Dark Age 2.0: The Coming Collapse of Civilization
By S.J. Smith & J. W. Smith - July 13, 2023

*Editor’s note: This is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily Bell or its affiliates. 

Something more than death has happened. … We are looking upon the uttermost finality which can be written, glimpsing the darkness which will not know another ray of light. We are in touch with the reality of extinction.

       –   Henry B. Hough (1896-1985) [2]


In this paper we will examine the environmental and related socio-political factors, the horsewomen of the apocalypse, that that now threatens to bring about a collapse of civilization.  The collapse of civilization can be defined as a breakdown of existing social order, cultural, social and political institutions, and a crash of population levels. [3] The likely coming collapse of civilization is surely one of the most astonishing of the blackholes of modern thought, since if the dire predictions of certain (minority) climate scientists, environmentalists and dissent thinkers, on a wide number of issues, are correct, the techno-industrial world as we know it is set to come crashing down, without some sort of technological and social miracle.  It is argued here that the biophysical evidence alone, indicates that such salvation is most unlikely. The psychological human capacity to make large-scale changes, it will be argued, is also bleak, for too many people are weak, cowardly, and easily suppressed and deceived as events of the last three years demonstrated; hence they are not called “sheeple” for nothing, and it is not surprising that the globalist wolves, prey upon them, feasting on their flesh and “souls.”

Worse still, it will be seen that the proposals to solve the environmental crisis, being put forward by various globalist organizations, who have a less-than-hidden agenda for increased domination of the world, will be a disaster for most people, especially the working class and poor. This is the hypocritical world of billionaires flying to lavish talkfests in high carbon producing jets, to tell the world that it is time to stop easting meat, and embrace insect eating, while these elites gorge themselves at such conferences with fine foods and exquisite meats, and after dinner sample high class hookers. For these opportunistic globalists and billionaires, climate change, for example, is a convenient political weapon; if there was evidence or global cooling, that too would be used in their tool kit. Thus, the mere fact that some globalist organization accepts that there is an environmental crisis, is not a reason for accepting the opposite conclusion, merely if one objects to the policies of such organizations. Those policies deserve an independent evaluation and critique. The scientific evidence needs to be looked at, free of politics as much as possible.

Further, while environmental issues have come to be regarded as “suspect” by many conservatives due to the by the domination of the field by the Left, it by no means follows that even if they are right about the direct state of the environment, that their globalist policies must be accepted. Indeed, one of us (JWS) has been arguing for decades that the environmental crisis undermines cosmopolitanism and globalism and supports localism and self-reliance, but it is too late for that now. We contend that environmental matters are so dire now, that the point of no return has most likely been met, so “punishment” policies such as banning cars for the peasants, and meat, are little more than pissing into the desert sands.

The conclusion of this paper is that the modern world, techno-industrial society, will collapse, perhaps as soon as 2040, with a bang and a whimper, and a great die off of much of humanity likely to begin in the decades following the collapse; it is all going to be over before the various planet-saving programs can work their supposed “magic.” Decay, and disintegration is already occurring.

The puzzling thing to explain psychologically is how this collapse of civilization has been allowed to happen and why there is not a greater level of angst among people, especially the intelligentsia, than exists at present, since the human legacy is now at stake. This is perhaps the most surprising of all the paradoxes of modernity, since a collapse of the global ecosystems, at least defined relative to human life, will bring about the end of modern techno-industrial civilization, and could produce a world depicted in apocalyptic fiction. While there are relatively small numbers of researchers confronting this extreme existential threat, most university academics, and so-called public intellectuals, and of course, the political class, are silent and continue with business as usual, with their well-payed jobs, relative the the rest of suffering humanity.  Those that do speak on this topic, are always cautious not to commit the ultimate sin of being “pessimistic,” least it causes the masses to, not panic, but to go into an even deeper coma. Or, if insane policies are put forward, such as shutting down farms as proposed in the Netherlands, or the culling of cows in Ireland, at a time of impending food shortages, the elites fear that the plebs, us, may rise up against their masters. Of course, there are various Left-wing groups who do preach about a coming climatic apocalypse, and see this as a convenient way to ensure their will to power, or at least will to attention, while being glued to highways or art galleries, like woke flies on fly paper. But even if sincere, few of these protesters deal seriously with the prospects of civilizational collapse; the message is to ecologically repent now before the ultimate punishment of environmental Armageddon. It seems to be merely a revival of the fun-time uni. protests of the 1960s and 1970s, before graduating and getting a good job and joining “the system,” and making their contribution as “white ants.”

We do not dogmatically preach doomsday, like many radical Left-wing groups; our conclusions are based upon the science as we read it, and could well be wrong. For example, there are problems with inferences made from various climate change computer models, which face difficulties dealing with the physics of clouds for example, with clouds either amplifying or dampening climatic change effects. [4] That scientific skepticism is in principle correct, but for all we know, even given this uncertainty, the environmental crisis could be even worse than the existing models predict. [5] As will be seen from the discussion to follow, climate change is but one horsewoman of the apocalypse, and there are reinforcements of doom. If ecological disaster awaits, we will soon find out, the hard way, and soon. Conservative climate skeptics are free to see the paper as a reductio ad absurdum of the present globalist take on climate change if they prefer.

The Very Idea of Collapse

There has been intellectual interest in the rise and fall of civilizations at least from the time of Plato (428-347 B.C.) and other ancient Greek philosophers who speculated about various ages, and lost Atlantis. The issue was discussed in other cultures as well, including the Arabic and Chinese, [6] and thus has been of perennial interest to thinkers. Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) in his treatise, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [7], outlined the forces leading to the fall of the Roman empire, if not “collapse.” The Roman Empire covered 1.9 million square miles in 390 AD, but by 395 it fell to 770,000 square miles and by 476 AD, zero. [8] Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and Vandals in 455. [9] Ancient Rome had engaged in imperial expansion with a vast army needed to maintain its empire, and experienced expanding costs and rising inflation. There was a subdivision of provinces with bureaucracies that were also an economic drain. Rome thus was weakened economically, ideologically and culturally, and was vulnerable in the end to barbarian assault.

The field of collapseology, the study of civilization collapse, tends to adopt a definition of “civilization” along the lines of “society with agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in its geographical region and a continuous political structure.” [10] Civilizations have functional cities, concentrated settlements with “political consolidation, economic specialization, social stratification, some sort of monumental architecture, and a flowering of artistic and intellectual endeavors.” [11] “Collapse is the breakdown of civilization,” a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity. Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence. [12] A “Dark Age” may follow this loss of socio-political complexity with frequent violence in the struggle for survival. [13]

The average lifespan of civilizations, according to Kemp’s study, is 336 years. [14] Some civilizations eventually recover and rebuild, such as China [15], or evolve into something new, such as Europe. [16] However, others faced permanent collapse, often with a violent ending, such Easter Island, where resource depletion ultimately led to the people having no wood to build boats to escape the island and they turned upon each other in warfare.  [17] Arguably, contemporary examples of state failure have occurred in parts of the horn of Africa, where the rule of law became replaced by the rule of the warlord. [18]


Thus, states are not immortal and can, and have collapsed. Oswald Spengler in The Decline of West [19] saw all civilizations including the West subject to the rise and fall, or life and death, a “waxing and waning of organic forms.” [20] The central thesis, that social entities such as civilizations are “organic forms” was a popular idea at a time when metaphysical reasoning was taken particularly seriously in Germany, but today in our postmodern world this sort of philosophy has fallen on cognitive hard times with a more “scientific” empirical approach to matters being the norm, as discussed, in this present essay.

Arnold Toynbee, in A Study of History [21] agreed with Spengler about the rise and fall of all civilizations, seeing this in general coming from the diminishing creative power to solve problems, resulting in a lack of faith and trust of the majority of people in their leaders, and a breakdown of social unity in society as a whole. [22] Sounds familiar! Toynbee compares the breakdown and collapse of societies and civilizations to that of climbers who fall to their death. [23] Unlike with Spengler, the breakdown comes internally, with major challenges that failed to be answered and problems solved.

The problem “receives some tardy and imperfect answer or else brings about the destruction of the society.” [24] This is a form of social suicide and self-destruction. A development of this “failure to rise to the challenge of the times,” and adequately handle disaster especially regarding the ecological crisis (discussed shortly) has been made by Jared Diamond in Collapse [25] and Ferguson in Doom. [26]

A related school of thought in collapseology is that internal factors result in a drift to failure. [27] Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies [28], sees social collapse as arising from the law of diminishing returns. Increased complexity has increased costs per capita and “[a]t some point in the evolution of a society, continued investment in complexity as a problem-solving strategy yields a declining marginal return.” [29] Tainter’s work was featured in a cover story edition of New Scientist, April 5, 2008: “The Collapse of Civilization: It’s More Precarious Than We Realized,” [30] and has been developed further. [31] However, the idea that complex systems are vulnerable to breakdown was argued for earlier by Roberto Vacca in The Coming Dark Age: “our great technological systems of human organization and association are continuously outgrowing ordered control; they are now reaching critical dimensions of instability.” [32]

These schools of collapseology are not necessarily inconsistent, since a holistic account would propose that there are both internal and external forces producing collapse so that “synchronous failure” [33] would arise from the converging and compounding crises [34] that humanity faces, such as all aspects of the ecological/environmental crisis from soil erosion, water quality and quantity depletion, biodiversity destruction,   climate change, and ethno-racial conflict [35],  leading to a collapse of techno-industrial civilization. [36] Some, such as Umair Haque (journalist) see this process of process of ecologically-based civilization collapse occurring now, but “some of us just don’t know it yet,” [37] a view also taken by Near-Term-Human-Extinction proponent Guy McPherson. [38]

Paul and Anne Ehrlich put the odds of avoiding a starvation-driven collapse of civilization due to a perfect storm of environmental problems arising from over-population and over-consumption at just 10 percent, with a collapse of civilization in the next few decades.  [39] While the Ehrlich’s have been very wrong before in their predictions, as conservatives always remind us, this time, unfortunately, on the present business-as-usual scenario of growing fossil fuel use, continuous economic and resource depletion, they are most likely right. Motesharrei et al., using the HANDY computer model based upon a predator-prey model with humans as “predator” and nature as “prey” concluded that with economic stratification and unconstrained resume use, social/civilizational collapse occurred with decades. [40] Herrington [41] using 2009 data applied to the model of the world economy, used in D. H. Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth (1972) (dismissed by many conservatives, as the research was commissioned by the Club of Rome, and hence, false by definition)[42] and found that on a business-as-usual scenario of experimental economic growth and intense fossil fuel use, a collapse of global civilization would occur around 2040, long before the Meadows et al. (1972) prediction of a collapse by the mid-to-late 21st century. This conclusion is supported by other research, [43] some of which will now be elaborated upon in the following discussion.


The Coming of Hellhole Earth

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts

And I looked, and behold a pale horse

And his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him.

-Johnny Cash, The Man Comes Around (2002)

            As noted in the discussion so far, in the context of all cogent analyses of the ecological crisis must be the question of the limits to growth; can there be unending growth on a finite planet? The phrase “limits to growth” was popularized by the 1972 report, The Limits to Growth, which was commissioned by the Club of Rome, and as we have said, this is a red flag for many conservatives, so beware. The Limits to Growth was itself modest, predicting that limits, and possible collapse, would occur by 2072 on a business-as-usual scenario. Many from the Right dismiss the report because the Club of Rome is seen as politically problematic, to them part of a grand conspiracy; but even if so, the report should be considered on its merits, independent of those concerns.

