Why do civilizations collapse in every era of Earth and what leads up to it?


We’ve never had the technology we have today. Disease and Health or lack of and Wealth or lack of, are the only 2 consistent factors imo that every civilization has had.
Curious what others think.

In: 0

NASA funded a study that suggests civilizations collapse due to environmental depletion and high wealth differential leasing to a disconnect between ruling elites and consequences of environmental collapse.

So basically the current situation. We are screwed.


There’s a number of possible reasons.

Natural disasters. This could result in famine, large loss of life, etc.

Invasion. Well, that’s obvious. Someone else destroys the civilisation.

Mass migration. Massive amounts of people move in. Basically an invasion but might not involve fighting, or large scale fighting.

Idiots in charge. You might have a flourishing civilisation and then an idiot, or successive idiots, are in charge, they make dumb decisions and this results in either fracturing, less powerful enemies moving in, etc, etc, etc.

Foreign decisions. If a civilisation requires foreign trade to survive (say food imports) and who they get food imports from stop selling it to them then they may collapse due large loss of life due to famine.

Destruction of the natural environment. There have been civilisations that have collapsed because they’ve destroyed their environment. There have been island civilisations that have cut down every tree on their island and then died out.

Disease. This one is rather obvious. Disease comes in and wipes out large amounts of people. The survivors may drift off elsewhere, not be able to resist invasion or mass immigration, or the survivors create a new civilisation.

Hedonism. I think except for natural disaster, pretty much every civilization that collapsed did so by diving into hedonism and become “too fat to survive”.

There’s a podcast called “Fall of Civilizations” which does episodes about exactly this. They collapse for different reasons, of course. Invasion by a superior military force is one obvious way to end a civilization, but internal troubles also happen.

This episode talks a little about the problems of empire, starting at this time link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfUT6LhBBYs&t=870s

But you might just want to watch all of them because they’re pretty good.

Technology won’t stop the cycle of empires. Math didn’t, iron didn’t, writing didn’t, the printing press didn’t, I don’t think the internet will. Basically, a society is formed by diverse groups unifying to survive in a harsh environment. Then the society gets more organized and makes the environment less harsh. Then, a generation later, the rulers who never suffered adversity rest on their laurels, ignorant to the suffering of the poor. The inequality of the haves and the have-nots creates social upheaval, and society is broken. The ability to stave off a harsh environment crumbles. Then, diverse groups unify to survive in the harsh environment, repeating the cycle.

I’d say we’re in the early social upheaval stage.

[Here’s a video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqvmMFJQtm0&list=PLDb22nlVXGgd1hCvsCeLZprHKDjp1dU43&index=10) about they guy who figured it out the pattern 600 years ago.

The larger and wealthier a civilization grows, the more fragile it becomes. At a most basic level, there are more people to feed, cities to sanitize, borders to guard, populace to police and diplomatic relations to maintain.

Essentially, the bigger a civilization grows, the more dominoes get added that can topple and affect everything else.

>We’ve never had the technology we have today.

That’s not necessarily a good thing. Today’s societies are very fragile with many dependencies and on top of that, they’re entirely unsustainable.

Right now, we’re in the middle of both a climate catastrophe and a mass extinction event. Both were caused by the wants of a tiny minority of humanity, the wealthy West representing some 20% of humanity total.

How that 20% lives is utterly unsustainable. It’s literally causing a global climate catastrophe while Earth’s biomass and biodiversity is imploding. But rather than facing the problem, people are kicking the can down the road. We’d rather keep living like we are than change our lifestyle.

At the same time, the remainder of humanity is slowly becoming more affluent and demanding the same unsustainable lifestyle.

Many previous civilizations fell when they constructed a lifestyle that they outgrew without adapting to their new reality.

We are doing no different and our technology makes no difference to a culture that willfully constructs a lifestyle that cannot be maintained.