Posted by: Nicholas Davis | March 27, 2009


A scary but rising meme within the series of internet-tubes these days is that collapse is a more significant risk than most people think. The idea is that a combination of negative factors could serve to tip the world into a fast and furious negative spiral leading to a vastly different global environment than we have come to expect in developed countries. Evidence of this mood shift from Google Trends was highlighted on the LongNow blog a couple of days ago – worth a look.

As it happens, I’ve been speaking to a number of people like John L. Petersen and others over the last few months who firmly believe we need to be prepared for a severe downside scenario now more than ever. I don’t think this should be done in a way to scare anyone or destroy the recent up-tick in confidence we’ve seen on markets recently, but from a scenario perspective it is always useful to challenge ourselves by thinking through high-impact, barely-plausible events. Arguably, careful consideration of these kinds of events might be all that is needed to prevent some of them actually occurring.

John in particular has been gathering evidence of pressure building up in a number of global and national systems that could be triggered and lead to some fairly fundamental changes. His book A Vision for 2012 is an interesting collection of what might change and how.

While I’m not about to start hoarding petrol and canned goods, I can’t help but think that we should, across all of global society, think through some of the implications of a perfect storm of global state conflict, resource shortages and supply-chain interruption, pandemics and social upheaval. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before – it’s just that it was over 60 years ago now…


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