More recent work in this research tradition is much more pessimistic, and is not associated with the Club of Rome. For example, Australian scientist Graham Turner, Is Global Collapse Imminent? (Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, August 2014) [44], predicts a collapse of the global economy and environment by 2030 on the “business as usual” high growth/fossil fuel intense scenario, with a rapid rise in mortality, meaning a vast die off the human population. Turner’s conclusion that a collapse of civilization is coming on the business as usual scenario, is accepted by the Global Sustainability Institute of Anglia Ruskin University: “the data available to the present day agrees worryingly well with the projections of (Turner, 2008). …  For every resource examined, the overall trend is one of more expensive extraction and increasing prices. In addition, the environmental damage caused by the use of these resources is becoming increasingly expensive – in particular climate change and biodiversity loss.” [45]

Turner’s analysis is consistent with the global footprint analysis, that sees that an ecological overshoot has already occurred, that humanity is drawing upon ecological capital such that if every person on the planet consumed as much as the average US/Australian citizen, then it would take the resources of four Earths to sustain them. [46]

It is also consistent with the report: A. Jones (et al.), Resource Constraints: The Evidence and Scenarios for the Future, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, Anglia Ruskin University, January 2013. [47] The report stated: “Global demand for food is on the rise, driven by unprecedented growth in the world’s population and widespread shifts in consumption patterns as countries develop.” Dr. A. Jones, the Institute’s director, noted that on a “business as usual trajectory,” by the year 2040, food riots would erupt and a collapse of  society would occur, as food production fell behind consumption. He said: “The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots.” [48] Dr Jones told Insurge Intelligence:  “We ran the model forward to the year 2040, along a business-as-usual trajectory based on ‘do-nothing’ trends — that is, without any feedback loops that would change the underlying trend. The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots. In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.” [49] Indeed, the executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program, David Beasley, said on September 22, 2022, that there is already signs of the coming of “hell on earth,” with the present  crisis of fertilizer disruptions and supply issues, caused by the Ukraine War, leading to 345 million people facing a food shortage, and 50 million people in 45 countries facing famine. [50]

David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, in a Policy Paper of the Australian National Centre for Climate Restoration (May, 2019) [51], based upon a study of the climate change literature, have concluded that the climate change literature, particularly the IPCC reports, have a one-sided reliance upon general climate models, which while important, do not fully incorporate positive feedback mechanisms, compounding extreme climatic events, and abrupt and irreversible climatic changes. [52] For example, the IPCC’s   Fifth Assessment Report  (2014) projected a sea-level rise of 0.55-0.82 meters by 2100, but maintained that reliable evaluation of levels beyond that range could not be made, where the less conservative  comparison, US Department of Defence scenarios is a  two-meter rise by 2100, with the extreme scenario of  2.5 metres by 2100. [53] Further, the IPCC has put the 1.5 C level of dangerous climate change occurring at about 2040 on the business-as-usual scenario of a temperature rise of ~ 0.2 C per decade, although other sources who consider factors neglected by the IPCC see the 1.5 C threshold being reached by around 2030. [54] Climate change is a “near-to-mid-term existential threat” to humans, with a high likelihood of the collapse of techno-industrial civilization by 2050 on the business as usual scenario of high economic growth and fossil fuel use, they believe. To prevent this, there must be a wartime level of response to transform the present industrial system into a zero emissions one. The alternative is bleak, for even with a 2 C warming, over a billion people will need to be relocated, but with warming beyond that, “the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model, with a high likelihood of human civilisation coming to an end.” [55]

It is also relevant to note that the consumer society may have a built-in collapse mechanism, showing that civilization in many ways may be intrinsically self-destructive. The famous mice utopia experiment of John B. Calhoun, involved setting up mice in a society with no natural selection and no predators, a model of modern human society. It was found that after some point the vitality of the mice decreased, with more elderly and senile mice, and some males making no attempt to copulate, females becoming aggressive and attacking the young, and ultimate collapse and die off occurring. Calhoun hypothesized that this was due to overcrowding. [56] However, more recent experiments involving the relaxation of natural selection against deleterious mutations have been conducted without overcrowding, producing the same result, indicating that it is probably the relaxation of natural selection which kills off the populations: “The results of our structured population model indicate that when a population’s burden of spiteful mutations increases beyond a certain point, population collapse ensues, consistent with declining individual-and group-level fitness.” [57] The relaxation of selection against “mildly deleterious mutations” in modern human populations is viewed as having a genetically eroding effect upon the “baseline human condition.” [58]


Resource limitations are a key aspect of the limits to growth. The matter of impending resource depletion, such as oil (“peak oil”) has been extensively debated, as the capitalist super-class engage in one “last burst of profiteering” before it all goes bust. [59] The ruling elites too will have none of this “limits to growth” nonsense. The US Energy Department has said that the US is now the world’s top oil producer, producing more than 11.3 million barrels a day, with Russia’s 11.2 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia’s 10.4 million barrels a day, and they expect the production rate to continue, forever. [60]

But, is difficult-to-get oil, like shale oil, an eternal salvation for the system? First, that such oil is being sought indicates that the low hanging oily fruit has long gone, otherwise why seek oil which is harder than past oil to get, increasing production costs?  The core assumption made by the unconventional oil champions is that current output levels will continue, but this is unjustified. [61] Unlike the depletion of conventional oil, which follows a bell-shaped, Gaussian curve, unconventional oil such as shale oil follows a hyperbolic curve, where around 80 percent of the total output is achieved in the first two years, followed then by rapid decline. This creates the “Red Queen” syndrome, of needing constant drilling to keep up the output. In the not-too-distant future, this bubble, like all the other bubbles, will burst. [62] The Wall Street Journal has reported that US oil shale producers have overstated output figures by up to 10 percent, with some individual companies overstating by 50 percent. [63] The social breakdown alone arising from peak oil and the resource crisis are sufficient to plunge us into a new Dark Age it has been argued, since humanity has no real “plan B” and is a junkie for fossil fuel use. [64]

Ecological Catastrophe

Although the possibility of the collapse of human civilization is not insignificant by way of accidents, nuclear war, or cosmic events, one of the core concerns of many scientists is the environmental crisis. The human impact upon the planet is so immense today that some scientists have defined the present geological era as the “Anthropocene,” an era of human-caused changes to the geophysical environment. [65] Global climatic change is one of these changes, but there are other interrelated impacts, such as what has been viewed by various scientists as a “sixth mass extinction,” a “biological annihilation where millions of populations of plants and animals have been lost, due to human overpopulation and overconsumption.” [66]

For example, according to Ceballos (et al.), “We find that the rate of population loss in terrestrial vertebrates is extremely high – even in “species of low concern.” In our sample, comprising nearly half of known vertebrate species, 32% (8,851/27,600) are decreasing; that is, they have decreased in population size and range. In the 177 mammals for which we have detailed data, all have lost 30% or more of their geographic ranges and more than 40% of the species have experienced severe population declines (> 80% range shrinkage). Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.” [67]

These conclusions are consistent with the biodiversity declines observed by Bogoni (et al.), that mammal populations in South America’s Atlantic Forest, have been halved since first colonization in the 1500s. [68] The Amazon ecosystem could collapse, on the business-as-usual scenario of species loss, in less than 50 years. [69] Two-thirds of the world’s original tropical rainforest cover has been destroyed or degraded. [70] There are at least 19 collapsing Australian ecosystems, such as the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin, mangroves in the gulf of Carpentaria and the conifer forests in Tasmania.  [71] According to the Swiss Re  Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services Index (BES), biodiversity decline threatens collapse in one-fifth of countries. [72] Looked at alternatively, only three percent of the world’s ecosystems are ecologically intact., with the biosphere being altered by an “unparalleled degree.” [73]

Since 1500, 322 species of terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct, and there has been a 25 percent average decline in abundance of the rest of the species. [74] At present 25 percent of all species are in danger of extinction, and the global rate of species extinction is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years. [75] For example, there has been a 45 percent decline in abundance of 67 percent of invertebrate species. Almost one-third of all freshwater fish species face extinction. [76] Over 21 percent  of reptile species are also threatened with extinction. [77] For insects, a German study found a 75 percent reduction in flying insects over the last 27 years (to 2017), which the researchers thought could, if such trends continued and were widespread, lead to an ecological catastrophe.   [78]

Bee populations continue to face colony collapse disorder, which threatens food supplies across the world. [79] The Bees Under Siege from Habitat Loss, Climate Change and Pesticides (April, 2019) report by WWF and Buglife, [80] examined the ecological threats that bees in the east of England face, finding that many species of bees are on the verge of extinction, with 25 species (11 percent) threatened; 17 species (7 percent) “regionally extinct”; and 31 species (14 percent) of “conservation concern.” [81]

Some scientists are predicting that the world’s insect populations could be wiped out within a century, with the extinction rate of insects being eight times greater than that of mammals. [82] A recent study by Sànchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys, predicts that within a few decades, 40 percent of the world’s insect species will be threatened with extinction. [83]

The comprehensive study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES), the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [84], has put starkly the case that biodiversity loss is as much an existential threat as climate change. Sir Robert Watson, the overall chair of the study, has been quoted as saying: “We are at a crossroads. The historic and current degradation and destruction of nature undermine human well-being for current and countless future generations. … Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment.” [85] The report concluded that due to human impact upon biodiversity a million species are at risk of extinction, with 25 per cent of species in assessed animal and plant groups under threat. Climate change is one of the key drivers of extinction:

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and the fires, floods and droughts that they can bring, have increased in the past 50 years, while the global average sea level has risen by between 16 and 21 cm since 1900, and at a rate of more than 3 mm per year over the past two decades. These changes have contributed to widespread impacts in many aspects of biodiversity, including species distribution, phenology, population dynamics, community structure and ecosystem function. According to observational evidence, the effects are accelerating in marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and are already impacting agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and nature’s contributions to people. The compounding effects of drivers such as climate change, land-/sea-use change, overexploitation of resources, pollution and invasive alien species are likely to exacerbate the negative impacts on nature, as seen in different ecosystems including coral reefs, the Arctic systems and savannas. [86]

Leading biodiversity researcher, Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University was quoted in the media as saying: “Humanity unwittingly is attempting to throttle the living planet and humanity’s own future …The biological diversity of this planet has been really hammered, and this is really our last chance to address all of that.” [87] According to Bologna and Aquino, there is less than a 10 percent chance, the “most optimistic estimate,” to survive a catastrophic biodiversity collapse. [88]

Scientific research confirms the adverse impact that climate change is, and will have, upon biodiversity sustainability. For example, a study by Strona and Bradshaw [89], examined via various computer models, how extreme environmental change could result in an “extinction domino effect,” where because species are interconnected in a web of life, the extinction of less-tolerant species could have a knock-on effect leading to the extinction of other species upon which they depend, so-called co-extinction. It was found from the modelling that a rise in the global average temperature of 5-6 C would be sufficient to lead to the extinction of most life on Earth including humans. Even some of the more conservative organisations predict climate change of that extent. Jumping ahead of ourselves, but not without justification or relevance, BP in its Energy Outlook 2030, sees rapid economic growth continuing, by the use of unconventional oil and fossil fuels, with 15 percent more oil, 26 percent more coal and 46 percent more natural gas, being used by 2030. They predict that this intense use of fossil fuels will lead to at least 4 C warming. [90] The International Energy Agency (IEA) in Re-Drawing the Energy-Climate Map (2013), sees intense fossil fuel use, especially coal use in China, as leading to a global temperature rise of 3.6 to 6 C, with 3.5 C by 2040; 4 C by 2050 and 6 C by 2100. [91] Dr Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University believes that leaking methane from the multitude of shale gas wells and fracking, will push pass the two degree threshold in as little as 10-15 years. [92] This alone would put humanity on the path to extinct, but there is many other factors yet to consider, making matters many times worse. [93]

A “doomsday letter” signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries, sounded the alarm about the creation of an “irretrievably mutilated planet” on the present scenario of high growth and fossil fuel use, with an almost certain collapse of human techno-industrial civilization: [94]

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse … Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels… deforestation … and agricultural production – particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption … Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century. [95]


However, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI), could occur from faster, more explosive events, such as the well-discussed likelihood of nuclear war, and from a new “Carrington Event,” [96] a solar EMP (electromagnetic pulse), or coronal mass ejection (CME), from the sun. The 1859 Carrington Event caused telegraph lines to catch on fire, but there was not the vulnerable electric infrastructure existing then that exists now. On July 23, 2012 a CME of near-Carrington Event proportions, with the energy of a billion hydrogen bombs, narrowly missed the Earth, and could have ended modern civilization, possibly forever, killing off up to 90 percent of the human population from disease and starvation. [97] At best, modern electronic infrastructure would be fried, plunging the world into literally a new Dark Age, instantly. And on March 12, 2023, a CME from the Sun, fortunately erupted on the side of the Sun opposite the Earth, which was estimated to be 10 to 100 times more powerful than the 1859 Carrington event, indicating that doomsday could be, from a cosmic perspective, any day. [98]

The US National Infrastructure Advisory Council, Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage: How to Strengthen the Capacities of the Nation, (December 2018), said that, “[the] nation does not have the ability to withstand a catastrophic power outage of a magnitude beyond the modern experience – one that exceeds prior events in severity, scale, duration, and consequence.” [99] There will be a cascading loss of critical infrastructural services such as sewerage, water, fuel, energy and health care. In the 2018 report, Electromagnetic Defense Task Force, by Major David Stuckenberg, Ambassador R. James Woolsey, and Colonel Douglas DeMaio, it is stated:

While EMS [electromagnetic spectrum] vulnerabilities and threats have matured, national and even international capabilities to deny or mitigate such threats and vulnerabilities remain highly dispersed or incomplete. In some areas, there is a complete absence of strategy. In other cases, traditional deterrence efforts afford little to no utility in preventing adverse enemy action in the EMS. In many respects, this is not dissimilar from deterrence activities in cyber space—which are almost completely ineffective. … Unlike some tactical gray zone threats, strategic EMS gray zone challenges can conceivably threaten a nation’s survival. Gray zone EMS threats, such as EMP, were addressed by the commander of the United States Strategic Command, General John Hyten, USAF, during his remarks at the Air Force Association Convention on 20 September 2017, when he noted, ‘EMP is a realistic threat and it’s a credible threat.’ General Hyten went on to note that civil society is not prepared to address the challenges associated with an EMP attack.” [100]


