March 17, 2014 – In today’s UK Huffington Post the following headline appears – Civilisation Is Doomed Warns Safa Motesharri’s Nasa-Funded Study. The author is mathematician, Safa Motesharri, who applies what is described as a “highly simplified model” to predict the future path of modern industrial society. This model, called the Human and Nature DYnamical (HANDY) purportedly looks at population, climate change, freshwater, agriculture, energy and other factors to predict the outcome of our civilization.
We are doomed just like the Roman Empire, the Han of China, the Harappa of the Indus River, the Anasazi of the American southwest, the Mauryan and Gupta Empires and so many more. The conclusions are drawn from current over consumption, limited carrying capacity of the planet, increased socioeconomic stratification and many other factors.
What’s very interesting is I have yet to actually find the original paper supposedly published in the journal, Ecological Economics. Yet I have found lots of media outlets like the Huffington Post, and numerous bloggers writing about it.
I haven’t found any NASA reference to the HANDY model upon which the study is based. Nor have I found any reference to the author either at the Goddard Space Flight Center, supposedly a sponsor, or at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center associated with the author.
I am certain that there are many mathematical models in existence that produce a Malthusian forecast for our civilization. But what disturbs me about this most recent headline is how quickly information has received widespread coverage. Check the links on all the sites that have reported the story and not one goes to the source document from which the information is supposedly derived.
Now there is enough valid science out there pointing to the human requirement to address climate change without invention. So all I ask is if I’m wrong then set me straight. I’ve written the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center to confirm if Mr. Motesharri actually exists. A Google search to find him comes up empty. I have also written to Elsevier, publishers of Ecological Economics to see if indeed they have published a paper authored by Mr. Motesharri whose name doesn’t come up when you search their site. I’ll let you know what I discover but in the meantime if any of you are sleuths and want to do your own digging, please let me know the results.
An Addendum to this posting:
One of my readers, Tim Eaton, has kindly forwarded the link to the paper authored by Safa Motesharri, Jorge Rivas and Eugenia Kalnay.
The HANDY model is well described based on an enhanced version of the predator-prey, feast and famine cyclical model we can document in the world of nature.
Total population is divided into the masses and elites.
Natural resources are nonrenewable, regenerative,and continuously renewable.Technological advances are factored into the model as well. Even accumulated wealth is considered.
Applying all these variables the model comes up with a sustainable equilibrium for the carrying capacity of the planet. The results that most reflect our existing world are defined as those from an unequal society in which elites consume too much (think the Developed World) and commoners (the Developing World) are unable to sustain their societies.
In this model “business as usual” occurs among the elite despite impending catastrophe. It is this scenario that is used to explain the collapse of past civilizations and seen as a forecast for our own to decline at some point in the future.