David Eagleman, “Six Easy Steps to Avert the Collapse of Civilization”

Posted on Monday, April 5th, 02010 by Stewart Brand
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David Eagleman

Averting Collapse

Civilizations always think they’re immortal, Eagleman noted, but they nearly always perish, leaving “nothing but runes and scattered genetics.” It takes luck and new technology to survive. We may be particularly lucky to have Internet technology to help manage the six requirements of a durable civilization:

1. “Try not to cough on one another.” More humans have died from epidemics…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

  • vanderleun

    “The USSR’s collapse was made inevitable by state-controlled media and state-mandated mistakes such as Lysenkoism”

    And… and…. ? Bueller?

  • Dear David Eagleman and Stewart Brand,

    Thanks for your authenticity and many sagacious comments. Perhaps much of the world in which we live has gone utterly mad. Whatsoever is politically correct, economically expedient, socially convenient and culturally prescribed appears to be automatically espoused loudly as “the truth”. Ideological idiocy prevails over science. Greed rules this world. Intellectual honesty, personal accountability, moral courage and doing the right thing are rarely expressed.

    As a consequence, the human community appears to be inadvertently making a colossal mess of our planetary home, Earth. Everyone can see what is happening but few people are willing to speak out about what they can observe occurring around us. Billions of people are recklessly engaged in per-capita overconsumption and scandalous hoarding of resources; in megabillion-dollar pyramid schemes and unsustainable large-scale industrial enterprises; and in overpopulating the planet.

    Let me give you an example of what I mean. What happens if it turns out that human population dynamics are common to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species? What does that mean? From my humble inexpert perspective, it means increasing production of food the world over equals increasing numbers of human organisms worldwide; less available food for consumption equals less humans; and no food equals no people. Just that simple.

    Gentlemen, imagine our failure to acknowledge that human population dynamics is essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species as the greatest misperception in human history because this failure could eventually result in a global ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort. In such circumstances would experts not have a duty to science and humanity that would lead them to correct so vital a mistaken impression of what could somehow be real? It appears to me that many too many experts have willfully rejected the best available science of human population dynamics by ignoring certain evidence and chosen to let stand, as if scientific, preternatural thinking based upon specious understandings derived from inadequate ‘scientific’ investigations.

    Extant research of human population dynamics appears to directly contradict the near-universal misconception that humanity needs to increase in a seemingly endless way global food harvests in order to meet the needs of a growing population. The best available research indicates just the opposite: that, just like other species, the size and availability of the human food supply is the independent variable upon which the global human population depends for existence.

    Please note, too, that this relationship cannot be conveniently passed over as a “chicken and egg” situation. That appears to be one of the ways many people have found to miss the point of the science. Because an adequate enough understanding of the relationship between food supply and its effect on human numbers could have profound implications for the future of life as we know it on Earth, perhaps this relationship could be made the subject of authentic communication.

    Thanks again to you and the Long Now community for speaking out.



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