Other smaller CME events have occurred since the 2012 CME, [101] and the probability of another Carrington Event hitting directly is high, estimated to be 12 percent per annum. [102] One aspect of concern here is the impact that such a crash would have upon the world’s nuclear power plants, for if the infrastructure allowing fuel for backup generators ceases to operate [103], there could well be over 450 + Chernobyls, the “open-air super reactor spectacular,” as the zirconium cladding ignites when exposed to air, spraying deadly radioactivity all over the Earth. [104] This hyper-disaster, “will end the industrialized world as we know it, incurring almost incalculable suffering, death and environmental destruction on a scale not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.” [105] This could also result from a weapons-based EMP attack. [106]

And as has also been said, and we repeat for emphasis, on 23 July, 2012 a CME almost as powerful as the Carrington Event, with the energy of a billion hydrogen bombs narrowly missed the Earth. If it had directly hit, it would have disabled any device that plugged into a wall socket, according to NASA. [107] A conservative estimate is that it could take 4-10 years to repair the damage done by a Carrington Event today, and not at all if the March 12 2023 CME had directly hit. [108] CME events occur regularly. On January 30, 2022 a CME burnt up 40 of 49 Star Link satellites; there was radio blackouts from another CME in April 2022. [109] A CME can strike earth without warning. [110]

The US electronic infrastructure (and the grids of most Western countries such as Australia) are more vulnerable to EMP attacks than is often thought:

Nuclear plants depend on standby batteries and backup diesel generators. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem…

If the spent fuel rod pools at the country’s 104 nuclear power plants lose their connection to the power grid, the current regulations aren’t sufficient to guarantee those pools won’t boil over – exposing the hot, zirconium-clad rods and sparking fires that would release deadly radiation …

A report by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory said that over the standard 40-year license term of nuclear power plants, solar flare activity enables a 33 percent chance of a long-term power loss, a risk that significantly outweighs that of major earthquakes and tsunamis. [111]


As has been said, but is horrific enough as well to re-emphasize, the worst-case scenario from a New Carrington Event is a grid-down scenario where once nuclear reactors back-up generators run out of fuel (trucks being out of operation) the water covering the spent fuel rods in the fuel ponds will boil away. This will lead to meltdowns in all of the world’s nuclear reactors resulting in widespread contamination of most of the planet and a great die off. [112] But a die off of how many?

According to Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former Director of US Central Intelligence, a EMP occurrence of the Carrington Event level, whether by warfare or from the Sun, could “collapse electric grids and life-sustaining critical infrastructure worldwide, putting at risk the lives of billions.” [113] The EMP would cripple, if not destroy, all critical infrastructure and utility workers may not even go to work for fear of harm to their families from civil chaos as happened to some degree with Hurricane Katrina. [114] The EMP Commissioner concluded that such a catastrophe could, in the worst-case scenario, lead to 90 percent of the US population perishing from disease, starvation and social breakdown. [115] As Pry has said:

Everything is in blackout and nothing works. The EMP sparks widespread fires, explosions, all kinds of industrial accidents. Firestorms rage in cities and forests. Toxic clouds pollute the air and chemical spills poison already polluted lakes and rivers. In seven days, the over 100 nuclear power reactors run out of emergency power and go Fukushima, spreading radioactive plumes over the most populous half of the United States. There is not even any drinking water and the national food supply in regional warehouses begins to spoil in three days. There was only enough food to feed 320 million people for 30 days anyway. [116]


Thus, on the usual business as usual scenario of ignorance/apathy, collapse coming from the skies may be not a question of “if” but “when.”

There is also the grim reality of the same apocalyptic situation being produced by the strategic use of nuclear weapons detonated in the atmosphere. While there was some fanfare early in 2018 about then President Trump hosing down the North Korean nuclear threat, at present North Korea has continued to develop their nukes, and could use them in EMP strikes against enemy electronic infrastructure, North Korea now having the capacity to hit targets in the US. [117] Iran has indicated that EMP attacks against the US are also on the future menu. [118]

According to globalist George Soros, whom Elon Musk recently has compared to Marvel Comics villain, Magneto, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, May 2022, the Ukraine invasion “may have been the beginning of the third world war and our civilization may not survive it.” [119] Soros is not the only leading financier to be concern about mass death arising from a possible third world war; financial cycle expert Charles Nenner sees a war cycle beginning in 2023, like World War I, but bigger, with one third of the world’s population, more than 2.5 billion people perishing, and Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector sees the human race exterminating itself very soon through nuclear war, as the Ukraine war spirals into an open nuclear confrontation. [120] If this is so, the environmental crisis becomes a mere storm in the proverbial teacup.

In contrast to these “pessimists” Van Buskirk [121] quotes U.S. government estimates of an estimated death toll of 13-34 million people for a nuclear exchange of 3,000 warheads, and a die off of 10-20 percent of the world population from the effects of this, such as infrastructure destruction, disease, famine and nuclear winter. However, these figures are open to challenge, vast under-estimates, especially the death toll from global famine from nuclear winter. [122]

For example, a study by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility [123] modelled a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan and found that this alone would kill up to two billion people by nuclear winter crushing world food production.

Xia et al.  [124], using climate, crop and fishing models, estimated the stratospheric soot injections from nuclear war. It was concluded that soot injections larger than 5 Tg would result in massive food shortages, a “global catastrophe for food security,” leading to the death of billions. Nuclear war between India and Pakistan would kill over 2 billion people, while nuclear war between the US and Russia would kill over 5 billion people.

These conclusions are supported by more recent computer simulations, which indicate that even a limited nuclear war between two powers, such as NATO and Russia, or India and Pakistan, could lead to a “Nuclear Ice Age” lasting thousands of years. Crop failure, the crash of biodiversity, including marine algae, the basis of the marine food chain, will result in global famine and a vast die off of humans. The exact figure is difficult to calculate since the “Nuclear Ice Age” would collapse techno-industrial society which is ill-prepared for such a mega-disaster. [125]

Global nuclear war is likely to involve the use of the explosion of high attitude nuclear bombs to produce a powerful electromagnetic pulse that would collapse the grid and fry most unprotected electronics. [126] Dr. Peter Pry (1954-2022), was Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, and was a leading expert on EMP attacks. He noted that Chinese military doctrine has the notion of “Total Information Warfare,” blackout warfare, [127] with EMP attacks taking central stage, [128] and that China has Super-EMP weapons that can be readily used in hypersonic missiles. [129] In a more recent report, Iran: EMP Threat  [130] Dr Pry details how the Islamic Republic of Iran also posed an immediate EMP threat. Official Iran military textbooks detail using EMP attacks against the United States. Iran has hundreds of medium-range missiles that could in principle be armed with a nuclear warhead (perhaps given by North Korea, assuming it already does not have nuclear bombs). But Pry points out, disabling only 9 of the 2,000 US EHV transformer substations would result in a cascading failure and collapse of the US power grid. This could also be done without nuclear bombs, using high-power microwave devices in trucks to attack transforms and substations. Pry calculates that 30 such trucks could attack 880 substations in 24 hours, collapsing the grid. [131]


As has already been discussed, past human civilisations have collapsed, for ecological, [132] political, and military reasons [133], with a Western example being the decline and fall of Ancient Rome. [134] Civilizational collapse may be inevitable, a product of social entropy or because of increased complexity [135], with Western society far from immune to collapse from these factors alone. [136] Pandemic disease may also have a weakening effect, and is likely to be a great danger in a globalized world where disease no longer stops at national borders, especially when bioweapons are tossed out the back door of leaky bioweapons labs. [137] As we will now discuss, climate change is said to be a major existential threat to modern civilization, which will interact in a compounding way with most of the other existential threats, such as biodiversity destruction. [138]

Climatic Catastrophe

            In this section we will briefly set out the case that climate change is likely to be much worse than the so-called “consensus position,” usually summarized from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. [139] Before doing so, it is important to state that there is in a sense no “97 percent consensus” on the nature of climate change, since positions taken by various scientists, not necessary in specific climate change-based departments (i.e. atmospheric physicists, chemists etc.) do vary, ranging from no change at all, conveniently held by the free market defenders of global capitalism, to the IPCC position, to the position outlined here, which sees climate change as greater than the IPCC predicts, and catastrophic. [140]  However, the IPCC itself appears to be moving more towards the climate catastrophe position. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that humanity has only until 2030, to limit, but not completely prevent, a climate change catastrophe. This claim is made in its special report Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, An IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5 ºC above Pre-industrial Levels and Related Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathways, in the Context of Strengthening the Global Response to the Threat of Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Efforts to Eradicate Poverty. [141]

However, recently, upon release of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General said: “We are on a catastrophic path. We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future.” [142] According to the Sixth Assessment Report, the average global surface temperature was 1.09 C higher in 2011-2020 than in 1850-1900, with larger increases over land than oceans, of 0.88 C. [143] If the world warms by 0.4 C more, 14 percent of the world will face severe heatwaves. The scale of climatic changes as a “whole” are “unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.” [144] At 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher (high confidence) than at any time in the past two million years. The concentration of methane and nitrous oxide are higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years (very high confidence). The global surface temperature since 1970 has increased faster than at any other 50-year period in the last 2,000 years. The temperatures during 2011-2020 exceed those of the most recent past warm period of 6,500 years ago. [145] The result of this is that “[h]uman-inducted climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.” [146] This includes extremes such as heatwaves, droughts, tropical cyclones, heavy precipitation and super-storms, and extreme fire weather.

According to the IPCC: “Global surface temperatures will continue to increase until at least mid-century under all emission scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5° C and 2° C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” [147] UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that a 45 percent cut in emissions by 2030 will be needed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, otherwise … a climate catastrophe. [148] But it is simply not going to happen in seven years, and certainly not by the present proposals such as cancelling agriculture, unless the goal is global famine.

The IPCC reports are conservative, according to Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, “because [they] did not mention the likely rise in climate-driven refugees or the danger of tipping points that could push the world on to an irreversible path of extreme warming.” [149] For example, the Institute for Economics and Peace, estimates that more than one billion people will be displaced by climate change by 2050, which will shake the foundations of the developed world. [150]

Earlier, the same position was advanced by Sir Nicholas Stern who believes that current climate and economic models “tend to underestimate seriously … the potential impacts of dangerous climate change,” [151] and “catastrophic changes and tipping points … such as the thawing of permafrost, release of methane, and other potential tipping points. Furthermore, many of the largest potential impacts are omitted, such as widespread conflict as a result of large-scale human migration to escape the worst-affected areas.” [152] Although Stern wrote this in 2016, his predictions are correct. Thus, Antarctica is 40 C warmer than average, and areas over the Arctic, 30 C warmer than average. [153] Crucial parts of the Antarctic ice shelf may fail within five years. [154] Therefore, the world is heading to a 2 C rise and beyond, but the IPCC believes that opinion will change once disasters are more evident and the people panic, which is surely wishful thinking.

In this context it is interesting to observe that Figueres (et al.), hold  that there is only until 2020 to “safe guard our climate,” because “[a]ccording to an April report (prepared by Carbon Tracker in London, the Climate Action Tracker Consortium, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut), should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable. The UN Sustainable Development Goals that were agreed in 2015 would also be at grave risk.” [155] Clearly these goals, whatever merit/lack of merit they have, are unachievable in their own terms, as we have now passed the 2020 deadline, writing in 2023.

The leading criticisms of the IPCC come from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, [156] which has given a response to the IPCC, as its name suggests. Human activity, i.e., capitalism, markets, free trade and globalism, we assume, does not influence the climate, which is allegedly not a system humans can do much to control. [157] These critics rightly show that there is no “consensus,” meaning general, uncontroversial agreement without core disagreements across the relevant sciences. Their material mainly presents data and arguments to support the view that climate change is not caused by humans at all, and if any changes occur, it is solely due to natural variability. Classic arguments are advanced such as that over time, increases in atmospheric CO2 followed increases in temperature and never preceded them, so CO2 levels could not have forced temperatures to rise. Here we cannot refute everything they have produced argument by argument, but let us consider the carbon dioxide lag issue one as a key representative argument.

The CO2 lag argument is a misleading. It is true that changes in CO2 follow changes in temperature by about 600 to 1,000 years. However, initial temperature increases are due to the Earth’s Milankovitch cycles [158], orbital changes, which result in warming of the oceans. This warming then causes the oceans to release CO2, a positive feedback that amplifies the warming. A study by Shakun (et al.) constructed 80 proxy records based on Antarctic ice-core deuterium records, and found that temperature lagged CO2 during the last deglaciation: “Differences between the respective temperature changes of the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere parallel variations in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation recorded in marine sediments. These observations, together with transient global climate model simulations, support the conclusion that an antiphase hemispheric temperature response to ocean circulation changes superimposed on globally in-phase warming driven by increasing CO2 concentrations is an explanation for much of the temperature change at the end of the most recent ice age.” [159] In short, CO2 was the primary driver of climate change. [160]

It is also true that atmospheric CO2 levels have been higher in the distant past, with a significantly colder climate, such as during the Ordovician-Silurian extinction (450-440 million years ago) and the Jurassic-Cretaceous extinction (145-66 million years ago), where in both cases substantial cooling occurred. However, CO2 levels are only one major factor affecting climate, and a decrease in solar activity, and according to some, as in the case of the late Ordovician, a possible gamma-ray burst from a hyper-nova, may have completely destroyed the Earth’s ozone layer.  [161]

Obviously, we cannot devote thousands of pages in critique, but we will consider material which both the critics and the IPCC generally do not consider, attempting an indirect refutation.

