26 April 2008
Complexity as discussed by Jared Diamond in “Collapse” refers
The problem is not complexity , but reserves .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Infinite Probes"
This calculates the optimum reserves for internal chaotic events as between 27% and 37% , depending .
Globalization forces reserves below 27% . Like now .
The societal response is contraction , followed by war . The first WW is a good example .
Humans will adapt .
The things to watch out for are unrestricted bio-nuke wars .
Humans have evolved several institutions to deal with societal collapse .(Ie organised religions).
If the external insult is far outside the 38% range , the species goes extinct .
Concerns by LC :
I am not so sure that humans will/can always adapt… a lot of patterns of behaviour is hard wired into us. Witness the way the stock market behaves….yes we change our structures…like the new network model as illustrated in one of those articles…..but some had to give for that to happen…I am still of the opinion we will eventually reach breaking point in this civilization… fewer and fewer people will have the knowledge to understand and make a very complex world continue..
Also a lot of what they say in those articles appears to be happening in the very systems we have here at work. They are getting to breaking point and it is taking forever to change them/add new functionality.
Not all humans adapt… there are those who are still stuck in a 70/80’s paradigm of system development….
Over all the human race will adapt…but only the fast learners…
I don’t think the human race will ever go extinct (unless of we get nuked by man man bombs or a natural disaster such as supanova explosion etc etc)…but I certainly think social structures can collapse… wait until there are just on 10billion people in the world!
PS. I prefer my females a little but thinner..
The Concept of Reserves .
See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Infinite Probes"
What reserves buy is time .
Time to fix the problems .
Of course civilizations reach breakpoints . The last century had three major breakpoints :
W W I (the destruction of aristocracies) , W W II (the destruction of fascism , which can be seen as nascent aristocracies forming in the vacuum left by WWI) and the Collapse of Communism (W W III) . Another viewpoint is that fascism and communism were both fall-back positions to earlier paradigms , but could not compete against capitalism .
The present world position might appear superficially as a victory for the capitalist camp , but in real fact the two major power blocks (EU , China) are an amalgam of socialist and capitalist systems . Even the US has major socialist elements , and is having serious problems with its unregulated capitalist components .(Cf Enron)
Complicating things are the JIT (Just In Time) camp .
"Time is Money" is a concept not in the ancient lexicons . There were no time-and-motion studies on building Stonehenge or the Pyramids . The very question is meaningless .It took as long as it took .
"Time is Money" derives from the circular velocity of money . Institutions takes a cut everytime a buck passes . In ancient societies the buck only passed once . It then vanished into a value sink (the Royal Coffers usually , or simply buried) . They were well aware of the dangers of a middle class .Note previous posts on treasure burial (not meant to be recovered) in Ancient Egypt . China allowed merchants only on the class slightly above warriors .The currency was very tightly controlled .The idea was not to maximise the slice of each transaction , but to stabilise the society .
The price was stagnation of innovation .
The aristocracy's major function was to regulate long-term things (hence Senate or House of Lords) . The loss of aristocracy must be the most deletrious effect of W W I . Short term gain then gets control of societies assets . Populists and liars have a heyday .
Historically this has happened over and over . The systems have learned to a certain extent . Organised religions are systems regulating long-term things . (Nothing gets longer term than death) Hence the influence of the Roman Catholic Church , Islam , Buddhism ,etc . These systems have evolved to carry over civilization after a catastrophic collapse .
What has this to do with today?
Short-term concentration on profits has led to a massive run-down of society's reserves . Food reserves , maintenance of infrastructure (which a form of wealth) , zero-sum hedging (which is plundering future wealth) , bubbles here and bubbles there .Like a bunch of children playing in a soap-bath and crying to adults to fix it when the water dries out .
Will populations decrease drastically ?
Almost certainly yes . Probability 85%
It is happening as we speak . The food riots have been long predicted . These are not from systemic problems . The world has simply run out of enough food to supply everybody , especially those making no effort to control their numbers or to do even subsistence farming .
The children have been fed only on sweets , and now is stomach ache time .
You see, if there are sufficient reserves , when if the system breaks down due to over-complexification , there is sufficient time to reconfigure the system . Humans are very good at emergency systems if they can survive long enough .
What is happening now is a perfect storm scenario . Nations that export food (like Vietnam to Filipines) are putting panic export bans in place . They are not sure of getting paid , because of the global credit limitations caused by futures market activities .
