Nasa, no longer content with it's mission to bolster Islamic self-esteem, is now in the sociology business, predicting a civilizational collapse. http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/here-s-how-nasa-thinks-society-...
In an upcoming study by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, the space agency, er, Muslim outreach organization funded by U.S. taxpayers and by the National Science Foundation's Safa Motesharrei argues that Western Civilization is going to collapse because of, well, capitalism. It has yet to be released, so I was unable to read and evaluate it (which I may not be able to do when it actually is released as it may be inaccessible.)
First, one must wonder why a space agency is studying societal issues - particularly societal issues from such a neo-Marxist perspective. This is clearly outside of the scope of Nasa's mission. It is also well outside of Nasa's expertise, which is in orbital mechanics, hardware, and planetography and not social and historical forces. Societies are not Newtonian objects; they do not function according to basic laws of physics. This is clearly a case of hockey players trying to figure skate.
Interestingly enough we have to go to the U.K. Guardian to get the meat of the study:
"The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation"
"These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialized countries responsible for both:
"... accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels."
The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
"Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use."
Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period"
First off, this is a mathematical model, much like the models predicting catastrophic global warming. As we have seen such models are particularly static and unidimensional, unable to even predict current climatic conditions. You cannot model reality with just a few variables, which is what the AGW models attempt (unsuccessfully) to do. This sounds like the mother of all over-simplified models; clearly the researchers looked at purely economic and class aspects of society, and did a poor job of even doing that.
Please notice; there is no discussion about morality, or religion, or simple demographics. Rome was a prime example; Rome's fall had a complex root cause involving increasing sexual libertinism, a weakening of the Roman family, the rise of the welfare state (Bread and Circuses), and an attempt to reinvigorate the populace through unrestrained immigration (the barbarian invasions). Roman started down this path when they began dismissing their religion, finding atheism more fashionable and liberating. Rome's traditional virtues became passé' and the new Roman was more interested in his own pleasure than in self sacrifice, family, and honor.
This moral decline was followed by the barbarian invasions. Germanic peoples, pushed westward by the marauding Huns, began filtering into the Empire early in the 4th century. In 376 the Visigoths attacked the Romans and won at Adrianople. After this victory the Emperor Theodosius allowed large numbers of Germanic barbarians to come into the Empire and settle. Why did they want in? They wanted food and protection from the Huns. That they were coming at a time when Rome could least absorb them was most unfortunate for Western Europe at that time. Rome was still largely atheistic, with Christianity having just been decriminalized in 305.
The Vandals sacked Rome in 439 and went on to decimate the Empire's primary agricultural area - North Africa. In 476 (just 100 years after the first invasion) a barbarian king was proclaimed emperor, and Rome was officially fallen.
Yes, Rome did become quite stratified in terms of social class and economics, but which came first, the chicken or the egg? The stratification was not a result of inequitable distribution of resources but rather a result of an overactive government which spent too much money, imposed excessive taxes, and forced Roman freeholders off the land. Rome's endless wars and political infighting cost lots of money, and the Roman Senate was only to happy to impose higher taxes. The ingathering of power to the center disenfranchised the Roman middle class, who found the welfare programs in Rome more appealing than backbreaking labor. And the Emperor Diocletian would cement this into law, making it illegal for plebeians to leave their home towns or change professions from that held by their fathers (thus instituting serfdom). It was government that caused the stratification, not free market forces as suggested by the Nasa group.
And let us not forget cheap labor. Rome had slavery, and this drove down the fair market value of labor across the board. Maintaining a slave economy was expensive, too, requiring a fairly massive system to keep the slaves in place and avoid rebellions (perhaps the best known was the rebellion of Spartacus, who led an army of gladiators out of Rome but then foolishly returned to raid and was subsequently beaten, his men crucified by the thousands.) Displaced Roman yeoman farmers could not find work that paid as well as the "Bread and Circuses" so they essentially quit looking for work. And it also stifled innovation because anything that upset the slave economy imperiled Rome. The Romans invented a prototype steam engine, for instance, but had no industrial revolution because they couldn't conceive of making a machine to do the work of a slave.
But this paper seems to take little of this into account. Instead it speaks of the need to redistribute wealth, which will cause the very decline the authors fear. In point of fact, every nation that has indulged in redistributionist efforts has seen large economic downturns. Just look at the Soviet Union for a model of redistributionist success.
According to the Guardian article:
"The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:
"Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."
This is nothing but a rewarmed version of the Club of Rome Study and "Limits to Growth", the 1970's era leftist call to Malthusian action. We are simply living too well and must curtail our lifestyles. We must slice the pie ever thinner so everyone gets a share, and while we are at it we must accept world government - with the international elites replacing the Bourgeois elites.
The study apparently rejects the idea of economic growth and innovation in favor of "sustainability". It provides intellectual cover for U.N. Agenda 21. http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&nr=23&...
the Specter of Thomas Malthus has loomed over our civilization ever since he published An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, largely because he provided a powerful argument for socialism and the Left to fundamentally reorganize society. Despite apocalyptic claims by followers of Malthus for over two hundred years we have been able to not only provide for an ever expanding population but to increase their standards of living remarkably. History is not on the side of these people.
And that Nasa should argue from a Malthusian perspective is ludicrous. We have barely entered the Space Age. Resources are out there beyond our wildest dreams; all we have to do is go get them. We have a planet a scant 240 thousand miles above our heads, asteroids by the tens of thousands, as well as planets and many moons. We have unlimited energy pouring from the sun available in space. We have room for settlement across the solar system. We are just getting started, and yet Nasa, the agency originally charged with getting us to that point, now wants us to retire from the field, to reduce our civilization to a primitive, zero growth level. Nature abhors zero growth; when you stop growing you start dying. A "sustainable" civilization is one facing the grave.
This study provides a blueprint for civilizational doom, all the while pretending to offer a solution.
Read more from Tim and friends at The Aviary www.tbirdnow.mee.nu