First, what is the “standard” view, which is not to say that it represents some “consensus of truth,” but is simply the most influential position? One assessment of the climate change threat was given in the Executive Summary of the US Climate Science Special Report, now dated, which accepts the genuine threat of dangerous climate change occurring on the business-as-usual scenario of rapid economic growth and intense fossil fuel use:


The climate of the United States is strongly connected to the changing global climate. The statements below highlight past, current, and projected climate changes for the United States and the globe.

Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales.

This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.

In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities. Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.

For example, global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with almost half (about 3 inches) of that rise occurring since 1993. Human-caused climate change has made a substantial contribution to this rise since 1900, contributing to a rate of rise that is greater than during any preceding century in at least 2,800 years. Global sea level rise has already affected the United States; the incidence of daily tidal flooding is accelerating in more than 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities.

Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1-4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out. Sea level rise will be higher than the global average on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States.

Changes in the characteristics of extreme events are particularly important for human safety, infrastructure, agriculture, water quality and quantity, and natural ecosystems. Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the United States and globally and is expected to continue to increase. The largest observed changes in the United States have occurred in the Northeast.

Heatwaves have become more frequent in the United States since the 1960s, while extreme cold temperatures and cold waves are less frequent. Recent record-setting hot years are projected to become common in the near future for the United States, as annual average temperatures continue to rise. Annual average temperature over the contiguous United States has increased by 1.8°F (1.0°C) for the period 1901-2016; over the next few decades (2021-2050), annual average temperatures are expected to rise by about 2.5°F for the United States, relative to the recent past (average from 1976-2005), under all plausible future climate scenarios.

The incidence of large forest fires in the western United States and Alaska has increased since the early 1980s and is projected to further increase in those regions as the climate changes, with profound changes to regional ecosystems.

Annual trends toward earlier spring melt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the western United States and these trends are expected to continue. Under higher scenarios, and assuming no change to current water resources management, chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible before the end of this century.

The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) emitted globally. Without major reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature relative to preindustrial times could reach 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century. With significant reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature could be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) or less.

The global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has now passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level that last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today. Continued growth in CO2 emissions over this century and beyond would lead to an atmospheric concentration not experienced in tens to hundreds of millions of years. There is broad consensus that the further and the faster the Earth system is pushed towards warming, the greater the risk of unanticipated changes and impacts, some of which are potentially large and irreversible.

The observed increase in carbon emissions over the past 15-20 years has been consistent with higher emissions pathways. In 2014 and 2015, emission growth rates slowed as economic growth became less carbon-intensive. Even if this slowing trend continues, however, it is not yet at a rate that would limit global average temperature change to well below 3.6°F (2°C) above preindustrial levels. [162]


This dated analysis, was based on contributions from climate experts from reputable scientific agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That does not make it right, but it does not make it wrong either, and puts the burden of refutation upon critics, and that includes the present work which is arguing for a coming climate catastrophe. The take-home conclusion here is that it is unlikely that humanity can limit global average temperature change to below the point of dangerous climate change, 2 C on the business as usual scenario. [163] That business-as-usual scenario of exponential growth and continuous high fossil fuel use, is the one which countries like China, India, Brazil, the US and most Western countries want with no negotiation, so as we will see, a 2 C rise, and beyond, looks highly probable.

Greenhouse gases are at record levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The last time the Earth had comparable concentrations of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago.  Then the global average temperature was 2-3 C warmer, and sea levels were 10-20 meters higher than the present day. [164] In 2017, levels of CO2 reached a global average of 405.5 parts per million, which is 50 percent higher than in the pre-industrial era, methane levels were 2.5 times higher and nitrous oxide 20 percent higher than before the industrial revolution. [165] Carbon dioxide levels  reached 411 parts per million in May 2018 according to the US National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). [166] According to NOAA, at the present rate of growth in CO2 emissions, the world is on track to reach 500 ppm within 50 years or less, with an average global temperature rise of 3 C or more, producing effects such as the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, with all of the resultant biological positive feedback mechanisms. [167]

As stated earlier, climate change is likely to be far worse in its impacts than conservative projections because of the operation of various positive feedback mechanisms. [168] Present day climatic effects are already giving us an indication of the dangers ahead. In South East Asia, the temperature has risen by 0.14 to 0.20 C per decade, the frequency of heat waves has increased [169], and with a 1.5 C increase, approximately 13.8 percent of the world will face severe heatwaves at least once every 5 years, and with 2 C warming the frequency of heatwaves will be almost three times larger (36.9 percent). [170]

Oceans have warmed, in the period between 1991 and 2010, on average in excess of five times faster than in the 1971 to 1990 period, and according to Cheng (et al., 2019): “This warming has contributed to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets; glaciers; and ice caps in the polar regions.” [171] The future rising sea levels threaten to swamp low-lying coastal regions and cities such as Miami, promising to be the revenge of B-grade movie, Waterworld (1995), as studies indicate that between 1971 and 2020, around 90 percent of the heat that has been added to the Earth, has been to the oceans, approximately 381 zettajoules (381 sextillion joules) of heat. At present in 2023, the world’s ocean surface temperature is at a record high of 21.1 C, higher than the previous 2006 record of 21 C, posing the threat of “marine heat waves,” with dire effects upon marine ecosystems, including fish populations, which millions depend upon for protein.  [172]

Seventeen of the 18 warmest years since temperature records have been kept have occurred since 2001, and since 1880, there has been an increase in the global temperature by 0.9 C. The Arctic has warmed somewhat quicker, with 2016 land temperatures being 2 C above the 1981-2010 average temperature, and a 3.5 C increase since records began. [173] According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and NASA [174], 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, with recent years 2015, 2016 and 2017, being hotter. NASA stated that 2022 was the fifth warmest year on record, and the previous nine years were the warmest since such temperature records commenced, in 1880. [175]


Michael Mann believes that the IPCC was “overly conservative in its assessment of the science,” making a reduction in the lower end of the equilibrium climate sensitivity only because of the alleged temperature hiatus, thus giving an upper limit on the projected global sea level rise of one meter by 2100. However, he pointed out, other peer-reviewed scientific research predicted a rise of up to two meters, and some predictions are even worse. [176]

Kevin Anderson believes that there is now “little or no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2 C.” [177] Therefore,  catastrophic climate change is likely to occur, with a 2 C world ultimately cascading into  a 4 C world, leading to food, water and resource wars, so civilization would be unlikely to survive. [178] Anderson agrees with Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist, who states the International Energy Agency’s view that the trend of CO2 increase is for a 6 C rise, that will be even more devastating. [179]

Sir Nicholas Stern, of the Stern Review fame, [180] has noted that there are many positive feedback mechanisms intensifying climate change, such as the large-scale melting of permafrost, and the release of methane [181], biological and biosphere feedbacks [182], changes to patterns of albedo or reflectivity  [183], causal feedbacks from temperature increases themselves [184], and other compounding, nonlinear phenomena. [185]

For example, as an example of a “surprise scenario,” the worst-case IPCC scenario, the RCP 8.5 scenario of rapid economic growth and rising use of fossil fuels, has been found to be not the worst-case scenario, but there was a 35 percent probability that CO2e concentrations in the year 2100 will exceed conventional RCP 8.5 predictions. This increases the chances of more “extreme climate change outcomes.” [186] Existing CO2 in the atmosphere alone may have sufficient heating “momentum” to push the world beyond the 2 C “dangerous climate change” threshold. [187]

Paul Valdes has argued that state-of-the-art climate models, as used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not tested to deal with occurrences of abrupt climate change, and the models have been built for stability. The models do not adequately simulate: (1) the warm climate before abrupt changes during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal maximum; (2) the desertification of northern Africa between 9,000 and 5,500 years ago; (3) the collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation between 120,000 and 12,000 years ago, and (4) 25 incidents of rapid warming events in Greenland (Dansgaard-Oeschger events). Valdes concludes: “Overall, the modelling of past abrupt events does not give us confidence in the ability of complex models to simulate critical threshold behaviour that we know has occurred in the past.” [188] Abrupt changes can occur rapidly once tipping points are reached, and critical thresholds are exceeded. [189]

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), each year since 2008, an average of 25.3 million people have been displaced because of disasters, particularly climate disasters such as floods, tornados and superstorms. [190] Estimates in the literature range from an optimistic 25 million through to a devastating, and arguably more likely, one billion people displaced by climate change by 2050, who may be seeking refuge in the West. [191] Needless to say, even with just economic issues such as unemployment from computerization [192], placement of such large numbers of people will likely to be impossible in the West, producing enormous social conflict, dwarfing the present migration crisis of Europe.  The population explosion in Africa will bring it all to breaking point, for Africa’s present population expansion has been described by the African Development Bank Group, as a “ticking time bomb:” with four billion, or 36 percent of the world’s population living in Africa by 2100. [193] Mass movements of Africans to the West has been predicted by numerous authorities, and the West is not prepared for this. [194] The race riots in France of June-July 2023, may look trivial compared to what may be coming.

One of the most concerning positive climatic feedback mechanisms is the “methane bomb,” the increasing release of a gas which has the global warming potential over 20 years, 86 times more than CO2. [195] Methane levels are increasing, such that the atmosphere now contains two-and-a-half times more methane than it did before the industrial revolution began, and in 2017, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observed a significant methane rise, with there being a long-term trend of a linear rise. [196]

  1. Knoblauch (et al.) have noted that as Arctic permafrost thaws, in the waterlogged wetland soils, microorganisms will produce a substantial volume of methane, more than previously thought. This research teams’ study involved a seven-year long experiment examining soils subject to the same conditions, where it was observed that methane-producing microorganisms increased in number, greater than predicted. [197]

Farquharson (et al.) [198], have observed that Arctic permafrost is rapidly responding to climate change, and warming is likely to have widespread effects. Even very cold permafrost, with an average ground temperature of -10 C is rapidly responding to climate change, with at three permafrost monitoring stations in the Canadian Arctic, exhibiting a deepening of the active layer, melting of the near-surface ground ice and subsiding of the overlying ground surface. Thus, even in these cold regions, with warmer than average summer air temperatures, small thaw ponds have formed, all with the potential to release methane.

Apart from the release of methane, the Arctic permafrost contains twice as much mercury as in the soils, atmosphere and ocean combined, being about 121,133,177 litres of mercury, enough to fill 50 Olympic swimming pools. Mercury occurs naturally and is taken up by plants. The mercury has accumulated from plants which have not fully decomposed since the last Ice Age, which has locked mercury into the permafrost. With the melting of the permafrost, this toxic element would be released into the ocean and/or the atmosphere. [199]

Andrew Glikson, in a paper entitled, “The Methane Time Bomb,” states:

During much of the upper Cenozoic, the accumulation of organic matter in Polar Regions, as well as in bogs in tropical and subtropical zones, has created large reservoirs of methane, the most potent common greenhouse gas, vulnerable to release upon a rise in temperature. Global warming, driving a mean rise of 3 to 8 °C in the Arctic early during 2015- 2018, is leading toward the release of billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere, from permafrost, lakes, shallow seas and sediments. This release threatens to melt large parts of the polar ice caps, leading to meters, to tens of meters of sea level rise. Global warming is a major factor leading to the disappearance of species throughout the planet at a rate two orders of magnitude faster than they would have without human interference. Compounding this effect is extensive drilling for coal seam gas, perforating the crust in several parts of the world and releasing commercial and fugitive emissions of methane into the atmosphere. The triggering of methane release induced by anthropogenic transfer of carbon to the atmosphere is leading to a major shift in state of the terrestrial atmosphere and habitats.  [200]

By 2100, the permafrost could decrease by between 30 to 99 percent, spewing out climate-changing methane, a chemical which is the cause of the Earth’s greatest mass extinctions, and which may be in the process of initiating another die off of life on Earth. [201] The permafrost tipping point may be below 2 C, based on a “compost bomb” model, where an increase in soil temperatures occurs due to heat produced through decomposition by bacteria, so that the greater the global warming, the quicker the tipping point for the permafrost is met. [202]

