If the United States wants to avoid falling like the Roman Empire, it must avoid “overconsumption” and distribute resources equally, according to a study funded by NASA.
“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent,” reads the NASA-funded report published in the Ecological Economics journal.
“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” the study adds. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”
The NASA study uses a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula “to provide a general framework that allows carrying out ‘thought experiments’ for the phenomenon of collapse and to test changes that would avoid it.” In other words, the model only takes into account general characteristics of fallen civilizations, and not the specifics.
What did the study find? That collapse is hard to avoid in unequal societies as “[e]lites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”
Limits on resources harm the working class, while the wealthy are largely insulated from the problem, meaning resources continue to be used without regard to the cost to society. For example, “an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency technology tends to enable increased per capita vehicle miles driven, heavier cars, and higher average speeds, which then negate the gains from the increased fuel-efficiency.”
The only way to avoid calamity is to adopt egalitarian methods of resource distribution if resource consumption is limited and distributed equally — eerily reminiscent of those who champion population control or communism.
“Collapse can be avoided, and population can reach a steady state at the maximum carrying capacity, if the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed equitably,” according to the report.
Arguments made in this report are similar to those made by White House science czar John Holdren, who has suggested that government should limit the size of the population in order to keep the Earth from becoming unlivable.
Holdren used to collaborate with fellow scholar Paul Ehrlich, who wrote the controversial 1968 book “The Population Bomb.” One such collaboration resulted in a textbook passage that argued that coercive population control methods could be permissible under the U.S. Constitution.
“Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society,” Holdren and Ehrlich wrote. “Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.”
Communist countries have also tried to limit population growth while distributing resources equitably. Most notably, the Chinese government had a one child per family policy to rein in population growth. The program was enforced through birth certificates, mass sterilizations and forced abortions. The New York Times reported that 336 million forced abortions and 222 million sterilizations have been carried out since 1971.
This is on top of the unknown number of baby girls that have been killed or left to die under China’s one child policy and the estimated 60 million people killed under the regime of brutal communist dictator Mao Zedong.
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