This is reminiscent of the Great Depression , when exports came to halt for the same reason . If trade ceases , millions will starve . Literally . I have discussed this ad nauseam before . The overpopulation belts (Africa , Middle East , India , Indonesia , Filipines , Mexico , South America - mostly Roman Catholic or Islamic countries which have not made the least effort to curb their population growth .)
Pockets of survivors form in various countries .
Why do I rate the probabilty of drastic population decrease as only 85% ? The Club of Rome and other interested organizations would rate it at 99.9% .
Because the horse might learn to sing .
Because of the unsung heroes who keep the civilization going . The guys at NSA who prevented nuclear war in 1991 . The teachers and healers . The best of the species , who are actually the majority . Things could be much , much worse . You would not believe the time-lines that hive off after 1815 .
But , mainly because humans are lucky . Lucky to survive the leopards . Lucky to survive the other homonins . Lucky to survive Toba . Lucky to survive the various plagues . Especially lucky with the 1918 flu epidemic , a real show-stopper . By rights , it should have exterminated humans . A cynic might say that God is looking after them.
That's the good news . The bad news is 90% extermination levels are acceptable . But , hey , remember , the human mortality rate is 100 % . 6 billion alive now , 6 billion dead in a few years . What counts is the gene and meme transmissions to give the illusion of meaning to the flickering lives .
Humans are social animals , defining themselves by the herd .Hence solitary confinement is considered a harsh punishment . But many humans (hermits , mountainmen ) fancy a lonely life . Yet the knowledge of the species outside remains . How many could maintain their sang-freud if they were the last and only of the species ? This question has been answered on a large scale : This is the Norse religion , where Gotterdammerung awaits and everybody ceases to exist .
In one of those delicious human ironies , one would expect them to be extremely short-term in outlook . But in real life , they thought in terms of lineages and dynasties . The conservation of game and forests in England was due to this outlook , compared to the Roman exploitation in Gaul . If this was the only real life , your influence can only be felt through your descendants . A Christian or Buddhist would try to buy his way into heaven by actions . A Norman only hoped to give his descendants an easier life . They had no salvation . No wonder the Christians won . But they kept the conservation principles .
Would you keep on fighting , even knowing for certain that you will lose ? Keep on when there is no hope ?
Even if you are the last of your species in some alien zoo ? and no belief in afterlife?
Can humans have a balanced ecology ?
We know this because it has been done very successfully on at least three occasions:
1.Egypt .For about 3 000 years the narrow strip around the Nile has nurtured a civilization that gave us the alfabet and the compund bow , plus other goodies . Hi-tech.
2.Holland : Population remained stable during collapse of the Western Roman Empire . Nobody messed with them either (the Huns steered well south .) Masters of the Knights and Castles defence . Even 1000 years later the super-power of the time (Spain) , powered by literally thousands of tons of gold and silver , could not reduce them .
3. Let us not forget China . They have been farming the same strips for at least 3 000 years . Even an immediate collapse will still leave some survivors . That is if the major rivers are not poisened by radioactive pollution .
Others like Papua-NewGuinea and some obscure islands have been nominated . But they survived by contraction , not what we would call a worthhile existence .
Females and fat : the generally accepted range for healthy female aged 20-59 is 21%-34% . The reason is that woman are at the choke point of human reproduction . Human males of the same age are 8%-22% . But of course , males are throw-away . The evolutionary choke-point are the females . And every extra erg helps .
Zaftig wins as far as reproduction goes .
An interesting note here is the "giow" of an expectant mother . This is actually a symptom of sulfur deficiency . The body extracts sulfur from the skin and hair to construct the cells of the foetus . The skin gets thinner and seems to be translucent(glowing) . The same effect is seen in TB , to construct lung tissue coughed up . All that material does not come from nowhere , you know . If somneone has TB , pump in large amounts biologically active sulfur compounds . The body can usually repair itself if it has the raw materials . else it deserves to die .
There is a double whammy if the female then is exposed to UVB (sunlight) . The skin is too thin to prevent folic acid breakdown . The result is spontaneous abortion as foetus abnormalities trigger rejection mechanisms. The answer is to stay out of the sun . Even taking MSM or Folic Acid supplements are not sufficient .
Why ? Because even minor fluctuations of folic acid below the right level results in in spontaneous abortions . Hence all the kappies . For women without artificial protection (read native blacks) , the skin pigmentation gave some protection but it was still part of the eco-system's protection mechanism preventing runaway population growth of a too-successful organism .
Bah . Sometimes evolution can be quite depressing .