The impacts upon human life, health and civilization, will be immense, creating a “hot house Earth,” swept by extreme weather events. An example of the effects of extreme climate change events, was seen with the massive “fire tornado” that ripped through Redding California on July 26, 2018, at 230 kilometers per hour, killing six people and wiping out hundreds of homes. “The fire whirls may occur when intense rising heat and turbulent wind conditions combine to form whirling eddies of air. These eddies can contract into a tornado-like vortex that sucks in burning debris and combustible gases. “This giant rotating cylinder on top of the fire, composed of smoke, pulls burning embers and smouldering debris thousands of feet into the atmosphere,” Daniel Swain, of the University of California at Los Angeles, has said: ““It allows fire to jump over barriers. … It causes it (the fire) to do crazy, very unpredictable things.” The “firenado” rose some 16,000 feet into the air, churning across the ground for a long as 80 minutes.” [203] Further:

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, said that if the fire whirl’s wind speeds are ultimately confirmed it “could end up being the strongest tornado feature in California history.” While powerful fire whirls have been documented before, Craig Clements, the director of San Jose State University’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory, said the vortex of fire that hit Redding may have been the strongest ever recorded. “This is historic in the US,” he said. “This might be the strongest fire-induced tornado-like circulation ever recorded.” Hannah Chandler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Sacramento office, said the conditions observed in the Carr fire were uncommon and exceeded even the expectations of experts who had been observing photos of the damage. “That’s significantly stronger than what we were expecting after the first reports came in,” Chandler said of the tornado-like wind speeds. [204]


Although weather extremes have a climate change fingerprint [205], it is not usually possible to say that some specific weather event was caused by climate change in the sense that if there was not the said climate change, the event would not have occurred at all. It still could have been chance. But, the intensity of these extreme weather events is completely consistent with the climate change hypothesis, and as more such events occur, the “mere chance” hypothesis becomes less probable. [206] This repetition of extreme weather events may produce “thermogeddon,” where parts of the Earth become uninhabitable under normal living conditions, so that someone naked in the shade, under a fan, would still die from heat stress, as wet bulb thermometer temperatures exceed the human limit of 35 C; this may happen within a century. [207] Increases in warming are already leading to a rise in emergency room cases of hyperthermia; it is predicted that in the US by 2050 an additional 21,000 to 28,000 people will require emergency treatment for hyperthermia, costing up to $ 52 million. [208] An article in the world’s leading medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine, predicts over 250,000 deaths each year from climate change, and that is not considering the runaway effects discussed here. [209] In 2022, the world had a taste of this, with a heatwave in Iraq in August having temperatures exceeding 51 C [210], and heatwaves across Europe, with airport runways in the UK melting or buckling in the heat. [211]

The scenario of the creation of a “hot house earth,” where parts of the planet become uninhabitable for humans, has been proposed by Steffen (et al.). [212] Killer heatwaves are predicted to occur within 50 years in China’s Great Northern Plain, which contains Beijing, with the extreme heat killing humans even in the shade within six hours by cytotoxicity, the wet-bulb temperature exceeding the threshold. [2013] The Earth is already over half way to this disaster point, with temperature rises of 0.17 C per decade. Once 2 C is reached, positive feedback biogeophysical forces will continue warming even if all human emissions ceased, tipping the world ultimately to 5 C above pre-industrial levels, a temperature that has not occurred for 1.2 million years. Sea levels could rise 10 to 60 meters higher than present levels, and parts of the planet would become uninhabitable for humans.

  1. Wallace-Wells gives an outline, based on the climatic literature of the sorts of effects that can be expected when the 2 C threshold is reached, and as 4 C is approached:

At two degrees, the melting of ice sheets will pass a tipping point of collapse, flooding dozens of the world’s major cities this century. At that amount of warming, it is estimated, global GDP, per capita, will be cut by 13 percent. Four hundred million more people will suffer from water scarcity, and even in the northern latitudes heat waves will kill thousands each summer. It will be worse in the planet’s equatorial band. At three degrees, southern Europe will be in permanent drought. The average drought in Central America would last 19 months and in the Caribbean 21 months. In northern Africa, the figure is 60 months — five years. The areas burned each year by wildfires would double in the Mediterranean and sextuple in the United States. Beyond the sea-level rise, which will already be swallowing cities from Miami Beach to Jakarta, damages just from river flooding will grow 30-fold in Bangladesh, 20-fold in India, and as much as 60-fold in the U.K. This is three degrees — better than we’d do if all the nations of the world honored their Paris commitments, which none of them are. Practically speaking, barring those dramatic tech deus ex machinas, this seems to me about as positive a realistic outcome as it is rational to expect.

At four degrees, there would be eight million cases of dengue fever each year in Latin America alone. Global grain yields could fall by as much as 50 percent, producing annual or close-to-annual food crises. The global economy would be more than 30 percent smaller than it would be without climate change, and we would see at least half again as much conflict and warfare as we do today. Possibly more. [214]


The world, in the early stages of this collapse, will become “uninsurable” [215], and the insurance industry is not paid for making mistakes.

At a minimum, climate change will break the global food system, leading to mega-famines, and a mass die off of the human population, as was predicted in the 1960s, but where the Green Revolution put off the evil day, finally giving Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) his grim revenge. [216] Indeed, there is speculation in astrophysics, that the reason why in a possibly infinite, or at least mind-numbingly immense universe, we have not encountered any signs of intelligent extra-terrestrial life (the Fermi paradox) [217], is that their civilizations may have collapsed from unsustainable resource use, and climate change. [218] Or, they may have simply destroyed themselves from warfare, or, all of the above, just as the human race is set to do.

The Way of Decay: A New Dark Age

            It has been argued in the discussion above that the scientific evidence indicates that the climate is already striking many key tipping points. While the conservative IPCC holds that to keep the rise in global average temperature to below 1.5 C in this century, there would need to be emissions cut of at least 45 percent by 2030. However, at the time it was said that there was “12 years to save the planet,” with the key year being 2020, which is past. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute, has been quoted as saying: “the climate math is brutally clear: while the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020.”  [219] Even that, it has been argued here is wildly optimistic, with the global average temperature heading towards 3-4 C by 2100, not 1.5 C. Indeed, in October 2018, the IPCC said that emissions would need to start falling by 2019 at the latest for there to be a realistic chance of keeping the rise in average global temperature to 1.5 C, which has not occurred; emissions continue to rise in 2022. [220] Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency said in June 2020 that the world had only six months to prevent a carbon rebound, leading to a climate catastrophe, and that date has long past as well. [221]

A number of works have raised doubts about the common environmentalist mantra that renewable energy will advert the climate catastrophe, even given the continuation of the present growth-based economy.  [222] However, there will be an uphill battle to create a renewable energy economy; as document by the Leftist The Guardian, the largest fossil fuel corporations across the world are planning massive oil and gas projects that have the potential to release 646 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, which will make all such conservation projects useless. Indeed, carbon dioxide emissions in 2022 were at record levels, with a 50 percent chance of the threshold of 1.5 C being exceeded in just nine years. [223] Further, China’s greenhouse gas emissions now exceed the U.S. and the developed countries combined, and if World War III occurs over Taiwan, a likely bet, there will be even less interest in reducing carbon emissions, as much of the world will be reduced to “carbon.” China built two new coal power plants per week in 2022, and has six times as many plants under construction as the total of the rest of the world, which makes the carbon conservation efforts of smaller countries such as Australia, somewhat pointless beyond moral gesturing. [224]

Further, as numerous articles have documented, there is an active campaign of misinformation produced by vested interests ranging from oil multinational companies through to Right wing conservative groups, to deny climate change by invoking various arguments that have had an impact upon the political will to make the utterly radical changes to modern society to deal not only with the climate change, but the other interrelated aspects of the environmental crisis. It matters little if these ideological representations have scientific validity, for there is a strong motive for people to resist changes that threaten their livelihood and standard of living, real, or perceived to be real, and rightly so. [225] This is especially so, when the globalist elites maintain their own high carbon life styles, while expecting us to eat bugs.

The yellow vests movement (Mouvement des gilets jaunes) in France was motivated by rising fuel prices with a call made for lower fuel taxes, the taxes in part being a carbon tax, a part of president Emmanuel Macron’s climate policy. As it was felt that a disproportional burden of these taxes was falling on working- and middle-class people, protests began that devolved into violent confrontations with the authorities. This shows the extreme difficulty of changing the present fossil-fuel dependent system, as harming ordinary voters will be inevitable. And, it is hardly reasonable to expect ordinary people to just “go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas), while the elites are “free to drink martinis and  watch the sun rise” (Bob Dylan).

The heavy-handed, totally counter-productive approach of the ruling elites to make a last-ditch bid to supposedly deal with climate change in a manner that will certainly righteously inflame populist resistance, is seen as well in the present policies of the Netherlands to reduce 30 percent of the countries live stock to curb nitrogen pollution, and to seize farmers’ lands, some such lands being in families for generations. This has led to strong protests by over 30,000 farmers, with police already firing live (warning) rounds in one incident that almost killed a 16-year-old protester. [226] The concern with controlling farms, rather than industries such as aviation, cosmetics, and numerous other industries and activities, especially the war-prone military industrial complex and global free trade, could be the spark that sets off a violent revolt against attempts to deal with climate change. As noted by Ralph Schoellhammer, assistant professor in economics and political science at Webster university, Vienna, across the globe there is a populist revolt of working-class people against what they see as the “luxury beliefs” of the ruling elites, and unfortunately climate change policies that render already vulnerable people, poorer, while the ruling class do not compensate, may be violently rejected. In this context it is worth noting that according to a poll by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, publicized in July 2022, a majority of those polled said that the US government is corrupt and 28 percent of all voters, and 37 percent of gun owners felt that “it may be necessary at some point soon for citizens to take up arms against the government.” This position of armed rebellion was held by 35 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 1 in 5 Democrats. [227] If such violence breaks out, climate change will no longer be an issue, obviously enough, any more than in 2023, it was discussed much in the Ukraine.

The question to be considered then, is how likely is an era of violence? Very likely, according to Peter Turchin in Ages of Discord. [228] He predicts a collapse of civilization this decade due to political turmoil, part of a cycle of violence, fuelled by inflation, unemployment, falling real wages, a food crisis, if not global famine, and mass rioting. [229] With military over-reach there results “state bankruptcy and consequent loss of military control; elite movements of regional and national rebellion; and a combination or elite-mobilized and popular uprisings that expose the breakdown of central authority.” [230] And Adam Tooze, director of the European Institute at Columbia University describes the converging catastrophes facing the world at present as a “polycrisis of doom” [231], where each crisis, such as the global fuel and food shortage, compounds and worsens other crises, such as the political crisis of legitimacy, mentioned earlier. Neither Turchin, nor Tooze devote attention to the environmental crisis, which must also be added to this framework of planetary overload. [232] Already civil unrest is rising in 50 percent of countries, according to Verisk Maplecroft, Civil Unrest Index. [233] It is difficult to see how humanity can survive this perfect storm of impending doom, and arguably academic disciplines are somewhat impotent before the threats.

There is a considerable body of academic psychological literature dealing with strategies for individual change in behaviour with respect to climate change, and a large body of material documenting the psychological effects of climate change, including ecoanxiety, stress about climate change itself.  [234] In the co-written book, Climate Change as a Crisis in World Civilization [235], one of us  (JWS) discussed the merits and the limitations of the psychological approach to climate change. In general, the literature vastly over-emphasises the psychological dimensions of the climate crisis and assumes that psychological theories will aid individuals to change their consumptive behaviour to reduce their carbon footprint. In general, the field operates with a metaphysics of methodological individualism [236], whereas climate change is a super-wicked problem [237], that encompasses, as we have seen in this article, many dimensions of the environmental crisis, including economics, politics and indeed the entire mode of existence of modern techno-industrial civilization and geo-politics.

Many theorists believe that a collapse of civilization can only be achieved by de-growth, not merely creating a steady state economy (which at present through put levels has already engaged in ecological overshoot), but massively reducing consumption, moving away from hydrocarbon dependence, [238] and ending economic growth as it now exists. [239] But, it will be at the price of severe social stress to many people, especially the armed, who will ultimately revolt in anger, as their lives are ruined. But, the Catch 22 is that civilization will collapse anyway.

