Thongchai Thailand

A VOLATILE RISE OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION?

Posted on: October 24, 2020

Biblioteca

The Collapse of Complex Societies – Joseph Tainter – Séamus Sweeney
European-American blog: Joseph Tainter: 'The Collapse of Complex Societies.'  Part Two
Collapse of Complex Societies | Bulldozer00's Blog
The Oil Drum | Joseph Tainter - Human Resource Use: Timing and Implications  for Sustainability

THIS POST IS A FURTHER STUDY OF OUR OBSESSION WITH A COMING COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION PRESENTED IN RELATED POSTS:

LINK#1: https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/08/16/collapse/

LINK#2: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/02/29/prophets-of-doom/

LINK#3: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/04/16/theend/

Sir David Attenborough joins Instagram to warn 'the world is in trouble' -  BBC News
James Hansen wishes he wasn't so right about global warming
Doomster Paul Ehrlich Unrepentant: “My language would be even more  apocalyptic today.” – Reason.com

OUR OBSESSION WITH THE COMING COLLAPSE OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION THAT PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN ENVIRONMENTALISM IS SEEN IN THE POPULATION BOMB HYPOTHESIS AND THE CATASTROPHIC ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING HYPOTHESIS DESCRIBED IN RELATED POSTS ON THIS SITE.

THE OBSESSION IS BASED ON THE RISE AND FALL DYNAMICS OF CIVILIZATION SEEN THROUGHOUT HISTORY FROM THE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION AT THE START OF THE HOLOCENE TO THE PRESENT. THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THIS LINE OF THINKING.

From Hunters to Settlers: How the Neolithic Revolution Changed the World |  Ancient Origins
Space Age: Nasa's Story | WTTW

ABSTRACT: HERE WE USE A VOLATILITY MODEL FOR THE RISE AND FALL DYNAMICS OF CIVILIZATION AND PROPOSE THAT THE SPECTACULAR ADVANCE IN HUMAN WELFARE FROM THE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION TO THE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES OF THE INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY IS THE CREATION OF THIS VOLATILE PROCESS. THE HUMAN OBSESSION WITH FEAR OF A COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE VOLATILITY MODEL WHERE THE HISTORY OF REPEATED RISE AND FALL OF CIVILIZATION IS SEEN NOT AS A ZERO SUM GAME BUT SIMPLY AS THE VOLATILITY IN THE PROCESS THAT CREATES LONG TERM GAINS. THE VOLATILITY MODEL IS CONSISTENT WITH THE RESILIENCE MODEL OF FAULSEIT AND INCONSISTENT WITH THE COMPLEXITY MODEL OF TAINTER BECAUSE THE SUBSEQUENT RESILIENT RISES OF CIVILIZATIONS CREATE GREATER AND GREATER COMPLEXITY AND ACHIEVE GREATER AND GREATER HUMAN WELFARE THEREBY.

Joseph Tainter | GenevaGlobal

JOSEPH TAINTER: ARCHAEOLOGIST, ANTHROPOLOGIST, HISTORIAN

PART-1: WHAT THE TAINTER BOOK SAYS

(1) Kando(2013): A summary of the Tainter Hypothesis by fellow blogger Professor Emeritus Tom Kando. LINK: https://european-americanblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/joseph-tainter-collapse-of-complex_10.html : (Edited and abbreviated). The consensus today is that it is possible to overcome the limits to increasing complexity of civilization through technological innovation but environmentalism disagrees. Tainter compares and contrast these two views of sustainability. Jared Diamond argues that staying the present course will result in collapse, due to scarcity of environmental resources. On the other side are the technological optimists, who reject Malthusianism and other doomsday scenarios where innovation is the key. As long as Research and Development are funded sufficiently, progress will continue. Tainter says that innovation is subject to the laws of complexity and the law of diminishing returns. This pattern is seen in Military and Medical research. It is a pattern of diminishing returns. Recently, Tainter analyzed five million patents to assess the long-term rate of productivity and innovation and found an increase in the size of patenting teams, an increase in research complexity, and a decline in per person productivity. Innovation productivity has also declined in bio-medical research, in energy, in solar and wind technology, in information technology and in nano-technology. The productivity of all scientific research is declining. According to Tainter, in the next 10 to 30 years (from 1988) American technological civilization will run into these traps: Funding the retirement of the baby boomers, The rise of health care costs, The decaying infrastructure, The environmental crisis, The energy crisis, High military costs, Increasing cost of technological and scientific innovation. The problem is cumulative complexity that undermines sustainability. Tainter says that the cumulative cost of complexity will destroys us but he does not advocate steady state because full employment for a growing population requires economic growth. Here are some comments from the audience after Tainter’s lecture: (1) Does Tainter know of societies which had survived the challenge of collapse caused by complexity? (2) Are there any societies which saw the light in time and survived? (Answer: The Byzantine Empire). (3): What about the sustainability of Australian aborigines, American Indians and other pre-industrial societies that are still with us today? Tom Kando (2013) concludes that “Tainter’s analysis is flawless. He is correct in calling for a conversation about our future, a conversation which we are NOT having“.

