NASA Study Says Rich People Will Destroy Human Civilization

In the wake of yesterday’s contemplation of my own poor money habits, I thought it fitting to share a story that confirms my poor impulse control in actually helping save human civilization as we know it. Woo, go me.

Apparently, a new NASA study has determined that modern civilization is doomed to collapse and that it’s due to happen in the next few decades. And the reason for this collapse? It’s not climate change or nuclear war; it’s due to rich people. More precisely: social stratification and unequal distribution of resources:

Motesharri investigated the factors that could lead to the fall of civilization, which included population growth and climate change, the New Zealand Herald reported. He found that when such issues interact, they can cause the breakdown of society through the “stretching of resources” and “the economic stratification of society into ‘Elites’ and ‘Masses’.”

Using different scenarios, Motesharri and his fellow researchers found that collapse is difficult to avoid under the current conditions. In these scenarios, they discovered that elite wealth monopolies are affected much later by environmental collapse than common people, which allows them to continue their “business as usual” way of living despite the catastrophe, according to the Guardian.

Human civilization is in its twilight and it’s mainly due to income disparity and the control of resources. The next time someone on Fox News opines that it’s wrong to punish success by taxing the rich, you can point out that if we don’t tax the rich to make them less rich, human civilization ends.

I don’t know about you, not being rich myself, but I’d feel really bad if I was the cause of the collapse of civilization.

Worry not, for there is hope! But if you have a lot of money or if you watch Fox News, you’re probably not going to like what that hope requires. That’s right, it’s time to pucker up and kiss communism right on its big, Marxist-Leninist-socialist-whatever-ist loving lips.

However, the researchers stated that society can avoid collapse with the right policies and structural changes, which can also lead to the creation of a more stable and advanced society, the Guardian reported. The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality to make sure resources are distributed fairly, and to reduce the consumption of resources by relying less on limited resources and bringing down population growth. With these changes, the “business as usual” model can end and civilization can be saved and evolve.

I don’t know about this. Sounds more like class warfare and typical liberal propaganda to me. Instead of unpleasant policy and structural changes (socialism!), we should “something something something job creators something something it’s what Jesus would have wanted.”

Okay, enough jokes. I actually do believe there’s a real story here, so I’ll turn off the sarcasm for a moment and speak directly. Is the end really “extremely fucking nigh?”

Maybe. On all matters of doomsaying, I remain cautiously optimistic. I generally think that people are good and we’re capable of saving ourselves from destruction. Predictions of doom are a dime a dozen, both from street prophets and well-meaning scientists alike.

On the other hand, civilization is a remarkably fragile thing. It is rather like a spider-web; beautiful and strong but still fragile and in need of constant repair. Civilizations before ours have fallen to war, to social collapse, to neglect, to the failure to adapt to new paradigms.

We’d be arrogant indeed to assume that just because we have the Internet and smartphones, we’re immune to the pendulum of history and the caprice of nature.

Wealth inequality is a real problem, not just in the United States but across the entire world.

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3 thoughts on “NASA Study Says Rich People Will Destroy Human Civilization”

  1. Here’s a link to the study: http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp/096/050/ecp14096050.pdf

    An important quote to remember about science came from George Box, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” With that in mind, let’s look at how the model in this paper is wrong, to consider if it might be useful.

    First, inequality in their model does not arise naturally. The model includes a *very* strict class system. There are “Commoners” and “Elites,” and it is impossible for a person to transition from one to the other. Moreover, commoners give birth only to commoners, while elites only give birth to elites. Additionally, the birth rates are constant, and the death rates are a function of wealth.

    Second, the model assumes that all wealth is created by commoners. IE, the elite are totally freeloaders.

    Third, the model assumes that the carrying capacity of the environment is a constant, and ignores the impact of technology. There are two carrying capacities, the regular carrying capacity is the capacity which relies only on renewable resources, and the “maximum carrying capacity” which requires society to dip into non-renewable resources.

    With this in mind, it’s not at all surprising that the model says that elites will tank the system because, by design, they contribute absolutely nothing to society. It’s assumed by the model.

