10 Premises Behind Collapse 2050

What does "collapse" mean? What will the downfall of civilization look like? What am I suggesting people do? What if I'm wrong?

10 Premises Behind Collapse 2050
Photo by Yaoqi / Unsplash

People look at my username on Twitter or title of this website and jump to conclusions about the way I think. Some 'get' me straight away, while others formulate their own incorrect narratives.

What does "collapse" mean? What will the downfall of civilization look like? What am I suggesting people do? What if I'm wrong?

To better understand my thinking on collapse, read my 10 premises below and share your own in the comments.

Premise 1: Existential risks are converging

This is not just about rising CO2. There are converging crises driving collapse. The combination of climate change, ecological destruction, declining EROEI and AI will overwhelm civilization at some point.

Regardless of the cause, our fate ultimately comes down to our ability to grow food - something we have done for about 12,000 years under a stable climate. Agriculture requires predictability. Modern agriculture requires energy (transportation, mechanization, fertilizer). The poly-crisis is straining our ability to produce enough food to feed 8+ billion people.

AI is the wildcard, but it is emerging at such a speed that the risk of unpredictable damage is growing rapidly.

Note how I didn't mention nuclear war or civil strife. While I believe these become more probable as the poly-crisis emerges, these are symptoms and not causes.

The Poly-Crisis
I’m afraid the best we can hope for now is to delay the inevitable and mitigate the consequences.

Premise 2: Collapse is a mathematical certainty

Collapse - however you define it - is almost a mathematical certainty at this point. The economic system, regulatory capture and individual behaviors are baked into the maintenance of civilization. Stepping back requires a decline in living standards, so few will voluntarily do so.

Importantly, the 'math' suggests a discontinuous change in the future, not the past. Those relying on civilization's record of success - built on a temporary influx of high EROEI energy, no less - will miss the left turn as it approaches.

Recognizing that people inherently seek to confirm the status quo and have little desire to leave their comfort zones, I don't suggest people do anything that isn't accessible. Maybe eat less meat, fly less, consume less, but nowhere do I ask people to eat bugs, shut off their heat or live in a cave.

My expectations are low, because I know few will do anything. Besides, based on cumulative emissions to date, much of the future's devastation is set. We can still limit the damage, but we probably won't.

Premise 3: "Collapse" could follow a range of paths

I don't know when, where or how collapse unfolds, although it is clearly the direction in which we're headed.

The term "collapse" has many interpretations, and could come as a sudden shock or a grinding deterioration. Arguably, this slow deterioration began sometime around the turn of the century.

The end result is also debatable. Complete human extinction? Downsized population with similar living standards? Small bands of humans living in caves? Who knows. However, I do take the time to think out each thread.

I believe the future exists on multiple paths, each with its own probability. I invest time hypothesizing outcomes and pathways that may or may not occur. This exercise stems from my risk background and recognition that low probability/high impact events must be hypothesized, studied and mitigated.

Premise 4: People can mitigate by preparing

For those interested in doing something about these converging crises, I advocate for building resilience and self sufficiency. This can partly be done by minimizing reliance on the system that seeks to destroy us (i.e. buying less crap). The other side is to be healthy, strong and self-reliant. Eat well, stay fit and develop useful skills.

I think we should all grow as much food as we can. While it's not realistic for most people to replace 100% of their calories with homegrown food, replacing a portion of bought food reduces expenses and dependence on others. In fact, if we all did this society would be less vulnerable to shocks to the system - breadbasket failure or transportation failure.

How to Collapse: Mass Starvation
The biggest threat to human survival is the sustainability of key crops under the stresses of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

Premise 5: I'm not here to change minds

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. It's too late for that. I'm speaking to those who care and wish to make the most of whatever we have left.

Premise 6: To see humanity's problem, one requires a systems view

I'm not a scientist. My background is in finance and I have spent over 15 years examining systemic issues, with particular interest in peak oil, economic hazards, tail risks, behavior and geopolitics. During that time, my concern about the biosphere has grown considerably.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach, I connect the seemingly disparate puzzle pieces to develop my view of the world. This makes me more of a detective, observing, understanding and communicating a completed mosaic.

Premise 7: I'm trying to create a sense of community

One of the reasons I write is to validate the insights and feelings many of us internalize. At a time when "doomers" are vilified, many understandably keep their dire views to themselves. But this is not something we should suffer alone. This is a safe place to share and relate.

Living with/in Fear
There are more like you than you think.

Premise 8: I hope I'm wrong

I would love to be wrong about all this.

Premise 9: Respectful, objective disagreement has its place

I welcome respectful disagreement that adds to the discussion, as it helps to strengthen opinions one way or another. Some of the most well-thought-out dissent examines the methodologies used to calculate scientific findings. However, some arguments simply defy logic.

Occasionally I will respond, but I'm not here for an argument. Like I said, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Moreover, I think the scientific debates should be left to those with the most knowledge and data - the scientists.

Also, despite what many "deniers" suggest, I'm not getting rich writing about systems collapse. (If there is a pot of money available, please let me know.) This endeavor is entirely reader-supported. No ads, no sponsorships, no paid editorials. This keeps Collapse 2050 unadulterated.

Collapse 2050 Manifesto
Climate change. Economic collapse. AI takeover. Nuclear exchange. Class warfare. The risks are real. Things are getting worse and we all see the signs around us. Civilization is crumbling, yet nobody talks about it. How can you when only a small portion of the population is “collapse aware”. Nobody wants

Premise 10: I don't know everything and I make mistakes

I am constantly learning, and evolving my thought based on new information and feedback I receive from you and the scientific community. I've changed by thinking with time, and reserve the right to do so in the future.

Also, sometimes things come out the wrong way. On occasion, I've written content that delivered an unintended message. I don't have an editor. It happens. But I'm happy that you keep me honest.