PROFESSOR EMERITUS, TOM KANDO

RELATED WORKS WITH REGARD TO Tainter, Joseph. The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge university press, 1988. BOOK.

(1) GREEN PLANET BLUES (2014): 27. BOOK REVIEW by Michael Bassey, Professor Emeritus Nottingham Trent University 2015: In 1972 The Limits to Growth report from the Club of Rome and reports of the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm alerted many to the future dangers facing Planet Earth. The Book explains why documents like these caught the public imagination and conscience but today those concerned about climate change are frustrated. Global policies develop slowly in relation to the scale of problems. Although many political leaders around the world express concern about global warming and environmental degradation, the political will to take effective action is lacking. In the Global North, civil society has concentrated on climate change exclusively as an environmental issue and has focused on scientific and technical solutions such as emission controls and carbon credits. In the Global South, climate change has emerged primarily as a sustainable development issue, whose solutions are seen as inseparable from larger issues of poverty, trade and globalization. Consider what the development of plastics has done. The North Pacific Gyre is a dead zone and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where jellyfish ingest tiny plastic pellets in a floating graveyard of plastic at least twice the size of the US state of Texas. So what action should governments take? We need for international co-operation. Maybe the challenge of global environmental governance is to fill the ‘anarchic’ space of an ungoverned world system with laws and rules that can change environmentally destructive behaviour or maybe it is to reform or transform deeply imbedded political-economic practices that already govern the world system: trade, foreign investment, development assistance, multinational corporate activity. Bottom line, the challenge of achieving international co-operation is immense. Is this a task for the United Nations? The UN says climate change is real, and it is accelerating in a dangerous manner… It is a threat to international peace and security, yet deniers disagree. The UN Secretary-General says millions of people are in danger of going short of food and water. Climate refugees are re-shaping the human geography of the planet, a trend that will only increase as deserts advance, forests are felled and sea-levels rise. Mega-crises may well become the new norm. Free-trade politics have taken a heavy toll on the environment. The U.N. has documented growing problems with air, soil and water contamination, the result of urbanization and the modernization of agriculture. Sustainability and the UN’s SDG initiative is seen as a potentially effective response to global environmental problems. We must seek justice for the poor of the world. We need to “re-imagine” our unbalanced global economy with policies for the world’s poorest and reduce the damage done by consumer goods on vulnerable ecosystems. “Environmental degradation is everyone’s problem, but it’s especially a problem for the poor. Their position is precarious, so when things go wrong, whether it’s pollution or rising sea levels they are less able to respond. Inequality is a fundamental consideration in environmental policies. Awareness of the degradation of our planet and the need for urgent international action should be the top priority of us all. As Europe, the US and the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa continue to promote development models that rely on economic growth driven by over-consumption. How much longer can human society can continue on this path?

Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization,  and Transformation in Complex Societies (Visiting Scholar Conference ...  Investigations Occasional Paper No. 42): Faulseit, Ronald K., Anderson, J.  Heath, Conlee, Christina ...
Ronald "Sonny" Faulseit | Pierce College - Academia.edu

(2): THE RESILIENCE HYPOTHESIS OF RONALD FAULSEIT

Faulseit, Ronald K., ed. Beyond collapse: Archaeological perspectives on resilience, revitalization, and transformation in complex societies. SIU Press, 2016. RESEARCHGATE LINK: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289378675_Beyond_Collapse_Archaeological_Perspectives_on_Resilience_Revitalization_and_Transformation_in_Complex_Societies

ABSTRACT: With regard to the Maya. The Romans. The great dynasties of ancient China, it is generally believed that these once mighty empires eventually crumbled and disappeared. A recent trend in archaeology, however, focusing on what happened during and after the decline of once powerful societies has found social resilience and transformation rather than collapse. In Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies, editor Ronald K. Faulseit gathers scholars with diverse theoretical perspectives to present innovative approaches to understanding the decline and reorganization of complex societies in the form of a collection of essays. Essays in the book are arranged into five sections. The first section addresses previous research on the subject of collapse and reorganization as well as recent and historic theoretical trends. In the second section, contributors look at collapse and resilience through the concepts of collective action, eventful archaeology, and resilience theory. The third section introduces critical analyses of the effectiveness of resilience theory as a heuristic tool for modeling the phenomena of collapse and resilience. In the fourth section, contributors examine long-term adaptive strategies employed by prehistoric societies to cope with stresses. Essays in the fifth section make connections to contemporary research on post-decline societies in a variety of time periods and geographic locations. Contributors consider collapse and reorganization not as unrelated phenomena but as integral components in the evolution of complex societies. Using archaeological data to interpret how ancient civilizations responded to various stresses—including environmental change, warfare, and the fragmentation of political institutions—contributors discuss not only what leads societies to collapse but also why some societies are resilient and others are not, as well as how societies reorganize after collapse. The implications of the fate of these societies for modern nations cannot be underestimated. Putting in context issues we face today, such as climate change, lack of social diversity, and the failure of modern states, Beyond Collapse is an essential volume for readers interested in human-environment interaction and in the collapse—and subsequent reorganization—of human societies.

Middleton, Guy D. “The show must go on: collapse, resilience, and transformation in 21st-century archaeology.” Reviews in Anthropology 46.2-3 (2017): 78-105. Collapse is a theme addressed by specialists from many disciplines, from environmental and sustainability studies to popular culture and the hard sciences, as well as by archaeologists and historians. This review focuses on three recent books about past collapses and sets them in the context of collapse studies. The new contributions build on the growing body of collapse theory and increasing data on individual case studies, but each takes a new direction, adding to the ongoing debates about collapse, resilience, and transformation. While taking us forward, it is apparent that issues of definition and terminology are still an issue in collapse studies. The review also demonstrates that collapse is an area of lively research that can be regarded as a recognizable subfield of archaeological and historical research that also crosses over into other disciplines. Footnote: My ideas on the recent developments in collapse studies were partly worked out in preparation for a lecture entitled “Understanding Collapse,” one of a series of lectures on collapse that I gave at Charles University, Prague (April 24–26, 2017).

Why Did the Mayan Civilization Collapse? A New Study Points to  Deforestation and Climate Change | Science | Smithsonian Magazine
What Makes a Civilization Collapse?
Is Civilization on the Verge of Collapse? | Events

CRITICAL COMMENTARY

(1) In a related post we interpret the repeated claims by climate activists, particularly Sir David Attenborough that the current global warming period of the Holocene will cause a Collapse of Civilization. LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/08/16/collapse/ , There we describe the Late Bronze Age collapse (LBAC) as a collapse of civilization caused by climate change and not complexity that had resulted in extended droughts at centennial time scales over a significant global extent. The collapse involved a large number of civilizations at different levels of complexity. The Archaeological data show that a long gap of more than a 200 years of a Dark Age followed the LBAC with no evidence of the great LBA civilization and global economy until the Early Iron Age-1 when an entirely new kind of global economy grew from the ashes of the LBAC. Although other theories of the LBAC have been proposed, the climate change theory predominates and is now the generally accepted theory of the LBAC.

(2) It is noted that significant uncertainties in the archaeological record and its radiocarbon dating facilitate a number of different theories of the LBAC to coexist although climate change is now the generally accepted theory. We also note in that post that religions prior to the LBAC do not contain a Judgement Day “end of the world” of any kind. However, religions that got started in the Early Iron Age right after the Dark Ages of the LBAC do contain a catastrophic end of the world of some kind as for example in Matthew 24 below.

