A NASA-funded study claims that Western civilization is on the brink of a massive Roman Empire-style collapse due to the “economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”
Societies throughout history that have allowed this stratification to occur have always been destroyed, the study finds.
“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” reads the study. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”
In unequal societies, researchers said, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”
As limited resources and decreasing quality of life plague the working class, the Elites, insulated from the problem, “continue consuming unequally” and make the issue worse, the study said.
If this pattern sounds familiar, it is because we are living in the most unequal era in history in terms of wealth distribution. And the U.S. is the richest – and most unequal – country in the world. According to the NASA study formula, a collapse is overdue.
The Atlantic reports that the researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.
The study was sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and headed by the National Science Foundation’s Safa Motesharrei.
For those who think modern society is immune from the problems that brought down ancient civilizations, a “brief overview of collapses demonstrates not only the ubiquity of the phenomenon, but also the extent to which advanced, complex and powerful societies are susceptible to collapse,” the study said.
So how do we save ourselves? “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,” reads the report.