Collapse

Look around, look at what is happening outside and think. Put down the distractions and think. Is this normal? Flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, extinction, mass illness, depression and anxiety hitting record numbers. People struggle to pay the bills, costs keep rising, wages stay the same. What is going on? Are we living in a time of collapse?

Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that we live in a closed system and that system is starting to get more hostile. The weather is not making sense any more, food prices are set to skyrocket, the west is crumbling. The East is already a few years ahead of us down this path. We are standing on a precipice and I don’t think there is a way back from it.

I don’t want to come across as a pessimist but I really think that we have passed a point of no return. This house of cards we built is on the verge of crumbling, all it will take is one nudge.

I like to think of scenarios that could throw us into a total system failure, scenarios that might happen in the near future. Thought experiments can be fun, the problem with this one is that a lot of these are starting to seem more and more plausible.

Here are some of my near term collapse scenarios that I think we might be facing in the next decade.

Runaway Warming – Right now the carbon in the atmosphere is over 400 PPM, for context 350 PPM was thought to be a point of no return in terms of warming. The level keeps going up. With warmer temperatures you encounter the melting of permafrost, this melt will release untold amounts of methane into the atmosphere, which will only help contribute to more warming.

Essentially what you get is a feedback loop (like when you hold a microphone up to a speaker). This will move the timetable for global warming, sea level rise and all the insane weather that comes along with that up from 100 years to 10. Crop failures will lead to rising food prices, climate migration will cause international tensions to boil over. Powerful countries will struggle to hold onto their power while weaker countries will collapse.

Mass starvation, conflict and poverty. This scenario will see most of Eurasia crumble. The United States will completely militarize its Southern boarder to keep the waves of migrants back. Xenophobia will lead to the election of more authoritarian leaders. The central United States will crumble even further into economic collapse as farming becomes near impossible. The west coast of Canada and the United states will be in a state of near constant forest fire. The East coasts will be bombarded by hurricanes.

Political unrest will gradually increase as battle lines dig in even more. Russia will do its best to stoke these fires in an effort to gain an upper hand globally as they will be hit even harder by the damage to the food supply.

After a few years the cities will resemble a scene from “Children of Men”. Unemployment will rise as global trade dries up, this combined with increasing food prices drives more people into poverty. Desperate people turn to crime and the police start to lose control.

A slow slide into the loss of state control. The state will just become another faction fighting for scraps among the ruins.

Global Pandemic – This one is a lot faster moving than even runaway warming. In the summer of 2001 the department of defense ran a detailed simulation called “Operation Dark Winter”. This was done to see how effective the response would be in the face of a pandemic in the United States. It took three medium sized cities and introduced smallpox. In a matter of weeks society had fallen apart.

Hospitals were overwhelmed, the media fueled mass panic, the economy ground to a halt. At the end of the simulation the people running it were shocked by how rapidly things had fallen apart. Keep in mind, this was smallpox, a disease we have a cure and treatments for. A disease that kills “only” 30% of the infected. The Spanish Flu killed 20% of the people infected. Either of these lethality rates would drive us to a collapse.

Now imagine a disease with a 60% lethality, that is easily transmitted. Something like the strains of Ebola we are seeing emerge in the Congo. Hospitals are at capacity on a good day in most big cities. Global travel makes moving the disease easy. Add in a few natural disasters to hamper responses (like the flooding happening now in the Midwest) and you have a near perfect collapse scenario.

In a matter of months cities would be ghost towns, governments would be a shell and people would be scavenging in the streets for canned food as supply lines would have collapsed. These diseases exist, we have come close to outbreaks like this a few times. Now we also have the addition of people who don’t believe in vaccination. Anti-vaccers would exacerbate an outbreak.

This is one that I am starting to think is a matter of when not if. I don’t know, the more I read about the viruses that are out there the more scared I get about this potential.

Economic meltdown – the recession of 2008-2009 was halted and cushioned by central banks slashing interest rates and giving out free loans to failing corporations. This time there is nothing to slash, interest rates are still at historic lows, countries are more in debt than ever and real people have yet to recover from the damage this recession did to their earning power.

Another recession would be chaos and most likely become a full blown depression. It would be fueled by other factors happening globally (trade wars, rising food prices, falling employment) and would be near impossible to dig out of. The great depression, in all reality, was reversed by WW2, the deadliest war in human history. What would need to happen to get us out of an even worse depression?

Rather than a war (with nuclear arms a conventional war is far too risky) I think that things would just fall apart. An economic meltdown leading to a total collapse of society.

A combination of the above – This one is probably how things will play out. It is rare for one single cause to lead to collapse, most (if not all) of the times a collapse is fueled by a combination of factors. I see these factors more and more. The economy is propped up on cheap debt, super bugs are evolving faster than we can cure them and the climate is warming faster than we had anticipated. No one is coming to save us, we are walking to the edge of a cliff.

One push on any of these three scenarios would fuel of the other two, ramping up the race to the bottom. There is no easy way to stop this.


Normally this would be the part where I give some hope, say something like “We can still stop this if we protest and vote”, but I don’t think we can. Obviously nothing is guaranteed and people are going to fight to save society any way they can but we really are a coin toss away from doom. I honestly think we are looking at 50/50 odds of reaching 2100 as a species.

My suggestion? Learn some survival skills, store some food and water, get ready to leave the cities and save some money in the form of gold and silver. Otherwise, just go about your life. Try to be environmentally conscious and hope that things pan out in a better way than I think they will. In no way am I thinking it’s time to go full “doomsday prepper” mode, but maybe be ready a little bit.

Things can change. Surprise events can happen in both a positive and negative way. Maybe Pakistan will nuke India tomorrow, or maybe someone will discover a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Anything can happen, so live the best life you can while you can. And try to enjoy these good times because you never know when they might end.

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