So, you think I’m a bit mad?

I suspect you think I’m being melodramatic when I talk about society collapsing.  It might seem a tinsy bit far-fetched. I also think that the worse you think climate change is, the more they are likely to try to do something about it.  So I’m bringing in NASA to help outline my case.
I think denial that climate change is serious is a later form of denial that climate change exists in the first place.  I am personally getting over denial that we have only a small chance of dealing with climate change.  I’m now on to planning for the future, of which more in a mo.

So, to NASA.  They have recently released a theoretical report about the common causes of the collapse of civilizations in the past.  It seems that you need to be consuming more of the resources than are available plus be divided into an “elite” minority and the poor commoners.  The report compares those situations with our own, and recommends that we reduce our consumption and inequalities.

Just what I’ve been saying.

So, what does that collapse look like?  I’ll take the Roman Empire as an example.  Before its collapse, it was characterised by a highly-organised and connected trade network, allowing production of commodities such as food in one part of the world to feed those in another, particularly to support large cities.  As law broke down, due to inequality and hyper-inflation, people became more insular and self-sufficient.  Land ownership became the true economy, and freedom and civil rights were lost.  Serfdom began.  Society went backwards and took centuries to recover.  The population dropped dramatically, due to war and the plague.

We have a highly organised and connected trade network.  We are over-consuming resources.  Inequality is increasing.  China is buying up masses of land throughout the globe, including here in the UK.  Aaah!

On a related note, the Transition movement, of which I am part, is actively moving towards a more insular, self-sufficient society, with local currencies, local energy etc.  Do we want this?  Or is it a case of survival of the fittest?

The NASA report is not all doom and gloom, and neither should I be.  Collapse is avoidable, if we drastically reduce resource consumption and find technological ways to continue to survive in a more equitable manner.  I have to admit – I’m not sure we’re built that way.

Anyway, come to Berkhamsted on 21 May to hear the optimistic view from Mark Stevenson, author of “An Optimists Tour of the Future”, when he comes to deliver the third Ashlyns Lecture.

John Bell

Ordinary Bloke


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