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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » We’re All Gonna Die!

We’re All Gonna Die!

Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

For most of us, the idea that civilization itself could disintegrate
probably seems preposterous. Who would not find it hard to think seriously about
such a complete departure from what we expect of ordinary life? What evidence
could make us heed a warning so dire—and how would we go about responding to it?
We are so inured to a long list of highly unlikely catastrophes that we are
virtually programmed to dismiss them all with a wave of the hand: Sure, our
civilization might devolve into chaos—and Earth might collide with an asteroid,
too!

For many years I have studied global agricultural, population, environmental and economic trends and their interactions. The combined effects of those trends and the political tensions they generate point to the breakdown of governments and societies. Yet I, too, have resisted the idea that food shortages could bring down not only individual governments but also our global civilization. I can no longer ignore that risk. Our continuing failure to deal with the environmental declines that are undermining the world food economy—most important, falling water tables, eroding soils and rising temperatures—forces me to conclude that such a collapse is possible.

This is called survival of the fittest, a cold reality that is far from pleasing. Sometimes, things just suck. Resilient Communities and Networks are a solution to something like this. Of course, having a free market is, too (because it optimizes for trade).

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