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Collapse of Modern Society?

Posted by on February 7, 2014

These past few discussion in class on the collapse of complex societies really made me look at the realities that face our present day world. There has been a lot of blame of technology, and people saying we are too dependent on it. Some people even think that without it, our modern world would collapse almost immediately, and go into an almost apocalyptic state as described in this article towards the end. While I think this is a bit of an exaggeration, I definitely think that society should use this technology to learn as much as possible about the environment in order to protect it and ourselves.

Although the advancements of the modern era definitely surpass civilizations such as the Maya, we still have the same environmental and economical problems, just on a much larger scale. What we’ve done with technology and science is amazing, but in the hands of the wrong people it can be disastrous, such as our discussion and readings on the Aral Sea.

This is an 18 minute video so fair warning..I watched all of it because apparently that’s what I do with my time but you certainly don’t have to! If you want to watch any of it, I’d recommend 2:00-4:00 but I’m going to sum it up here anyway. Basically this is a really interesting talk from TED about a few years back and deals with ways to avoid human development overpowering the planet. One of my favorite points of the speaker, Rockstrom,  was the ‘surprise factor’ we are putting on Earth. This simply means that we have to stop viewing the ecosystems and environment as controllable entities, and can’t predict how we think they’ll react to change. Since we now have the science, it only seems logical that we have the responsibility to learn as much about our planet as we can, to avoid disasters like ecocide and loss of biodiversity. In doing so, we can be better prepared to solve global problems while maintaining a sustainable future.

Claire

5 Responses to Collapse of Modern Society?

  1. cmccartney

    I’m so glad there are fellow TED talk watchers out there! I really like the fact that this reliance on technology is being addressed in other classes, its really important to address the issues that our generation will have to deal with. We are characterized with having a dependance on technology and it could mean all the difference in the world if we learn to develop technology to go along with the needs of the planet.

  2. hgibson

    We really must walk a fine line to balance how much we depend on technology versus using technology in a way that will help us learn more about the environment and develop new strategies to combat the destruction of it. As we learned, the Maya collapsed despite their innovation and advancements. We must take this a warning to ourselves that environmental problems can and will occur, despite the technological advances a society makes, when we overuse and abuse natural renewable and nonrenewable resources.
    I love the way the TED talk video starts out! He addresses the problems we face globally but as Hannah K. also states he maintains a positive attitude, noting that the old way of doing things won’t work out and new ideas and innovations are necessary to figure out how to solve the problems we face. I think its easy in a class like this to become frustrated and hopeless about our world situation, but if we are able to look towards the positive and hopeful instead of dwelling on the negative we are more likely to find solutions.

  3. Dr. Szulczewski

    I love that you brought up this idea. Many resilience thinkers, as we’ll see, don’t think we’ll find a sustainable solution until we realize we must give up *control* of nature (or our illusion of control).

  4. Colleen

    I love the video! I love TED Talks too! Ever since I got a Netflix account, that’s pretty much all I watch.
    I find it interesting some people blame technology and how some do not. In my Sociology class, I learned about a group of people who believed that technology was our solution to all of our problems. But then there are people who want to go completely away from technology and back to a simpler time. I think that the solution is somewhere in between.

  5. Hannah Kincaid

    First, I just want to say that I love TED talks! In my Geography and Development class we watched a bunch of them and they were always so interesting! This one is no exception. What I love about the speaker is that despite all the depressing facts he is sharing, he manages to keep a positive attitude. So instead of shocking and terrifying his audience, he informs and enlightens them. At the beginning of the video he talks about the “Quadruple Squeeze” on planet earth which includes four factors–climate change, human population growth, ecosystem loss (60%), and surprise. Most of these sound very familiar as they are the same issues we have been discussing in class so far, but I found it ironic that he included surprise. In class we have been learning about multiple different collapses of ancient civilizations and the response is always that we need to learn from our past mistakes. Yet we don’t because we still have the same issues today in the world. But because of our advancement we have not collapsed as they did. Surprise should not be one of the four factors. We should no what to expect. We have the benefit of societal history and books like Diamond’s “Collapse” to educate us on what not to do. I believe that if we are able to limit surprise as a factor and educate ourselves then all the others will go away too.

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