The changes needed to produce a sustainable economy, if that is possible at all now, are staggering, and have not been realistically considered in the psychological literature.  [240] For example, according to the UK government’s chief environmental scientist Professor Sir Ian Boyd, for the UK is to reach its zero net greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, people will need to use public transport frequently, eat less red meat buy fewer clothes, and probably fewer everything.   He said: “The way we live our lives is generally not good for the environment. We like to consume things, but the more we consume the more we absorb the resources of the planet. That means we have to grow those resources or we have to mine them – and in doing that we generate waste. And consumption is going up all the time. (There’s) a conundrum – how do we shift ourselves from consuming? We need to do more about learning to live sustainably. We talk about sustainability but we don’t really know what it means. We need to make major technological advances in the way we use and reuse materials but we (also) need to reduce demand overall – and that means we need to change our behaviours and change our lifestyles.” [241]

There is unlikely to be time to do this [242] as argued in this article, and the seriousness and lack of preparation for nations to deal with climate change, has been advanced by the Global Commission on Adaptation, convened by 18 nations, including the UK. [243] The Report recognises that the effects of climate change are upon us now, and will intensify:

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, with far-reaching and devastating impacts on people, the environment, and the economy. Climate impacts affect all regions of the world and cut across all sectors of society. People who did the least to cause the problem—especially those living in poverty and fragile areas—are most at risk. Consider:

  • Without adaptation, climate change may depress growth in global agriculture yields up to 30 percent by 2050. The 500 million small farms around the world will be most affected.
  • The number of people who may lack sufficient water, at least one month per year, will soar from 3.6 billion today to more than 5 billion by 2050.
  • Rising seas and greater storm surges could force hundreds of millions of people in coastal cities from their homes, with a total cost to coastal urban areas of more than $1 trillion each year by 2050.
  • Climate change could push more than 100 million people within developing countries below the poverty line by 2030. The costs of climate change on people and the economy are clear. The toll on human life is irrefutable. The question is how will the world respond: Will we delay and pay more or plan ahead and prosper? [244]

The problem though, is that adaptation programs will be at a minimum a trillion-dollar investment, and likely to be highly unpopular in the West, creating a situation of “climate apartheidism,” with the undermining of the human rights paradigm itself [245], as the West moves towards a life boat survivalist mentality to deal with the emerging ecological chaos. [246] One of us has  argued in many works that there is no satisfactory solution to the wicked problem of the ecological crisis [247], and while a degrowth strategy would be a movement in the right direction if it could be achieved without the total burden being upon the lower classes [248], reversing the present growth economy, it is most unlikely to voluntarily happen and will probably be resisted by force of arms, so only Darwinian ecological scarcity would achieve this. [249] This is likely to lead to a collapse of techno-industrial civilization, a massive die off of humans and a new Dark Age. [250]

                        The 2016 highly readable book by John Michael Greer, Dark Age America  [251] written from a philosophical position very different from the present work, nevertheless reaches the same conclusion that humanity, those who survive the “hard road ahead,” will face a new Dark Age, and all that that entails. Dark Ages are so called for being “dark,” where science and technology are at a minimum. Greer believes that we will see existing science and technology collapse due to the combined forces of resource depletion and the undermining of social capital and faith that is necessary to sustain social institutions. We are beginning to see what this is like with the growing distrust of orthodox medicine, not without some sound reasons.

            Once the crippled beasts of science and technology get bogged in the mud in the swampy creek bed of ecological collapse, it will be impossible for any sort of bootstrapping process to kick start civilization to occur for centuries, if at all, especially if life is poisoned by the radiation from nuclear reactor meltdowns. [252]

Lewis Dartnell in The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch [253], shows how, if the basics of the scientific method are still retained, it may be possible for survivors of a global catastrophic event to rebuild civilization. That is all interesting, but the core assumption is, as he admits, that if there is no “grace” period, and large numbers of people continue to consume resources, then there can be no reboot of civilization, as the needed safety margin for rebuilding is lost. This is exactly the scenario contemplated in this essay. Then, Dartnell says, “society promptly descends into Mad Max-style barbarianism and subsequent mass depopulation, with little hope of rapidly bouncing back.” [254] Precisely; that is what we now face. Fred Hoyle described the consequences of this scenario in his 1964 book, Of Men and Galaxies:

It has often been said that if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ore gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of the other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only. [255]


Another vision of the post-apocalyptic reality, from an academic, was made by David Price who saw the collapse of civilization coming from peak energy:

[E]ven if a few people manage to survive worldwide population collapse, civilization will not. The complex association of cultural traits of which modern humans are so proud is a consequence of abundant resources, and cannot out live their depletion. … Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with “renewable” resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiralling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handful of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods. [256]

This collapse scenario is the “very hard scenario,” Ragnarök or Kali Yuga scenario involving the collapse of the institutions of science, culture, technology, and industry, and descent of a New Dark Age.  Cities crumble, being inhabited by gangs who have quickly reverted to atavistic savagery, making regular raids into the countryside to prey on the last dregs of humanity, who struggle to scratch out an existence through subsistence farming and hunting, on contaminated soils, with vastly diminished game. Common to all of these theorists is the recognition that the bulk of humanity is not going to peacefully go into the dark night. Dartnell, for example says: “Lethal force may be applied swiftly to deter looters and raids from rival gangs, and as resources become depleted the competition will only get fiercer. … The outbreak of widespread crime and violence is probably an inevitable effect of any catastrophic event” [257], and a “hellish descent into a Lord of the Flies” world. [258] This scenario has been depicted in films such as The Road (2009), and is a much more plausible outcome of the coming chaos than many ecopsychological thinkers envisage. [259]

Thus, in this context of clear social collapse, and civilizational collapse, if this is global, there is most unlikely to be much of the “milk of human kindness” as depicted by Rebecca Solnit in A Paradise Built in Hell (Solnit, 2010). [260] It is more likely to be like the Hobbesian battle for survival as depicted by Selco Begovic in The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival, and now seen across the world, such as in the rule of violence of organized crime gangs in Mexico. [261] Begovic gives his personal experiences of a city under siege during the Balkan War in the 1990s. Violence became a way of life, with daylight activities dangerous because of snipers, who would blow one’s head off, often just for fun. People were tortured by invading gangs searching for resources and some burnt alive. No milk of kindness there.

This is a bitter conclusion to face, and it takes some time of reflection to come to grips with it, similar to facing personal death. With personal death one may get some consolation from thinking that the cultural products made during one’s lifetime may out live you, but that possibility will not be so, with many things such as books and articles, in electronic form disappearing into nothingness when the internet dies, and paper versions of one’s life works, almost certainly being used for fire by the rag bag of survivors in the post-apocalyptic wastelands, or  simply incinerated with one’s body in the coming nuclear holocaust. [262]

“… man would be erased, like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea.” [263]




[2] Quoted from, P. Brannen, The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, (OneWorld Publications, London, 2018), front piece.


[3] L. Kemp, “Are We on the Road to Civilisation Collapse?” February 19, 2019, at; N. Bostrom, “The Vulnerable World Hypothesis,”


[4] R. L. Hotz, “Climate Scientists Encounter Limits of Computer Models, Bedeviling Policy,” February 6,


[5]  A. Vaughan, “Can We Fix Climate Models to Better Predict Record-Shattering Weather?” New Scientist, July 26, 2021,


[6] P. Servigne and R. Stevens, How Everything Can Collapse: A Manual for Our Times, (Polity, Cambridge, 2020).


[7] E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, (Modern Library, New York, [1776], 2003).


[8] L. Kemp, “Are We on the Road to Civilisation Collapse?” At


[9] P. Heather, Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010).


[10] Kemp, as above.


[11] D. Price, “Energy and Human Evolution,” Population and Environment, vol. 16, no. 4, 1995, pp. 301-319, at p. 315.


[12] Kemp, as above; G. D. Middleton, Understanding Collapse, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2017).


[13] M. Widdowson, The Phoenix Principle and the Coming Dark Age: Social Catastrophes – Human Progress 3000 BC to AD 3000, (Amarna, Bedford, UK, 2001).


[14] Kemp, as above.


[15] A. Newitz, Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans will Survive a Mass Extinction, (Anchor Books, New York, 2014).


[16] Heather as above.


[17] J. Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, (Viking, New York, 2005).


[18] R. D. Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy, (Vintage Books, New York, 2002).


[19] O. Spengler, The Decline of the West, Volume One: Form and Actuality, (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1926).


[20] As above, p.22.


[21] A. J. Toynbee, A Study of History, (Oxford University Press, London, 1949).


[22] As above, p. 246.


[23] As above, p. 245.


[24] As above, p. 364.


[25] Diamond, Collapse, as above.


[26] N. Ferguson, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe, (Penguin Press, London, 2022).


[27] S. Dekker, Drift to Failure: From Hunting Broken Components to Understanding Complex Systems, (Ashgate, Surrey, 2011).


[28] J. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988).


[29] As above, pp. 119-120.


[30] D. MacKenzie, “Are We Doomed?” New Scientist, April 5, 2008, pp. 33-35.


[31] U. Bardi, S. Falsini and I. Perissi, “Towards a General Theory of Societal Collapse: A Biophysical Examination of Tainter’s Model of Diminishing Returns of Complexity,” Physics and Society, arXiv:1810.07056,


[32] R. Vacca, The Coming Dark Age, (Doubleday, New York, 1973), p.4; G. G. Brunk, “Why Do Societies Collapse? A Theory Based on Self-Organized Criticality,” Journal of Theoretical Politics, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 195-230.


[33] T. Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization, (Island press, Washington DC, 2008).


[34] W. Steffen and D. Griggs, “Compounding Crises: Climate Change in a Complex World,” In P. Christoff (ed.), Four Degrees of Warming: Australia in a Hot World, (Routledge, London and New York, 2014), pp. 121-138.


[35] J. H. Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, (Grove Press, New York, 2006); C. Dilworth, Too Smart for Our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Humankind, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009); D. A. Collins, “Heading for a World Apocalypse?” The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 242-254; D. R. Montgomery, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2012); H. Nyborg, “The Decay of Western Civilization: Double Relaxed Darwinian Selection,” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 118-125; W. Ophuls, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail, (CreateSpace, North Charleston, 2012); K. B. Taylor, “The Passing of Western Civilization,” Futures, vol. 122, 102582.


[36] D. Orlov, The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor’s Toolkit, (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2013); J. M. Greer, Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead, (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2016).


[37] U. Haque, “The Age of Extinction is Here – Some of Us Just Don’t Know It Yet,” Eudaimonia and Co., at https://eandco/the-age-of-extinction-is-here-some-of-us-just-dont-know-it-yet-7001f5e0c79a.


[38] G. McPherson, Going Dark, (Publish America, Baltimore, 2013).


[39] P. R. Ehrlich and A. Ehrlich, “Can a Collapse of Global Civilization be Avoided?” Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, vol. 280, 1754, 20122845, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2845; M. Harrison, “Stanford Scientists Warn that Civilization as We Know it Will End in the ‘Next Few Decades,’” January 4, 2023,…


[40] S. Motesharrei (et al.), “Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequity and the Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies,” Ecological Economics, vol. 101, 2014, pp. 90-102.


[41] G. Herrington, “Update to Limits of Growth: Comparing the World 3 Model with Empirical Data,” Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 614-626.


[42] D. H. Meadows (et al.), The Limits to Growth, (Universe Books, 1972).


[43] C. J. A. Bradshaw (et al.), “Understanding the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future,” Frontiers in Conservation Science, 1,;  G. Strona and C. J. A. Bradshaw, “Co-Extinctions Annihilate Planetary Life during Extreme Environmental Change,” Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 2018, Article Number 16724; N. King and A. Jones, “An Analysis of the Potential for the Formation of ‘Nodes of Persisting Complexity’” Sustainability, vol. 13, no. 15, 8161,; W. J. Ripple (et al.), “World Scientists’ Warning of Climate Emergency 2021,” BioScience, vol. 71, no. 9, pp. 894-898.











[49] As above.


[50] See


[51] D. Spratt and I. Dunlop, Existential Climate-Related Security Risk: A Scenario Approach, (May, 2019), National Centre for Climate Restoration at


[52] As above, p. 5.


[53] As above.


[54] As above; Y. Xu (et al.), “Global Warming will Happen Faster than We Think,” Nature, vol. 564, 2018, pp. 30-32.


[55] Spratt and Dunlop, as above.


[56] J. B. Calhoun, “Death Squared: The Explosive Growth of a Mouse Population,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 66, 1973, pp. 80-88.


[57] M.A. Woodley of Menie (et al.), “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, vol. 3, 2017, pp. 181-191, at p. 187;; M. Lynch,  Mutation and Human Exceptionalism: Our Future Genetic Load,” Genetics,  vol. 202, 2016, pp. 869-875.

[58] Woodley of Menie, as above; M. Lynch, “Mutation and Human Exceptionalism: Our Future Genetic Load,” Genetics, vol. 202, 2016, pp. 869-875.


[59] M. T. Klare, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, (Picador, New York, 2012).




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[62] D. Hughes, Drill, Baby, Drill: Can Unconventional Fuels Usher in a New Era of Energy Abundance?” February 19, 2013, at; D. Hughes, Shale Reality Check: Drilling into the US Government’s Rosy Projections for Shale Gas and Tight Oil Production through 2050, at; D. Hughes, 2016 Tight Oil Reality Check, December 12, 2016, at; D. Hughes, 2016 Shale Gas Reality Check, December 12, 2016, at




[64] J. M. Greer, Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse and the Hard Future Ahead, (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2016); M. Berman, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, (W. W. Norton, New York, 2006); M. Berman, Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline, (CreateSpace, 2014). Tim Morgan, Perfect Storm: Energy, Finance and the End of Growth (2013),, argues that the energy problem is much more complex than the simple versions of peak oil, and relates to Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI). There is a cost escalation of 4.8 percent at an EROEI of 20:1, to 16.7 percent at 5:1. For oil in the 1930s, the EROEI was in excess of 100:1, but declined to around 30:1 by the 1970s, and today is around 10:1. Hard-to-get oil such as tar sands is around 3:1, and shale gas and oil, 5:1. Morgan concludes: “the economy, as we have known it for more than two centuries, will cease to be viable at some point within the next ten years unless, of course, some way is found to reduce the trend”(p. 77). I Capellan-Perez (et al.), “Dynamic Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) and Material Requirements in Scenarios of Global Transition to Renewable Energies,” Energy Strategy Reviews, vol. 26, 2019, 100399, note that for energy returned on energy invested for renewable energy systems, “are well below the thresholds identified in the literature required to sustain industrial complex societies.”


