Category Archives: Articles by Colleagues

Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided? Important paper by Ehrlichs

I am including here an important article (click on the link below to download the PDF), which addresses the major concerns regarding possible collapse of the global economic/political system. It paints a grim picture, but is highly recommended reading for all serious researchers concerned about sustainable human futures. I have also cut and pasted the first few paragraphs, below. This was forwarded to the mailing list of the World Futures Studies Federation by Ruben Nelson, Director of Foresight Canada.



Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?

Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Proceedings of the Royal Society

Cite this article: Ehrlich PR, Ehrlich AH. 2013
Can a collapse of global civilization
be avoided? Proc R Soc B 280: 20122845.
Received: 28 November 2012
Accepted: 7 December 2012
Subject Areas:
environmental science
population, consumption, environment,
agriculture, climate, culture
Author for correspondence:
Paul R. Ehrlich


Click for the PDF

Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided, Ehrlich, 2013



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Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies
are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.

1. Introduction
Virtually every past civilization has eventually undergone collapse, a loss of socio-political-economic complexity usually accompanied by a dramatic decline in population size [1]. Some, such as those of Egypt and China, have recovered from collapses at various stages; others, such as that of Easter Island or the Classic Maya, were apparently permanent [1,2]. All those previous collapses were local or regional; elsewhere, other societies and civilizations persisted unaffected. Sometimes, as in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, new civilizations rose in succession. In many, if not most, cases, overexploitation of the environment was one proximate or an ultimate cause [3]. But today, for the first time, humanity’s global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems…