Monday, November 28, 2016

guest article, article 1 of 2 today


If you don’t know the “Limits To Growth” hypothesis you should perhaps first get acquainted to it, either through the Wikipedia article ( ) or through this shorter article ( ). We will use the graph of the latter in this discussion :

There are several things to note in this graph :

A : The mathematical model itself has been validated : the data accumulated between 1970 and 2000 closely matches the calculations.

B : According to this model we have about thirteen to thirteen years left before the “economic collapse” happens.

Dennis Meadows himself declared that his model was only valid until the plateau phase, because what happens after that would be impossible to predict or modelize. While that may be true, we’re also talking about somebody who released a massive bomb back in its day, which set a massive change in policy in motion and movies with Charlton Heston (imagine that !). So it is just as well highly probable that Dennis Meadows is being “very considerate” or “very cautious” or “very polite”, all of it translating into : he doesn’t tell us the whole truth.

The truth being that after the plateau phase the collapse is brutal. Some of you may have heard of “The Seneca Effect” ( ) which is BTW somewhat validated by studies on the Mayan Classic Collapse ( )

However, in the Meadows graph itself, we can see two such cliffs : observe the “Services per capita” curve and the “Food per capita curve”. Both drop sharply in a few year’s hence from now, whereas all other curves don’t show sharp turns.

These two indicators might very well be the only “advanced warning” signals we might get. This coincides eerily with Donald Trump being perfect to slash jobs, especially Mc Jobs, which are especially critical in the USA, all at the same time when automated replacements are being rolled out. ( )

The probable next French president announced this week that he intends not to renew 500,000 civil servant jobs in France (out of 5 million) that will disappear due to retirement. Also, now on a more personal level, people I know in the French health sector tell me that a lot of hospitals are going to be closed and also numbers of beds in the remaining units are going to be slashed, among other causes because of a shortage of medical personnel and doctors. As a midschool teacher myself, I can attest that there are not enough teachers as it is, with steadily decreasing quality as well, and that they are considering a stark reduction of capacities in this sector as well. As for the police, they’re chronically understaffed, overworked and never recruiting enough for replacement.

 I think we can consider that this indicates a sharp evolution in the amount of services per capita, at least in France. If we can establish that this is happening in other places in the developed world as well then we have basically another validation of Meadows’ model for the “Services per capita” curve, which is actually the only one we can really monitor by ourselves. Also take note that we should watch these evolutions primarily in developed countries, because this is where there is still something to monitor. Poor and emerging economies are chronically underperforming and underserviced anyway – that said, I think we can see India’s current monetary disaster as a massive decrease in services per capita there, since money is a service.

As for myself, if I witness a sharp drop in services per capita (as of today these are very short-term predictions but predictions nonetheless), I will consider that the “Economic Collapse” will be about ten years ahead.

Some people might argue that Meadows couldn’t take the technological evolutions into account, and thus the curves might behave differently. Well in the “Limits of Growth” it is primarily about resources, not Facebook, and the technologies around food didn’t evolve that much, nor will they in a foreseeable future. The automation of Mc Jobs simply means that “useless eaters” are now even more useless, actually accelerating discrepancies in food & resources allocation.



  1. Wonderful.
    In spite of everything, we're still all gonna die anyway, in about 10 years or so, and there's nothing we can do about it.
    Except some how create and environment for yourself, and possible for select others, that is not connected in any way with everybody else, ever.

    The Omega Man indeed.

    1. The reason to stockpile is not to try to survive, but to be ready in case you survive despite all the odds.

  2. 10 years of accelerating destruction of the economy and environment seems almost impossible to us today to visualize. But look at 1970 to 2005 - the downward trends during that time is obvious in retrospect, but due to the occasional plateau and upward counter trends (such as in the fields of IT and Bio-sciences) most people were able to fool themselves into believing a better future could still occur in their lifetimes.
    Can people continue to fool themselves even as the various peaks pass the collapse accelerates? Oddly enough the evidence suggests that, yes, people will adjust their interpretation 'normal' and 'recovery' after every step down to mostly fit the new circumstances. Even though the truth will be that the former normal will never again be reached in their lifetime (or their grandkids)...

    1. Almost two generations later and we still think glittery unicorn farts are just right around the corner!