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[66] G. Ceballos (et al.), “Biological Annihilation via the Ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction Signalled by Vertebrate Population Losses and Declines,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 25, 2017, vol. 114, no. 30, pp. E6089-E6096: (p. E6089) See further: E. Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, (Henry Holt, New York, 2014); D. W. O’Neill (et al.), “A Good Life for All Within Planetary Boundaries,” Nature Sustainability, vol. 1, 2018, pp. 88-95: “Overall, our findings suggest that the pursuit of universal human development which is the ambition of the [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals], has the potential to undermine the Earth-system processes upon which development ultimately depends.” (p. 93)


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[68] J. A. Bogoni (et al.), “Wish You Were Here: How Defaunated is the Atlantic Forest of its Medium-to-Large Bodied Mammal Fauna?” PLOS One, vol. 13 99), 2018: e 0204515.


[69] G. S. Cooper (et al.), “Regime Shifts Occur Disproportionately Faster in Larger Ecosystems.” Nature Communications, 11, 2020, Article number: 1175.


[70] A. Krogh, State of the Tropical Rainforests, Rainforest Foundation, Norway, https://d5i6i50eze552.


[71] D. M. Bergstrom (et al.), “Combating Ecosystem Collapse from the Tropics to the Antarctic,” Global Change Biology, February 25, 2021,


[72] Swiss Re, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Index (BES),


[73] A. J. Plumptre (et al.), “Where Might We Find Ecologically Intact Communities?” Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, April 15, 2021,;  S. Seibold (et al), “Arthropod Decline in Grasslands and Forests is Associated with Landscape-Level Drivers,” Nature, vol. 574, 2019, pp. 671-674; D. M. Bergstrom (et al.), “Combating Ecosystem Collapse from the Tropics to the Antarctic,” Global Change Biology, vol. 27 (9), 2021, pp. 1692-1703; I. Quintero and J. J. Wiens, “Rates of Climate Change Dramatically Exceed Past Rates of Climate Niche Evolution Among Vertebrate Species,” Ecology Letters, vol. 16 (8), 2013, pp. 1095-1103.


[74] R. Dirzo (et al,), “Defaunation in the Anthropocene,” Science, vol. 345, 2014, pp. 401-406, at p. 401; R. Gumbs (et al.), “Global Priorities for Conservation of Reptilian Phytogenic Diversity in the Face of Human Impacts,” Nature Communications, 11, 2020, Article number 2616; R. H. Cowie (et al.), “The Sixth Mass Extinction: Fact, Fiction or Speculation?” Biological Reviews, 2022; doi:10.1111/brv.12816. Co-extinctions are an important part of biodiversity decline, as organisms die out who are dependent upon other vulnerable species: G. Strona and C. J. A. Bradshaw, “Co-extinctions Annihilate Planetary Life During Extreme Environmental Change,” Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 22018, Article number: 16724.


[75] G. Ceballos (et al.), “Vertebrates on the Brink as Indicators of Biological Annihilation and the Sixth Mass Extinction,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, (24), 2019, pp. 13596-13602; Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Summary for Policymakers of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services, (United Nations, new York, 2019), p. 4.


[76] WWF, The World’s Forgotten Fishes, April 19, 2021,


[77] Anonymous, “Over 21% of Reptile Species at Risk of Extinction,” April 27, 2022,


[78] C. Hallman (et al.), “More than 75 percent Decline over 27 Years in Total Flying Insect Biomass in Protected Areas,” PLOS ONE 12(10): e0185809;;;;; P. Cardoso (et al.), “Scientists’ Warning to Humanity on Insect Extinctions,” Biological Conservation, vol. 242, 2020, 108426; F. Sanchez-Bayo and K. A. G. Wyckhuys, “Worldwide Decline of the Entomofauna: A Review of its Drivers,” Biological Conservation, vol. 232, 2019, pp. 8-27.


[79]; A. Barron, “Death of the Bee Hive: Understanding the Failure of an Insect Society,” Current Opinion in Insect Science, vol. 10, 2015, pp. 45-50.


[80] L. Jackson, East of England Bee Report: A Report on the Status of Threatened Bees in the Region with Recommendations for Conservation Action, (Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, Peterborough), (April, 2019) at


[81] As above, p. 6.


[82]; C. Outhwaite (et al.), “Agriculture and Climate Change are Reshaping Insect Biodiversity Worldwide,” Nature, vol. 605, 2022, pp. 97-102.

[83] F. Sànchez-Bayo and K. Wyckhuys, “Worldwide Decline of the Entomofauna: A Review of the Drivers,” Biological Conservation, vol. 232, 2019, pp. 8-27; J. R. Allan (et al.), “Hotspots of Human Impact on Threatened Terrestrial Vertebrates,” PLOS Biology, March 12, 2019, at


[85] J. Vidal, “The Rapid Decline of the Natural World is a Crisis Even Bigger than Climate Change,” March 15, 2019, at


[86] S. Diaz (et al.), “Summary for Policymakers of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services,”, p.5.


[87] S. Borenstein, “Humans May Cause Extinction of 1 Million Species, UN Report Says,” May 6, 2019, at


[88] M. Bologna and G. Aquino, “Deforestation and World Population Sustainability: A Quantitative Analysis,” Scientific Reports, 2020, 10:7631;


[89] G. Strona and C. J. A. Bradshaw, “Co-Extinctions Annihilate Planetary Life During Extreme Environmental Change,’ Scientific Reports, (2018), 8: 16724; doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35068-1; C. J. A. Bradshaw (et al.), “Underestimating the Challenge of Avoiding a Ghastly Future,” Frontiers in Conservation Science, January 13, 2021, doi.10.3389/FCOSC.2020.615419; Aarhus University, “Mammals Cannot Evolve Fast Enough to Escape Current Extinction Crisis,” October 15, 2018,






[92] S. Kelly, “World May Hit 2 Degrees of Warming in 10-15 Years Thanks to Fracking, Says Cornell Scientist,” April 11, 2018, at; A. Ingraffea, “Shale Gas: The Technological Gamble that Should Not have been Taken,” April 4, 2018, at On US methane emissions, see: S. Schwietzke (et al.), “Natural Gas Fugitive Emissions Rates Constrained by Global Atmospheric Methane and Ethane,” Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 48, 2014, pp. 7714-7722; D. Helmig (et al.), “Reversal of Global Atmospheric Ethane and Propane Trends Largely Due to US Oil and Natural Gas Production,” Nature Geoscience, vol. 9, 2016, pp. 490-495; A. J. Turner (et al.), “A Large Increase in U.S. Methane Emissions Over the Past Decade Inferred from Satellite Data and Surface Observations,” Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 43, 2016, pp. 2218-2224.




[94] P. Weston, “Catastrophic Warning about the Fate of Humanity is Given by 15,000 Scientists Who Claim Human Destruction of the Natural World will Lead to “Misery” and an “Irretrievably Mutilated” Planet,” November 14, 2017 at


[95] W. J. Ripple (et al.), “World Scientist’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” BioScience, 2017; bix125,




[97] See; On the White House’s Recognition of the EMP threat, see: “Enhancing National Preparedness to Space-Weather Events,” October 29, 2015, at;  National Science and Technology Council, National Space Weather Strategy, (Executive Office of the President of the United States, October, 2015), at; National Science and Technology Council, National Space Weather Action Plan, (Executive Office of the President of the United States, October, 2015), at; The Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: Critical National Infrastructures, (April, 2008), at


[98]; J. R. Dunn, “Dodging the Apocalypse,” March 23, 2023,; NASA, “A Powerful Solar Eruption on Far side of Sun Still Impacted Earth,”








[102] P. Riley, “On the Probability of Occurrence of Extreme Space Weather Events,” Space Weather, vol. 10, 2012; S02012; doi: 10.1029/2011SW00734;; P. O’Hare (et al.), “Multiradionuclide Evidence for an Extreme Solar Proton Event Around 2,610 B.P. (~ 660 B.C.),” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 116, 2019, pp. 5961-5966.


[103] M. Marcovici, Lesson Learned? Nuclear Energy after Fukishima, (Herstellung und Verlag, Norderstedt, 2013); R. Alvarez (et al.),  “Response by Authors to the NRC Review of “Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States,”” Science and Global Security, vol. 11, 2003, pp. 213-223; J. Hunter, “Electric Grid Under Attack: Here’s Why Nothing is Being Done,” January 20, 2016, at; H. Parry, “White House is Preparing for Catastrophic Solar Flares which Could Wipe Out Power Around the World for Months – Bringing an End to Modern Civilization as We Know It,” November 4, 2015, at; T. Koppel, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, (Crown, New York, 2015).




[105] Matthew Stein, “Geomagnetic Storms, EMP and Nuclear Armageddon,” Nexus, February-March, 2012, pp. 21-26, 80, at p. 22; “The Other Electrical Grid Failure Problem,” at


[106] National Academy of Sciences, Severe Space Weather Events: Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report, (Academies Press, Washington DC, 2008).


[107] T. Phillips, “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012,” NASA Science, July 23, 2014,


[108] National Academy of Sciences, as above, p. 77.


[109] Mashable News Staff, “It’s Not a Thunderstorm, it’s a Solar Storm that Can Destroy Earth by 2024,” Mashable India,


[110] C. Clark, “Why the Next Big Solar Storm Might Hit Earth Without Warning,” New Scientist, May 18, 2022,


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[113] R. J. Woolsey, Heading Toward an EMP Catastrophe, Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Washington DC, July 22, 2015,, p. 4.


[114] P. Pry, Iran: EMP Threat, as above, p. 23.


[115] R. J. Woolsey and P. V. Pry, “The Growing Threat from an EMP Attack,” Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2014,


[116]  P. Bedard, “New EMP Warning: US Will ‘Cease to Exist,’ 90 Percent of Population Will Die,” Washington Examiner, January 24, 2019,; S. A. Jyothi, “Superstorms: Planning for Internet Apocalypse,”






[119] L. Elliott, “Ukraine Invasion May be the Start of ‘Third World War’ Says George Soros,” The Guardian, May 25, 2022,


[120]  Miami Standard News Staff, “Charles Nenner Warns “One Third of Global Population Won’t Survive Next War Cycle,” Miami Standard, May 19, 2022, D. L. Armstrong, “Scott Ritter: 2023 Will be Our Last Year on the Planet,”… For an argument that Russia is likely to use nuclear weapons to “escalate to de-escalate”: A. Damon, “Are Nuclear Weapons the Next Red Line NATO Will Cross?” June 16, 2023, Sergey Karaganov, a member of the Scientific Council under the Russian Security Council, has put the case that Russia will ultimately be forced to launch a nuclear strike upon Europe: “Russian Security Council Writes Articles about the Need for Nuclear Strike on Europe,” June 26, 2023,


[121] A. Van Buskirk, “Collapse Won’t Reset Society,” Palladium, April 11, 2022,


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[123] I. Helfand, Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk? Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition, (2nd ed.), International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War/ Physicians for Social Responsibility,


[124] L. Xia et al., “Global Food Insecurity and Famine from Reduced Crop, Marine Fishing and Livestock Production Due to Climate Disruption from Nuclear War Soot Injection,” Nature Food, 2022,


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[126] D. B. Hay and P. Pry, “Could the Ukraine War Devolve into an EMP Apocalypse for America?” The Hill,


[127]  P. Pry, Blackout Warfare: Attacking the U. S. Electric Power Grid, A Revolution in Military Affairs, (EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Washington DC. 2021); P. Pry and D. Pyne, Catastrophe Now: America’s Last Chance to Prevent an EMP Disaster, (Independently Published, 2023).


[128] P. Pry, China EMP Threat: The People’s Republic of China Military Doctrine, Plans, and Capabilities for Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, (EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Washington DC, June 10, 2020), p. 1.


[129]  As above, p. 6.


[130] P. Pry, Iran: EMP Threat: The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Military Doctrine, Plans, and Capabilities for Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, (EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, April 30, 2022).


[131] As above, p. 19.


[132] C. Ponting, A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations, (Vintage Books, London, 2007).


[133] J. Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition, (Penguin Books, New York, 2011); N. Yoffee and G. L. Cowgill (eds), The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations, (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2003); W. Ophuls, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail, (CreateSpace, 2012).


[134]  E. Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, (Allen Lane, London, 1994). On the role of climate change in the fall of Rome, see K. Harper, “Climate Change, Disease and the Fall of Rome,” December 15, 2017, at; K. Harper, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2017).


