Is humanity doomed

The math of the end of mankind

If mathematics can predict mass uprisings, then I also expect it to finally calculate the catastrophe our civilization is headed for: the exploitation of fossil fuels, the littering of the oceans, factory farming, genetic maize, overpopulation, melting of the polar ice caps, surveillance scandals, cyber wars , Fast food, low-cost airlines, and plastic-wrapped bananas. As a naturally gifted pessimist, I have seen the apocalyptic horsemen bring Christmas presents every December for years.

And my negative worldview is not an individual problem, because even NASA can sometimes not sleep out of concern. A current study, financed by NASA Goddard Flight Center, has now provided solid formulas that should prove that our civilization will collapse in the next few decades.

The study is based on a new transdisciplinary calculation model with the beautiful name HANDY (for: 'Human And Nature DYnamical') and was carried out in the lead by the applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei. The sociologists, ecologists and mathematicians involved confirmed that complex, progressive and creative high cultures are doomed to perish. "History shows that ascent and collapse are recurring processes," says the research. Unfortunately, there are no formulas to counter the dilemma.

Human history shows the same model over and over again. When certain variables collapse, a collapse is imminent. For the study, the researchers from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center selected the five risk factors with which they could draw conclusions about the stability of the population: climate change, water supply, population level, agricultural development and energy consumption. That these areas are crucial for the survival of a society and are closely related to its possible collapse has been proven time and again over the past 5,000 years.

"The consumption of resources to an extent that they are not available and the economic, social stratification in rich elites and poor masses can be possible reasons for a civilizational decline," says Motesharrei. The elites (in our case the western industrialized countries ) determine the distribution of resources and take advantage of each other at the expense of the poorer population. Such a two-class development leads to instability, in which the elites do not recognize the signals, however, because they want to keep the current model alive, even if it is Failure is doomed.

The basis for the calculations is the good old model of the predator-prey relationship by Alfred Lotka and Vitto Volterra. Put simply, this scheme says: If the predator has enough prey, its population increases. The consequence of this is that the prey gradually decreases, which in turn has consequences for the predators. A phenomenon that the American snowy owls and lemmings should all too. Obvious analogy of the mathematicians around Moetsharrei: Humans are the robbers and the prey are the natural resources, of which more have been mined in recent years than have been able to grow back.

Unfortunately, technical progress will not save us either - these developments only ride us further into the abyss. "Although it increases the efficiency, the use of resources, it enables the elites to consume more of it."

"A closer look at today's reality shows that a collapse can hardly be avoided".

This conclusion of the study is also joined by the realization that the elites are doing everything they can to make it impossible to delay the downfall. After all, with more conscious behavior, this collapse can be postponed - and that is urgently needed. Despite their gloomy forecasts, the researchers encourage people to be more economical with natural resources and to distribute them more fairly among the social classes. Other empirically oriented studies come to similar results, such as the study by the British Ministry of Science, which expects a profound crisis in 15 years' time, triggered by food, water and energy shortages.

With the powerful combination of historical and mathematical evidence, I can now safely assume that we are at exactly the same point as earlier high cultures before their demise. I can already see the end waving his bony hand.

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