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2022 — A Year-End Contemplation

Another year has passed (almost), yet the world didn’t collapse. We have got close to nuclear annihilation — probably closer than we’ve ever had — yet we are still here. The long decline of our High-Tech civilization in general, and the Western empire in particular works on different timescales than mere years though. The fall of a civilization does produce some serious humps on the road (some admittedly brutal and terrible), but for most people living through it, it is rather like a long trendline pointing downwards throughout many decades. Let’s review why we always end up in this process, and how it might continue to unfold in our case.

In order to have a better understanding what we are facing in the new year, we have to pull out our ultra-wide angle lens and see how 2022 fits into the large scheme of things. True, we are living through remarkable times, one of great flux and high unpredictability. This time though, it is quite a bit different from previous cases of decline and fall. We are at a turning point in human civilization, one which could only be understood from a truly historic and systems perspective.

Our modern, planetary civilization is complex system with innumerable positive as well as negative feedback loops. There are a multitude of factors, processes and groups of influential people competing with one another, producing a dynamic equilibrium. In a relatively stable world with abundant resources such systems of human beings produce remarkable results, growth and prosperity. Factors, serving as a basis for this growth and which we have took for granted, however, have started to shift under the immense pressure of our industrial activities. The climate has kept deteriorating from its ten millennia long mean in an accelerating way. Resources, we thought were inexhaustible have started to become ever harder to get. Sand. Fresh water. Fossil fuels. Metal ores. All of them.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

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