There’s a flurry of interest about a new NASA-funded study on the prospect that our complex industrial societies are poised for collapse. It indeed sounds like a very interesting piece of work. But is this new? Jared Diamond’s Collapse was surely a forerunner. Paul Seabright’s The Company of Strangers majored on the potential fragility of the complex, intertwined global economy in which we all depend on the activities and goodwill of strangers – so far, so good but clearly vulnerable.
For me (as discussed in The Economics of Enough) the moral is that the unsustainable is never sustained, and the only question is how society moves to the sustainable trajectory – sustainability including the social and financial as well as the ecological dimensions. Collapse is the least desirable option.