As the chart below on ‘how systems collapse’ illustrates, the loss of stabilizing buffers goes unnoticed until the entire structure collapses under its own weight.
Disruptive extremes of weather: check
Rising geopolitical tensions with no diplomatic resolution: check
Multiplying scarcities in essential commodities: check
Domestic disorder accelerates as extreme positions harden into irreconcilable conflicts: check
Welcome to the 21st century sequel of the catastrophic 1600s, an extended period of mutually reinforcing crises that overturned regimes and empires from England to China and triggered unremitting misery across much of the human populace. (Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century is a riveting overview of this complex era.)
What can we learn from the catastrophic 1600s? Leading the list: humans don’t respond well to scarcities. They get crotchety, argumentative, and prone to finding ways to become disagreeable rather than agreeable. Their derangement deepens as they form self-reinforcing echo-chambers of the like-minded, and the source of their misfortune shifts from fate to equally fixated human opponents.
Three extended quotes come to mind: the first bitter satirical rant from Mark Twain, the second from Patrick Henry and the third from James Madison:
Mark Twain: “O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire…
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…