[135] On social entropy see Ophuls, as above. On the self-destructive implications of increased societal complexity see J. A. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988).


[136] R. Nuwer, “How Western Civilization Could Collapse,” April 18, 2017, at


[137] Bill Gates Believes that a Coming Pandemic Could Kill at Least 30 Million People within Six Months,”


[138] N. Oreskes and E. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, (Columbia University Press, New York, 2014). On the threat which climate change has posed to past civilisations see:  M. H. Wiener, “The Interaction of Climate Change and Agency in the Collapse of Civilizations ca 2300-2000 BC,” Radiocarbon, vol. 56, 2014, pp. S1-S16; U. Bardi, The Seneca Effect: Why Growth is Slow But Collapse is Rapid, 2nd edition, (Springer, Chan, 2018); J. Bendell, “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy,” IFLAS Occasional Paper 2, December 2018,; R. Read and S. Alexander, This Civilisation is Finished: Conversations on the End of Empire  – and What Lies Beyond, (Simplicity Institute, 2019); G. R. McPherson (et al.), “Environmental Thresholds for Mass-Extinction Events,” Results in Engineering, vol. 13, 2022, 100342; W. Jackson and R. Jensen, An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity, (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 2022).




[140]  D. Mackie and J. Murray, Risky Business: The Climate and the Macroeconomy, J. P. Morgan, January 14, 2020,…, is a mainstream publication accepting that catastrophic climate effects cannot be ruled out.


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[142] Quoted from, O. Milman (et al.), “The Climate Disaster is Here,” October 14, 2021,


[143] V. P. Masson-Delmotte (et al.), IPCC 2021: Summary for Policy Makers. In 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group 1 to the Sixth Assessment Report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2021), p. 5.


[144] As above, p. 8.


[145] As above.


[146] As above.


[147] As above, p. 14.


[148] Anonymous, “Antonio Guterres Says Nations Need to Step Up Climate Change Action to Avoid ‘Catastrophic’ Path,” September 18, 2021,; United Nations Environment Programme, Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate Crisis Calls for Rapid Transformation of Societies,


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[150] Institute for Economics and Peace, Ecological Threat Report 2012: Understanding Ecological Threats, Resilience and Peace, October 2021,


[151] N. Stern, “Current Climate Models are Grossly Misleading,” Nature, vol. 530, 2016, pp. 407-409, cited p. 407.


[152] As above, p. 408.


[153] S. Borenstein, “Hot Poles: Antarctica, Arctic 40 and 30 Degrees Celsius Above Normal,” March 9, 2022,


[154]  S. Kaplan, “Crucial Antarctic Ice Shelf Could Fail within Five Years, Scientists Say,” The Washington Post, December 2021,


[155] C. Figueres (et al.), “Three Years to Safeguard Our Climate,” Nature, vol. 546, 2017, pp. 593-595, cited p. 593. The report cited in the quotation is: Carbon Tracker (et al.), 2020: The Climate Turning Point, at




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[165] As above.


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[172] J. Goodell, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World, (Little Brown and Company, New York, 2017); J. McKenzie, “ ‘ Uncharted Territory’: Warming Oceans and Disappearing Sea Ice Alarm Scientists,” June 8, 2023,… ;






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[188] P. Valdes, “Built for Stability,” Nature Geoscience, vol. 4, 2011, pp. 414-416, cited p. 415. There are also wild cards such as the discovery of extremely hot mantle plume under the Antarctic ice sheet, which is melting the ice sheet and creating under-ice lakes and rivers: H. Seroussi (et al.), “Influence of a West Antarctic Mantle Plume on Ice Sheet Basal Conditions,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, vol. 122, 2017, pp. 7127-7155.

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[190]  International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Migration Report 2018, at

[191]  F. Laczko and C. Aghazarm (eds),  Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence, (International Organization for Migration, 2009), at; B. Kamal, “Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050,” August 21, 2017, at


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[202] R. Saha, “The Permafrost Bomb is Ticking,” February 2, 2018, at covering 85 percent of Alaska is thawing leading to the ground collapsing in places: A. Bates, ‘Don’t Look Down,” April 20, 2022,




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[209]  A. Haines and K. Ebi, “The Imperative for Climate Action to Protect Health,” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 380, 2019, pp. 263-273.


[210] Anonymous, “Workers in Iraq Get Day Off as Temperatures Pass 50 C,” August 4, 2022,


[211] M. McFall-Johnsen, “Here’s How this Year’s Heatwaves are Impacting the World, and How We Can Prepare for the Future,” July 22, 2022,


[212] W. Steffen (et al.), “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 115, 2018, pp. 8252-8259.


[213] S. Kang and E. A. B. Eltahir, “North China Plain Threatened by Deadly Heatwaves Due to Climate Change and Irrigation,” Nature Communications, 2018, 9; 2894; doi.1038/541467-018-05252-y/.


[214] D. Wallace-Wells, “UN Says Climate Genocide is Coming. It’s Actually Worse than That,” October 10, 2018, at;; D. Wallace-Wells, “The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition,”; D. Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, (Tim Duggan Books, New York, 2019). K. Paoletta, “The Incredible Disappearing Doomsday,” Harpers’ Magazine, April 2023,… sees climate change reporters having a more rosy optimism, due to the decline in the price of renewables and the expectation of reducing predicted warming by half in the next five years. As shown in the main text, there is little evidence of such a radical reduction, with rising CO2 levels, fuelled by China’s industrial output.






[217] A. A. Berezin, ““First In, Last Out” Solution to the Fermi Paradox,”


[218] A. Frank (et al.), “The Anthropocene Generalized: Evolution of Exo-Civilizations and their Planetary Feedback,” Astrobiology, vol. 18, 2018,


[219] M. McGrath, “Climate Change: 12 Years to Save the Planet? Make that 18 Months,” July 24, 2019, at


[220] M. Green, “Think the Heatwave was Bad? Climate Already Hitting Key Tipping Points,” July 28, 2019, at; D. I. Armstrong McKay (et al.), “Exceeding 1.50 Global Warming Could Trigger Multiple Climate Tipping Points,” Science, vol. 377 (6611), 2022: eabn7950.


[221] F. Harvey, “World has Six Months to Avert Climate Crisis, Says Energy Expert,” June 18, 2020,


[222] T. Trainer, Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society, (Springer, New York, 2007); A. Friedemann, Life After Fossil Fuels: A Reality Check on Alternative Fuels, (Springer, Cham, 2021); D. Jensen, L. Keith and M. Wilbert, Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost its Way and What We Can do About It, (Monkfish, Rhinebeck, 2021). Former nuclear leaders have stated that it would take up to ten thousand new nuclear reactors to make an impact on climate change” “Former Nuclear Leaders: Say ‘No’ to New Reactors,” January 25, 2022,



[223] D. Carrington and M. Taylor, “Revealed: the ‘Carbon Bombs’ Set to Trigger Catastrophic Climate Breakdown,” May 11, 2022,; F. Friedlingstein (et al.), “Global Carbon Budget 2022,” htttps://


[224] Rhodium Group, “China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Exceeded the Developed World for First Time in 2019,” May 6, 2021,; J. Simon, “China is Building Six Times More New Coal Plants than Other Countries, Report Finds,” March 2, 2023,… China now accounts for 32 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, compared to the US with 14 percent, and the whole EU, 8 percent.


[225] S. Lewandowsky (et al.), “The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Mechanics of the Rejection of (Climate) Science: Simulating Coherence by Conspiracism,” Synthese, vol. 195, 2018, pp. 175-196; J. A. Harvey (et al.), “Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate Change Denial by Proxy,” Bioscience, vol. 68, 2018, pp. 281-287; C. Hamilton, Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change, (Black Inc, Melbourne, 2007). Faced with the failure of conventional approaches to dealing with climate change, geo-engineering measures, such as blocking out the Sun’s rays are under investigation, such as by the EU: “EU Looks into Blocking Out the Sun as Climate Efforts Falter,” The document notes that such actions could have environmental impacts such as creating water shortages, famines and other risks to ecosystems. And, it may require continuous seeding of the atmosphere.


[226] R. Schoellhammer, “A Popular Uprising Against the Elites has Gone Global,” July 7, 2022, at


[227] B. Dress, “Nearly One in Three Americans Say it May Soon be Necessary to Take Up Arms Against the Government,” The Hill, July 24, at…; Poll, “Our Precarious Democracy: Extreme Polarization and Alienation in Our Politics,”



[228] P. Turchin, Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History, (Beresta Books, Chaplin, 2016).


[229] As above, p.11.


[230]  As above; M. Papenfuss, “Society Could Collapse in a Decade, Predicts Math Historian,” January 7, 2017, at


[231] A Tooze, “Defining Polycrisis – From Crisis Pictures to the Crisis Matrix,” June 24, 2022, at


[232]  A. McMichael, Planetary Overload: Global Environmental Change and the Health of the Human Species, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993).


[233] Verisk Maplecroft, Civil Unrest Index,; P. Donahue, “Inflation and War are Stoking Civil Unrest Across Globe, Research Shows,” September 2, 2022,


[234] T. J. Doherty and S. Clayton, “The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change,” American Psychologist, vol. 66 2011, pp. 265-276; S. Koger, “Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Sustainability,” Sustainability, vol. 5, 2013, pp. 3006-3008; S. Clayton (et al.), “Psychological Research and Global Climate Change,” Nature Climate Change, vol. 5, 2015, pp. 640-646; S. V. Helm (et al.), “Differentiating Environmental Concern in the Context of Psychological Adaptation to Climate Change,” Global Environmental Change, vol. 48, 2018, pp. 158-167.


[235]  J. W. Smith, D. Shearman and S. Positano, Climate Change as a Crisis in World Civilization, (Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, 2008).


[236] M. Webster, “Psychological Reductionism, Methodological Individualism, and Large-Scale Problems,” American Sociological Review, vol. 38, 1973, pp. 258-273.


[237] R. J. Lazarus, “Super Wicked Problems and Climate Change: Restraining the Present to Liberate the Future,” Cornell Law Review, vol. 94, 2009, pp. 1153-1233.


[238] A. Harder, “Why Climate Change is Hard to Tackle: Our Stubborn Energy System,” August 26, 2019, at


[239] J. Martínez-Alier,  (et al.), “Sustainable De-Growth: Mapping the Context, Criticisms and Future Prospects of an Emergent Paradigm” Ecological Economics. vol. 69, 2010, pp 1741-1747.



[240]  See J. W. Smith (et al.), Climate Change as a Crisis in World Civilization, as above.


[241] R. Harrabin, “Climate Change: Big Lifestyle Changes ‘Needed to Cut Emissions’,” August 29, 2019, at


[242] See generally, S. C. Moser, “The Work After “It’s Too Late” (To Prevent Dangerous Climate Change)” WIREs Climate Change, 2020:11:e606,


[243] Global Commission on Adaptation, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience, (2019), at


[244]  As above, p. 3.


[245]  D. Carrington, “‘Climate Apartheid:’ UN Expert Says that Human Rights May Not Survive,” June 25, 2019, at


[246] G. Hardin, “Living on a Lifeboat,” BioScience, vol. 24, 1974, pp. 561-568.


[247]  J. W. Smith and S. Positano, The Self-Destructive Affluence of the First World: The Coming Crisis of Global Poverty and Ecological Collapse, (Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, 2010).


[248] G. Kallis, “In Defence of Degrowth,” Ecological Economics, vol. 70, 2011, pp. 873-880; G. Zovanyi, The No-Growth Imperative: Creating Sustainable Communities Under Ecological Limits to Growth, (Routledge, London and New York, 2013); T. Jackson, Prosperity Without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow, (Routledge, London and New York, 2016).


[249]  W. Ophuls, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail, (CreateSpace, 2012).


[250] C. Dilworth, Too Smart for Our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Humankind, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009); D. MacKenzie, “Why the Demise of Civilisation May be Inevitable,” New Scientist, no. 2650, 2008, pp. 32-35.


[251] J. M. Greer, Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead, (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2016).


[252] G. McPherson, Going Dark, Second Edition, (Independently Published, 2019).


[253] L. Dartnell, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch, (The Bodley Head, London, 2014).


[254]  As above, pp. 23-24.


[255] F. Hoyle, Of Men and Galaxies, (University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1964), p. 64.


[256] D. Price, “Energy and Human Evolution,” Population and Environment, vol. 16, 1995, pp. 301-319, cited pp. 315-316.


[257] Dartnell, The Knowledge, at p. 21.


[258] As above.


[259] A. Harvey and C. Baker, Savage Grace: Living Resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe, (iUniverse, Bloomington, 2017).


[260] R. Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, (Penguin, New York, 2010).


[261] S. Begovic, The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival: The Brutal Truth about Violence, Death & Mayhem You Must Know to Survive, (Daisy Luther Media, 2018); T. Durden, “Here’s What happens to Society When the System Fails,” January 28, 2023,


[262] D. Orlov, The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit, (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2013).


[263] M. Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, (Vintage Books, New York, 1973), p. 387.

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