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Why Collapse Occurs; Why It May Not Be Far Away

Why Collapse Occurs; Why It May Not Be Far Away

Collapse is a frightening subject. The question of why collapse occurs is something I have pieced together over many years of study from a number of different sources, which I will attempt to explain in this post.

Collapse doesn’t happen instantaneously; it happens many years after an economy first begins outgrowing its resource base. In fact, the resource base likely declines at the same time from multiple causes such as soil erosion, deforestation and oil depletion. Before collapse occurs, there seem to be warning signs, such as:

  • Too much wage disparity
  • Riots and protests by people unhappy with low wages
  • Prices of commodities that are too low for producers that need to recover their costs of production and governments that require tax revenue to fund programs for their citizens
  • An overstretched financial system; conditions ripe for debt defaults
  • Susceptibility to epidemics

Many people have the misimpression that our most important problem will be “running out” of oil. Because of this, they believe that oil prices will rise high if the system is reaching its limits. Since oil prices are not very high, they assume that the problem is far away. Once a person understands what the real issue is, it is (unfortunately) relatively easy to see that the current economy seems to be quite close to collapse.

In this post, I provide images from a recent presentation I gave, together with some comments. A PDF of the presentation can be downloaded here:

Slide 1
Slide 2
Slide 3
Slide 4

In some ways, a self-organizing system is analogous to a dome that might be built with a child’s toy building set (Slide 4). New layers of businesses and consumers are always being added, as are new regulations, more or less on top of the prior structure…

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gail tverberg, collapse, our finite world

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