|Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
From time to time I go back and read about earlier civilizations that declined and collapsed, trying to understand the reasons for their demise. More often than not shrinking food supplies were responsible. For the Sumerians, rising salt levels in the soil—the result of a flaw in their irrigation system—brought down wheat and barley yields and eventually the civilization itself.
For the Mayans, soil erosion exacerbated by a series of intense droughts apparently undermined their food supply and their civilization. For other early civilizations that collapsed, it was often soil erosion and the resulting shrinkage in harvests that led to their decline.2 Does our civilization face a similar fate? Until recently it did not seem possible. I resisted the idea that food shortages could also bring down our early twenty-first-century global civilization. But our continuing failure to reverse the environmental trends that are undermining the world food economy forces me to conclude that if we continue with business as usual such a collapse is not only possible but likely