We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our way of living is already passing into history.

Collapse is the transition away from a globalized, hyperconnected and materially-abundant society, toward a state of greater precariousness, lesser abundance, potentially reaching a stage of existential risk for our species.

At the peak of the Seneca Cliff, the curve that describes the rapid phase transitions of complex systems on the basis of the principle that "growth is sluggish, but ruin is rapid." We see a green valley in the distance, but the road down the cliff is so steep and rough that it is hard to say whether we will survive the descent.

Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.
—Clay Shirky

Hope, while once a useful trait, is what has condemned us, because we literally cannot see the cliff as we dance off it. Instead of celebrating the failed audacity of hope, it might be prudent to contemplate, in the time we have left, the paucity of hope - because the most we can realistically hope for, trapped by forgone conclusions, is to vanquish fear and find the grace of acceptance.


Rate of Collapse

Rapid Collapse will happen rapidly on a global scale within a narrow timeframe. Lots of small local infrastructure failures, political instabilities, or extreme weather events will prevent a gradual transition.
Linear Collapse will occur slowly and globally. Global infrastructure and production chains will be increasingly harder to maintain. Many nation-states and local communities will see their material conditions deteriorate over the years. Although this will lead to a reduction in population and welfare, the gradual transition will allow for adaptation.
Non-Linear Due to ecological and infrastructural cross-dependencies, there will be a breaking point where several different and converging forces will be triggered. These will accelerate collapse before a stable situation is reached. This rate of change may be too rapid for humans to adapt to effectively.


Deniers: there are no downward trends, climatic or ecological threats. The present order is not subject to threats of historic magnitude or capable of experiences compromised material and social well-being. Examples: Koch Brothers, Exxon, Clintel Defeatists: the collapse is inevitable because we should have acted earlier. Now any technical and political solution is superfluous.
Technological Optimists: collapse is possible, but it is a technical problem that can be solved. In particular, new technologies in the ecological, energetic, and digital field will be able to reverse the phenomena we are observing. Delayers: collapse is inevitable and the primary goal is to slow it down in order to extend current conditions as much as possible, making it easier to get through the collapse, and to minimize the cost in terms of human lives.
Reformists: collapse will be prevented by deep restructuring of the production system, welfare, and huge investments in ecological remediation. There will be a political tipping point due to the damage caused by the approaching collapse and the resistance of nation-states to act and protect the status quo. When that happens, sufficient forces will be released for radical interventions. Post-collapsists: the collapse is inevitable and therefore we must act now to build conceptual, technical, and social tools that will serve us during and after the collapse in order to minimize long-term consequences.