MATTHEW24 IN REVELATIONS: Collapse of Civilization: When the disciples came up to Jesus to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places and then the end will come. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again.Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

(3) It is likely that the existence of doomology in our time in the form of an obsession with collapse of civilization similar to the LBAC, but framed in terms of current events such as the industrial economy, climate change, population growth, or in Tainter’s complexity model, ultimately derive from a distant genetic memory of the LBAC. It may be that modern iron age humans carry a doomsday gene that creates the genetic memory of the LBAC and our inner forecast of our distant future therefore tends to be tainted and painted with this horrific memory of the collapse of civilization.

minoan5
Doomster Paul Ehrlich Unrepentant: “My language would be even more  apocalyptic today.” – Reason.com
Sir David Attenborough joins Instagram to warn 'the world is in trouble' -  BBC News
Joseph Tainter | GenevaGlobal

(4) In a related post {LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/10/04/james-burke-the-science-guy/ } science historian James Burke traces the history of human civilization through the Holocene from its inception in the Holocene Climate Optimum {LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/08/20/the-holocene-optimum-period-a-bibliography/ } through the cycles of warming and cooling of the Holocene {LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/06/11/chaoticholocene/ } to the current warm period to show that in the prior ten Holocene temperature cycles climate change determined human activity but that in the current warm period that causation has been reversed such that human activity causes climate change. In the presentation both the rise and the collapse of human civilizations in the Holocene are attributed to climate change and not to complexity.

(5) The two relevant features of the James Burke presentation described above are that (1) the collapse of civilization was caused by climate change and not by complexity and (2) through all those rise and fall of human civilizations, each subsequent civilization is greater with humans much better off than they were in the prior civilization. This means that in the rise and fall of human civilization seen in the history of the Holocene described by James Burke, each collapse of civilization leads to a greater civilization with greater complexity than the one that collapsed. In the overall trend across the eight or so civilization cycles we don’t see the flat stagnant cycle seen in textbooks (Chart#1) but a sequence in which the human condition goes through remarkable improvement and gains from one civilization cycle to the next (Chart#3).

(6) Using a stock market analogy, we show below a volatile market with no long term gains in CHART#2. This market represents the zero net gain rise and fall cycle of civilization subsumed in the Tainter and Ehrlich complexity model of the history of rise and the fall of civilization. However, this is not what has happened over the 8,000 years of Holocene civilization dynamics. There have been significant long term gains in human civilization over the full span of the Holocene. The corresponding stock market analogy is shown in CHART#3.

(7) CONCLUSION: In the volatility model, the rise and fall of civilization can be understood simply as the volatile mechanism in the long term advance of humans on earth. It is true that the volatility has been painful in the collapse leg of the cycle and the assumption is that we would be better off without the volatility. Yet, the resilience model implies a recovery that is stronger than the fall. Therefore, the volatility can be understood as the mechanism of our long term gains over the full span of the history of human civilization. We don’t start over from ground zero but from a resilience advantage described by Faulseit. CHART-1 AND CHART-2 BELOW SHOW THE ASSUMED VERSION OF THESE CYCLES BY TAINTER AND EHRLICH. CHART-3 SHOWS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

The Rise & Fall of Empires, Nations, & City States | Armstrong Economics
CHART#1: TEXTBOOK CHART OF THE RISE AND FALL OF CIVILIZATIONS

What Is the Best Measure of Stock Price Volatility?
CHART#2: STOCK MARKET ANALOGY: VOLATILITY WITH NO LONG TERM GAIN

The Most Volatile Stocks With Volume For Short-Term Traders
CHART#3: STOCK MARKET ANALOGY: VOLATILITY WITH LONG TERM GAINS

Ronald "Sonny" Faulseit | Pierce College - Academia.edu

Faulseit, Ronald K., ed. Beyond collapse: Archaeological perspectives on resilience, revitalization, and transformation in complex societies.

Civilization® VI – The Official Site | News | ANNOUNCING CIVILIZATION VI:  RISE AND FALL

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