we need more diversity in economics. The policy suggestions are there; only the political will is missing. We can invest in recovering better. There are already well-developed ideas to improve the capacity of food and knowledge systems to recover after a disaster. We have to listen to the past, to improve ourselves. Do not walk blindly into the future that will destroy us. Before you go! Recommended:  Economic Growth Is Dead: Welcome To The Circular Economy Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about (y)our society?  What you gain?  Extra:  Global exposure, a valuable backlink! Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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