A recent study published in the Nature Journal Scientific Reports has a truly unfortunate situation to reveal. That is, civilization on Earth has very fewer chances of surviving the upcoming decades, without coming face to face with a dystopian collapse.
A couple of research scientists from UK and Chile conducted a series of experiments using modelling, in order to determine the way that rates of resource consumption, mainly deforestation, affects the sustainability of the human society on the planet. However, the results were rather devastating. According to this study, in the most optimistic scenario, there’s only a 10% chance that Earth’s human population will survive the upcoming 2-4 decades without facing an extreme societal collapse.
According to the researchers, both the statistics and calculations highly suggest an irreversible, dystopian collapse of the civilization during the coming few decades, taking into consideration the rate of growth of population and resource consumption on Earth. They also emphasized on the difficulty of achieving considerable changes of above mentioned parameters, in absence of extremely powerful collective efforts.
Both the scientists involved in this research are mathematical physicists, and they use modelling as a methodology to understand complex systems, be them biological, physical, or social. Also, this highly theoretical approach to this social issue does have its limitations. For example: it’s only realistic that in the upcoming decades, the rate of population growth with increase, and as a result, the rate of consumption of resources, deforestation in particular, will also increase. But in this study, such parameters are kept constant. Also, taking forests as a proxy for all resources that affect a civilization, oversimplifies the situation.
However, when looking at the bigger picture, the research suggests the threat to the human society that comes from large scale deforestation and population collapse.
The reason for considering the rate of consumption of trees as the primary resource supporting life, is that: Trees support natural and human food systems, and play a vital role in many significant processes such as carbon cycle, water cycle, production of oxygen by photosynthesis, prevention of soil erosion etc. Owing to these facts, rapid deforestation clearly means the collapse of the global population.
The study suggests that all the trees on Earth would eventually disappear within the next two centuries, but the rapid decline of trees, and the progressive degradation of the environment will start creating problems long before that.
Since humans possess this priceless ability of innovation and adaption, one might think that modern technology will be able to solve all the environmental issues. However, reports suggest otherwise. In fact, they suggest that more advanced technology means increased harm to the environment, unless a intense paradigm shift happens.
The idea of Fermi paradox, and the reason why we are unable to discover an advanced alien civilization despite high probabilities of existence also bother scientists. However, many argue that it’s rare to be able to reach a technological advancement that is enough to explore such greater expansions of the solar system and the universe, without exhausting their resources. It simply means that before being advanced enough to launch interstellar exploration of such magnitude, there’s a higher that the aliens wipe themselves out.
As researchers suggest, this exactly is what’s happening to earthlings currently, unless we undergo an extraordinary transformation of resource-usage and lifestyle.