updated - September 20, 2020 Sunday EDT
A NASA-funded study has concluded that modern civilization will collapse within the next few decades due to economic instability and the abuse of natural resources.
Safa Motesharrai, applied mathematician, led the study and worked with natural and social scientists to use the 'Human And Nature Dynamical" (HANDY) model to study the fall of advanced civilizations of the past, according to the Guardian.
The HANDY project found that throughout history, even complex civilizations have collapsed, which puts the sustainability of modern society into question, the Guardian reported.
"The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent," the study said.
Motesharri wrote in the study, "The process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history."
Motesharri investigated the factors that could lead to the fall of civilization, which included population growth and climate change, the New Zealand Herald reported. He found that when such issues interact, they can cause the breakdown of society through the "stretching of resources" and "the economic stratification of society into 'Elites' and 'Masses'."
Using different scenarios, Motesharri and his fellow researchers found that collapse is difficult to avoid under the current conditions. In these scenarios, they discovered that elite wealth monopolies are affected much later by environmental collapse than common people, which allows them to continue their "business as usual" way of living despite the catastrophe, according to the Guardian.
However, the researchers stated that society can avoid collapse with the right policies and structural changes, which can also lead to the creation of a more stable and advanced society, the Guardian reported. The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality to make sure resources are distributed fairly, and to reduce the consumption of resources by relying less on limited resources and bringing down population growth. With these changes, the "business as usual" model can end and civilization can be saved and evolve.
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