Peak Human Civilisation


#1

G’day,

I’ve long been more than a little rabid fan of the Post Apocalyptic movie/tv show genre, and growing up in the 80’s, there was plenty to feed my fever. The Day After, Damnation Alley, Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who: The Mysterious Planet - just whet the appetite for this bleak vision of the future.

What I’ve always believed however - what I’ve expected to be the human race’s destiny - was the realisation of many visions from my other major passion - Sci-fi - the departure of humans from planet Earth, with our story to date simply serving as a prologue to our amazing adventures that are yet to come.

I’ve recently been watching S2 of another sci-fi show that I recently discovered in this Peak-Freeview-TV era (yay Netflix) - The 100 - (spoiler alert!) in which humanity near wiped itself out after creating an AI that decided there were “too many humans” and thus ignited nuclear Armageddon.

This then inspired a rather nasty thought (especially given my recent apparent adoration for the “Peak-” phrase):

What if we have already passed the point of “Peak Human Civilisation”?

We live on a massively over populated world.
We are consuming the planet’s resources at an unsustainable rate.
We are causing irrevocable damage to the environment.

Have we already gone beyond the point at which our civilisation can continue to expand and flourish?

Google tells me I’m not alone in this thought. Indeed, it pointed me to another great (yes, great dammit) franchise - The Matrix - which gave us the timeframe for this very hypothesis - the 1990’s was the peak of our civilisation.

Agent Smith - The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this [ie 1999], the peak of your civilization.

It’s a bleak consideration that our existence as the only (known to ourselves) self aware organism in the Universe has had its day. To accept that the literary visions I’ve grown up enjoying as light entertainment could in fact be portrayals of a very real future for our species. Rather makes the point of buttering one’s toast in the morning seem rather futile.

There are, as I see it, two possible muddy hopes one can hold on to.

Perhaps the journey backward to labour intensive lives - spending more time simply making our daily meals than pondering the wonders of the Universe - will not in fact mark the end of our civilisation, but merely (as the Doctor once said), “just a pause”. Perhaps we are headed for some form of intense population drop, but that may allow the planet to regenerate, and the human race to choose better pathways toward those illustrious futures of which many of us have drempt.

Alternatively - and let’s hope ultimately more realistically - we may manage to use our biggest asset - our clever little brains - to overcome the issues that we are currently facing, and avoid not only the liability of the scarce resources available to us, but also the negative aspects of our own nature that may lead toward global conflict and population decimation.

Cheers

cosmic

I know I’ve pontificated previously about some of these issues, though not from this more absolute viewpoint, and I appreciate having this space provided by our AppleTalk Overlords in which to do so.
The comments are made in the spirit of keeping my alleged intellect alive, engaging debate, and, well, cos I like stringing words together…
:slight_smile:


#2

I suspect that the ‘best possible alternative’ (and I’m not real hopeful even for that) is a gradual decline in population and an increasing use of localized products and solar/wind/tidal/geothermal power and zero emission transport. That would allow a stable, low energy civilization possibly for a long time but one lacking the ability to spend concentrated energy upon space resources.

Anything else is going to vary from run away climate change causing mass depopulation, widespread war over scarce resources to nuclear war.

I can’t see a good way out of this, we missed our chance at space based resources topping up earth by leaving our run too late.


#3

<devil’s advocate> A more dismal view might be that we need to have wars in order to deplete the population through killing off the young men and women who would otherwise procreate. We also need to have droughts, starvation, dying children in third world countries. Without these, we will have a runaway population explosion and a dead planet. Not in our lifetimes, but our grandchildren will likely see the results of making peace and constantly saving the children.</devil’s advocate>

When God (if he exists) said go forth and multiply… he didn’t mean kill the planet.


#4

Voltaire once said,

If god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.

(A quote I learned from Doctor Who, and oft recite in my head in numerous circumstances…)

Yes, @kyte - I think your devil has a great many points… And that certainly falls into the lesser hopeful category for the future. We may need a calamity in order to move forward, with the planet’s resources better spread over a smaller population… :frowning: Honestly, that’s how I most likely see things travelling - if there is a future.


#5

I think the biggest problem is man’s insistence on fucking about with mother nature. You bite her, she bites back, twice as hard.


#6

Which of course is why all you snowflakes live in cities, to be as far removed from nature, tooth and claw as possible.

I suspect that the ‘best possible alternative’ (and I’m not real hopeful even for that) is a gradual decline in population and an increasing use of localized products and solar/wind/tidal/geothermal power and zero emission transport. That would allow a stable, low energy civilization possibly for a long time but one lacking the ability to spend concentrated energy upon space resources

Na. That amount of energy won’t run a modern civilisation. That is what shits me about AGW enthusiasts, if they were serious we would have nukes powering every city. Instead it is all about cottage industry power. With vast subsidy farming by our betters of course.


#7

No it won’t, it would require a population drop to maybe 500 million people and a return to a primarily agrarian existence with small pockets of high tech.

That’s why I’m not convinced it can happen because getting the population down to that level is almost certainly going to be destructive.