TEOTWAWKI Theater: Our Collapsible Civilization

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed explains it all:

Dr. Ahmed’s latest at the Guardian:

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution (my bold).

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”


These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with “Elites” based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both.

The viddy interests me not just for the content but because it is an example of a new, Internet-generated genre, the remix documentary: Talking head or heads combined with found film clips and/or animation and/or what have you.  The remix documentary strikes me as a potentially fertile cross between the sort of presentations made at TED and the remix music viddies that populate YouTube in their teeming multitudes. Most are made for and posted online. Crisis of Civilization is slightly unusual in that it is feature length (77 minutes),  at least theoretically released  as a feature film, and is currently making the rounds of the film festival circuit.



3 responses to “TEOTWAWKI Theater: Our Collapsible Civilization

  1. Dr. Ahmed is no relation to Dr. Omed; and don’t forget, Dr. Omed is not a doctor.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, and I agree that it’s a great example of a remix documentary.

  3. Too tired last night to post my reaction: It was really refreshing to hear this emphasis on the disastrous nature of the growth ideology, something that’s kind of obvious, but which environmentalists stateside have moved away from critiquing over the last two decades. I agreed with most of his points. The main thing that I think was missing was any consideration of the global extinction crisis, to which climate change is but one contributing factor. Perhaps he talks about this in his book. The point being that loss or radical simplification of ecosystems will make many biosphere functions less resilient and more vulnerable to wild fluctuations, to say nothing of the cultural and psychological impacts of the loss of nonhuman others on a massive scale.

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