Society Could Collapse Starting With Pollution And Climate Change

The Earth has only so many resources that can be mined, crafted, fused, recycled etc.

Some day, we will deplete all of our resources. And even with the best intentions from government’s around the globe; there’s nothing that can prevent that inevitably.

Wars will be waged for fresh water and other resources.

At least, that’s what some foresee in an apocalyptic future.

While there have been thousands of predictions about how the end of the world could come about — we should be thinking about human civilization collapse in terms of sequences.

The MIT Study

The system dynamics model, published by the Club of Rome, shows comprehensive data about the limits to growth or LTG.

MIT’s 1972 prediction was given new life thanks to the efforts of the director of Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler KPMG Gaya Herrington who made it a personal project.

Herrington wanted to understand the MIT prediction over time. His incarnation, “Updates to limits to growth: Comparing the World3 model with empirical data” was published in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology.

The model examined the industrial projection of global civilization which points towards a failing economic growth within the approaching decades (2040s).

Essentially, in our current state, we will have to impose limits on pretty much everything; this will have a cascading effect and would bring our production in other areas to the system to a standstill. Things like fossil fuels; as well as other elements like helium, water, and rare earth metals could have limits imposed on it.

It should be noted that there is no set date for this to happen. Similar to the Doomsday Clock, there’s no guarantee nor is there an expiration date for humans.

The ocean

It’s an understatement to say humans abused non-renewable resources thanks to industrialization.

But if that wasn’t enough; we’ve most likely polluted the planet beyond repair and that includes the ocean. As massive as it is, pollution can be devastating to coral reefs and other marine life.

Plastics, for example, may or not persist for centuries as recently suspected.

However, there are micro-plastics turning up in fish and there’s no telling what it can do in the human body.

There’s tons of discarded materials, garbage, sewage, and toxic and nuclear waste that don’t just vanish into an abyss; it ends up somewhere in the ocean. They sometimes even come back ashore or end up as a garbage patch.

CO2 and methane

Humans released an estimated 33.1 billion metric tons of C02 in 2019.

Just recently, global carbon emissions were linked to the death of at least a billion animals such a mussels, clams, sea stars and snails which were cooked alive due to a record-breaking heat wave.

Methane could also become a worrying issue.

Malfunctioning equipment, oil and gas production, and even cows are culprits for leaking methane.

But that’s just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.

Within the next few decades, which may or may not happen to be in the 2040s — melted permafrost could release tons of methane into the atmosphere. It’s an overlooked issue which will possibly affect us more so than carbon emissions with also the possibility of releasing superbugs.

That idea that an infectious disease could be awaiting for us in ice is unlikely — but it’s still a concern because we’ve got no idea what it could due to terrestrial life.

Aside from that, the rising sea level will put major cities underwater such as Miami and New Orleans.

There will be nothing that can stop this and if a large system of ocean currents including the Gulf Stream shuts down not only will it compound that problem but it can bring many other catastrophic effects including harsher winters and scorching summers.

The increased CO2 and methane as well as pollution could create toxic environments to many terrestrial life in oceans, rivers and ponds — delivering a fate to the ecosystems beyond repair; fish and other life crucial in our biosphere could cease to exist.

The wet-bulb temperature

To understand the wet-bulb temperature — we’ll start with terms you’ve heard of on the news.

The heat index is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature e.g. what it feels like.

In the summer, when it’s hot outside, your body sweats which in turns cools you down. And we as humans hopefully keep fluids to stay hydrated to replenish lost fluids.

You’re able to sustain yourself for a certain period of time with the right amount of fluids and breaks from physical activities.

It can be uncomfortable for long stretches, for sure, but it’s all possible thanks to your body being able to sweat.

32 °C (90 °F) is the theoretical limit even heat-adapted people can survive, and if the relative humidity is at 100% — therein lies the problem.

In those conditions, the air around your body will no longer be able to absorb any water meaning that the sweat from your body won’t be absorbed into the air. And thus, you won’t cool down leading to a heat stroke as your sweating mechanism fails.

But fear not, this will probably be only limited to tropical reasons and other areas where humans do not live.

Still, the prospect of such an occurrence becoming much more frequent should still bother us.

As a society: we’re also committing deforestation, overfishing, and we’re contributing to the extinction of species.

As resources dwindle and the planet gets filled with more carbon, animals important to the food chain could die out.

It feels helpless but we can do our part by reframing from discarding things like batteries, plastics, and old phones and send them to appropriate facilities. Nuclear power could be the best alternative and not certainly a permanent solution to humanity’s problems.

But we might be doomed if we can’t solve these issues.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store