Mathematician Predicts Utter Collapse of Humanity


This reads like a parody, but apparently it is a real paper:

After running the numbers on a set of four equations representing human society, a team of NASA-funded mathematicians has come to the grim conclusion that the utter collapse of human civilization will be “difficult to avoid.”

The exact scenario may vary, but in the coming decades humanity is essentially doomed to some variant of “Elites” consuming too much, “resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

That is, unless civilization is ready for one of two “major policy changes”: inequality must be “greatly reduced” or population growth must be “strictly controlled.”

There’s more:

The study starts by reducing human civilization into four easy-to-toggle factors: Elites, Commoners, nature and wealth. The paper explains that this was done because “ecological strain” and “economic stratification” are the only two things that consistently plague collapsing societies.

Each factor was then assigned a complex mathematical equation and gathered together in what researchers called the HANDY (Human And Nature Dynamical) model.

The model was then configured to calculate the fate of several types of societies, including the “unequal society,” a system of rich and poor that researchers dubbed the one most “closely reflecting the reality of our world today.”

In the first scenario the population of elites suddenly spikes after 750 years, causing a “scarcity of workers” that sounds the civilization’s death knell by year 1000.

The second, “full collapse” scenario has the elites and commoners irreparably eating up the Earth’s resources after 350 years, leading to a slow bleed that destroys both humans and the planet by year 500.

“It is important to note that in both of these scenarios, the Elites — due to their wealth — do not suffer the detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners,” reads the paper.

When I first read the article I had assumed that humanity would die out in the 2100′s due to unmanageable climate change. Thankfully, we appear to avoid that catastrophe, only to survive another 250 years or so until the elites gobble up all of the wealth/nature and destroy the commoners, eventually leading to their own demise. It’s amazing that these academics believe they can model the next 1000 years of humanity with any degree of accuracy.

You can read a copy of the paper here. It is written with much less of the hyperbole found in reports on it. You will not find the word ‘socialism’ in the paper, though you will find support for reducing population growth and a more ‘equitable’ distribution of natural resources. However, the article above on the paper gets pretty close:

The otherwise obscure report was first made public in a recent column in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper in which environment writer Nafeez Ahmed warned that it constituted a “highly credible wake-up call” and declared that its menu of suggested policy changes were “required immediately.”

In the days since, environmentalists, socialists, hard-line U.S. Republicans and even survivalists have taken up the banner of the 32-page study.

Derrick O’Keefe, the Vancouver-based former editor of, wrote in a Tuesday Twitter post that “this NASA-funded study makes case that future is socialism or extinction.” At about the same time, an anonymous commenter on declared “this is why I keep buying ammo.”

I’m glad to see the inane ramblings of an anonymous commenter are worth the cut in a news article.

Note: For the approximately zero people who care, this post originally stated that this paper was supported with funding by NASA, based off of information in the National Post article also reported in The Guardian. However, a new post on a blog at The Guardian implies (here as well) that NASA had previously provided funding for academics working on the earth-systems ‘HANDY’ model used in the study. They didn’t solicit or provide funding for the specific paper, as NASA clarifies here.


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