NASA is one of the few government agencies that’s worth keeping around, but as an “air” and “space” agency it is poorly equipped to study the history of the rise and fall of past empires. So…
Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse—but it’s also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.
If we’re to avoid their fate, we’ll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.
“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” reads the study. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”
In unequal societies, researchers said, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”
As limited resources plague the working class, the wealthy, insulated from the problem, “continue consuming unequally” and exacerbate the issue, the study said.
Meanwhile, resources continue to be used up, even by the technologies designed to preserve them. For instance, “an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency technology tends to enable increased per capita vehicle miles driven, heavier cars, and higher average speeds, which then negate the gains from the increased fuel-efficiency,” the study said.
The researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.
What’s “handy” is that this government-funded study just happens to line up with what the rigidly ideological president and his party keep saying. Shocking!
It seems clear that now that NASA has been taken out of the manned space flight game, and now that its role in national security and hard-edged exploration is being reduced, it just has too much time on its hands.
Do you want to know a fairly crazy fact about history? We don’t really know why many past civilizations collapsed. Of those whose collapses we do understand, few were simple. Very very few collapsed for one or two reasons, and few collapsed quickly. Some didn’t collapse — they failed to defend themselves and were destroyed. That’s not quite the same thing as a collapse. Some collapsed because of freak natural disasters, and thanks to our present level of technology, such collapses are largely things of the past. Rome collapsed over the course of several centuries, and was split and overrun by enemies, and was betrayed from within. Easter Island’s collapse was pretty quick and fairly easy to explain, but it was also not an empire and was not spread over much territory. But there are many past civilizations that we know little about, how they flourished, and how they died, and how they built what they built while they were still alive (cue the Ancient Aliens guys). It isn’t so much the case that there are gaps in our history. It’s that there is some known history between all the gaps.