Prediction: collapse by 2040

I think the collapse will begin seven years sooner, myself:

New scientific models supported by the British government’s Foreign Office show that if we don’t change course, in less than three decades industrial civilisation will essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability.

Before you panic, the good news is that the scientists behind the model don’t believe it’s predictive. The model does not account for the reality that people will react to escalating crises by changing behavior and policies.

But even so, it’s a sobering wake-up call, which shows that business-as-usual guarantees the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it: our current way of life is not sustainable.

“The financial and economic system is exposed to catastrophic short-term risks that the system cannot address in its current form,” Dr. Jones told us.

He described GRO’s use of the Agent-Based Model to capture and simulate the multiple factors that led to the 2011 Arab Spring events.

By successfully modeling the “impact of climate-induced drought on crop failures and the ensuing impact on food prices,” he said, the model can then be recalibrated to “experiment with different scenarios.”

    “We ran the model forward to the year 2040, along a business-as-usual trajectory based on ‘do-nothing’ trends?—?that is, without any feedback loops that would change the underlying trend. The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots. In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.”

Another steering committee member raised their hand: “So is this going to happen? Is this a forecast?”

“No,” said Jones. “This scenario is based on simply running the model forward. The model is a short-term model. It’s not designed to run this long, as in the real world, trends are always likely to change, whether for better or worse.”

“Okay, but what you’re saying is that if there is no change in current trends, then this is the outcome?” continued the questioner.

Jones nodded with a half-smile. “Yes,” he said quietly.

In other words, simply running the Agent-Based Model forward cannot generate a reliable forecast of the future. For instance, no one anticipated the pace at which solar and wind energy would become cost-competitive with fossil fuels. And the fact that governments and insurers are now beginning to scope such risks, and explore ways of responding, shows how growing awareness of the risks has the potential to trigger change.

Whether that change is big enough to avoid or mitigate the worst is another question. Either way, the model does prove in no uncertain terms that present-day policies are utterly bankrupt.

The two main factors being left out of the equation are mass migration and war, which are essentially the same thing, the latter being a consequence of the former. As Martin van Creveld has repeatedly observed, we are in a post-Trinitarian War environment; neither the Military nor the State is relevant any more. War is no longer State vs State, but Tribe vs Tribe.

These Tribes can be based on ideology, nationality, race, or religion, or any combination therein. They are identity-tribes. The Islamic State is an amalgamation of ideology and religion whereas the Charleston shootings were purely based on race. This is not asymmetric war as it is conventionally understood, but transgeographical, post-Trinitarian identitarian war. Battlefields, lines, and even armies are irrelevant in this new form of warfare, as the identity tribes to which the soldiers are loyal are more self-defined than externally bestowed.

But the fact that the current system of industrial civilization cannot be expected to survive as it is past 2040 is not insignificant. Yes, people will change their behavior in expectation of it, but if history is a reliable guide, most of those changes will increase the instability of the system, not decrease it.