    That said, are these assumptions reasonable? I, personally, don’t think so. For one thing, the model ignores the effect of technology. The carrying capacity of the environment increases when humans create technologies that make more efficient use of resources. For example, crop rotations allow us to get more out of the land for food. New machines allow us to get generate more wealth per worker. Many of these innovations come from the freeloading “elite” who have the education and means to make these ideas into reality.

    Another one is the constant birth rate. While this might have been a good model in the past, I don’t think we can ignore the impact that birth control has had on mankind. In case you weren’t aware, the more wealthy the country, the lower the birth rate. This seems to suggest that birth rate should be a function of wealth for a modern society.

    Now, like I said before, “All models are wrong,” so the fact that this model has some problems shouldn’t be a wholesale indictment against it. The real question should be “is it useful?” Personally, I think we can learn something important from this model, specifically that the society seems to be blind to the “renewable” vs “maximum” carrying capacity, causing it to overshoot to an unsustainable population. It should be pointed out that if you look at the paper, even in a perfectly egalitarian society with no elites, this *still* happens if the parameters of the model are right.

    However, the model doesn’t offer solutions to this problem. Personally, I think the best solution is technology that allows for an increase of the renewable carrying capacity. Unfortunately, because the model neglects technology, there’s no way to implement this idea. The only suggestion the model offers is to cap the population. To me, this is an unsatisfying answer.

  2. When one looks at the true values of all human life with open eyes, then it cannot be disputed that these true values have been smothered by the hands of greed, selfishness, pride, division and hate. These are the hands that are rapidly destroying the existance of all life on our blue planet earth.
    Without any doubt, it can be said that not less than 72% of the World’s human population have lost the true human values of respect, compassion, appreciation, unity, co-operation, commitment and love. These are the true human values that are buried beneath the dirt of financial and political towers throughout the world today.
    So yes, the earth is rapidly being destroyed by the great evil hands of financial greed and power, which knows NO MERCY at all. But! What these great evil hands refuse to acknowledge and accept is, that once everything is destroyed and brought to an end, their financial and political towers will tumble and become worthless dust.

  3. Wow. I cannot decide which part to tackle first, this is all so wrong.
    This is just the latest variation on the old “Big Lie” propaganda technique. None of what was quoted from this “study” is true.

