Journalists now appear to want to outdo each other in stupidity when it comes to re-hashing Nafeez Ahmed’s silly report about a Nasa-funded study predicting an “imminent collapse” of civilization. The prize so far goes to Tristin Hopper of the National Post. Here is his opening paragraph:
‘After running the numbers on a set of four equations representing human society, a team of NASA-funded mathematicians has come to the grim conclusion that the utter collapse of human civilization will be “difficult to avoid.”’
Yes, they modelled all of humanity with only four equations, and you decided the study was worth reporting on. Evidence certainly that the profession of journalism is facing imminent collapse.
It should be pointed out of course that the study itself does not appear to have actually concluded that civilizational collapse will be “difficult to avoid.” (I say “does not appear” here because so far the final version of this paper has not appeared anywhere).
In fact it as a highly theoretical model, which actually makes no effort whatsoever to predict what will happen in the future. It’s applicability to current human civilization is made clear by it only modelling renewable resources. We live in a world fundamentally reliant on non-renewable resources. Just imagine if you yanked steel or concrete from it. The whole edifice would collapse.
So any model like this will be an incredibly unreliable predictor of the future course of human civilization. This however will not stop those with agendas, or those seeking a cheap headline, from reporting the paper as such.