An article, sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and first reported on in The Guardian several years ago, examined five key factors that led to the collapse of civilizations such as the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty in China: population, climate, water, agriculture, and energy.
The study found that civilizations collapse when these factors coalesce in such a way that natural resources are stretched at the same time the gap between the rich and the poor increases.
The upshot? Our end will not come because resources run low. Rather it will be hastened by a skewed distribution of those resources as a result of good old-fashioned greed.
Whether or not this study has any more validity than others of the sort will of course be a matter of opinion and born out with the passage of time.
But might it get us thinking, at least?
Regardless of which side of the aisle we’re on- whether we’re red-staters or blue-staters or somewhere in between- our Christian calling requires of us that we be not only mindful of inequality and injustice, but that we find ways to work toward eradicating these things.
Maybe this study only serves to reinforce something we already know but don’t like to admit: that wealth and power have a numbing, insulating effect on the heart, that lifestyles of wealth and power often enough will be fed and sustained at just about any and anyone’s expense.
The authors of this study suggest that the collapse of civilization as we know it might not be all that different from what happens in movies like “Blade Runner,” “Elysium,” and “The Hunger Games.” God help us.