    1. Name one culture/civilization that failed because the rich consumed so much that there were not enough resources for the “commoners”. One cannot, because it has never, ever, happened.
    (Aside: only committed, European-style Leftist elitists use the term “commoner”, as in this “study”).
    Certainly in failing cultures there are those who are better off than others, but as the society declines, they too must consume less, because there is a declining pool of available resources available at higher and higher prices.
    There are fewer resources not because they have been used up at too great a rate, but because the culture no longer has the economic vitality (and / or military strength) needed to gain access to those resources- typically due to idiotic government policies and inept leadership- meaning that goods become scare for all when the society begins to fail. It is an effect, not a cause.
    Of course, when there is scarcity it will affect some more than others because wealth is not equally distributed. Nor should it be, ever, if we are to have prosperity for all who are willing to work.
    2. Aside from the fact that income or wealth inequality is a Fact Of Life, one cannot find any historical reference that supports the contention that it leads to societal decline. That’s because just the opposite is true. The potential for increased wealth, and the freedom to pursue it, is what allowed the U.S. to zoom ahead of Europe over the last several generations.
    Although we still have those with more than others, the “have lesses” in this country have enormously more than their counterparts in other countries, specifically because of their own potential for increased, and perhaps enormous, wealth. The motivation for increased wealth creates added wealth through investment, job creation, and innovation. This is made possible only by individuals who are successful enough to amass more wealth than they need, i.e., wealth that can be turned over via investment. Does anyone really believe that the rich hoard all of their wealth, keeping it out of the economy? If they did, how could they engage in the orgy of resource consumption that the “study” claims leads to societal failure?
    Are there any examples of societies that had equally distributed wealth and have demonstrated great growth and increased standards of living? Of course not-the only such societies have been those where all were equally poor, and they go nowhere.
    Wealth accumulates unequally because of the differing levels of intelligence, drive, and the details of philosophies imparted during upbringing, the combination of these aspects being different for each person.
    If one could artificially redistribute wealth equally, as all pie-eyed socialists wish to do, the immediate result would be to squelch growth due to inadequately concentrated investment capital. Entire sectors of endeavor would be out of everyone’s price range, and so would disappear, and with it the jobs, technological innovation, and wealth creation that go with it. Everyone might have a bit more cash at first, but will they invest it, or spend it? Economics suggests that pretty soon prices would rise to meet available income against a slower growing set of goods. Consider what happened to house prices in New York City and California, two areas which led the way in promoting professional education for women, and thus making almost all households “dual income”. This effect is especially pronounced if wealth is artificially inflated. Enjoy your $15 dollar hamburger. That is, such imposed equality of wealth actually destroys wealth creation.
    Over the long term, the society may grow again, but only if wealth is allowed to naturally accumulate unequally.
    3. Why do societies decline? All examples in history point to intellectual laziness and moral decline. Believing nonsense and not caring about anything but oneself. Who leads us down this path? They are the very same ones who espouse such “studies” as this one. Of course, these pseudointellectual elite always wind up in the “haves” column- at everyone else’s expense.
    The nonsense at the root of the socialist’s foolishness (in addition to a fundamental, willful ignorance of economics, mathematics, science, and history), is his unquestioned acceptance of The “Finite Pie” theorem. That theorem states that the “Pie” (resources, wealth, etc.) is only so big, and can’t be any bigger.
    – This is why they believe that the rich can only be rich if others are poor.
    – It is how they can believe, simultaneously and without reservation, that the rich somehow are consuming more than their share of resources while somehow pulling off the magic trick of keeping the money that they use to buy the resources from leaving their wallets and flowing to those of others.
    – It is why they think that we are burning through our resources dangerously quickly, despite the fact that, as Julian Simon proved, each year we have more different types of resources, and more of each type, than in previous years. That is, the Finite Pie adherents do not really know what a resource is- that yesterday’s junk is tomorrow’s gold (e.g., uranium, oil, etc.) while today’s useful item is tomorrow’s trash (e.g., buggy whips).
    – This is why, in by far the most tortured logic quoted from the “study”, they lament the apparent failure of CAFE gas mileage requirements levied by the Feds because it allows people to just drive more and burn up the same amount of fuel. Dammit, as wrong-headed as CAFE standards are, that is exactly what the goal was when they were imposed!
    The mileage standards were never supposed to reduce the amount of fuel used; they were supposed to make the amount of fuel available (due to refining capacity, transportation infrastructure, etc.) go farther. Those people with more efficient cars are not burning up that gas on joyrides; they’re using it to go to and from work! They’re trying to create economic wealth! In other words, CAFE Standards are a Conservation technique, not an environmentalist move to reduce our “carbon footprint”, whatever that is.
    Those who believe that CAFE standards are a long-term fix are shortsighted, foolish, or both. As a conservation technique they can help in the short run to make the available fuel meet the demand. In the long run, however, only a fool will believe that CAFE standards can be raised indefinitely- trying to do so will eventually bump up against those pesky laws of physics. Gas-powered vehicles so regulated will eventually become less capable and too expensive to use, thereby destroying freedom to travel for almost all but the very rich, and thus destroying everyone’s opportunity for increased wealth.

    Those who believe the Finite Pie myth cannot conceive that the Pie can be made to grow- very predictably and rapidly, in fact, benefitting everyone- if the correct lessons of history are applied via implementation of sound policies.

    Finite Pie types do not understand how real progress works, even though there have been ample examples of how it works. The story of America in the 20th Century is the greatest expression of how progress really works, and yet these socialists are so blind that they can’t see it even though they’ve lived through a good chunk of it. A true “progressive”, someone who wants real progress, would view CAFE standards as a stopgap measure to be used sparingly until more capacity can be created to supply the economy (Keystone pipeline? New refineries?), and until an even better solution- a new form of propulsion that is quantitatively and qualitatively better than gasoline internal combustion engines- comes along. And when it comes, it will come from through directed, scientific effort, not from socialistic wishful thinking.

    I’m certainly not the smartest guy in the world, but these guys are morons who believe that they’re geniuses.

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