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Global Catastrophic Risks and a Potential Collapse

For any given system, it is important to have early indictions of a potential pending collapse of the system. What are the signs in the noise that point towards a system collapse? What are the “red lights” that provide a warning that something of fundamental danger is developing?

The following is a brainstorm of signs of collapse. The indictors of a potential collapse should be include in the list of essential variables for the ELSS. If some of these variables or indicators could be monitored, then we could look for inflection points and perhaps get an early warning for action.

In the following list, those followed marked by * are either currently being tracked by someone or could be tracked given the right resources.

  • Governance Systems
    • * Failed states
    • * Localized wars and ethnic strife
    • Legislative paralysis, e.g. the USA in recent years
    • Political divisiveness and rise of authoritarianism
    • Corruption and loss of commitment to public service in elected officials
    • * Privatization of key public goods (e.g., roads, water, post office)
    • * Coups against democratic govts, e.g. Bolivia recently
  • Economic Systems
    • * Regional economic slowdowns
    • * Rising unemployment
    • * Rise in food price
    • * Interruptions in supply chains
    • * Outages in power grids (frequency, duration, scope)
    • * Shortages of critical raw materials
    • * Bankruptcies of major corporations (failure to adapt)
    • Consolidation into ever bigger corporations means loss of diversity
    • Unregulated financial system engaging in evermore risky behavior
  • Stresses from Nature
    • * Famines
    • * Droughts
    • * Extreme weather
    • * Major crop failures
    • * Pandemics and new diseases
    • * Local ecosystems transitioning into deserts or other much simpler systems
  • The People
    • * Involuntary migration and refugees (perhaps the total or maybe climate change refugees, tracked by United Nations)
    • Mass movements demanding radical changes, e.g. BLM, Extinction Rebellion
    • * Shortages of potable water
    • * Terrorist movements, mass shootings, etc.
    • * Rise of hate groups, armed militias, etc. (tracked by SPLC)
    • Doomsday “fight off your neighbors” survivalist/preppers movement
    • Widespread belief in unfounded conspiracy theories and fake news (opinion polls)
    • * Scorn for science (opinion polls)

Your Comments and Questions

Please, send us comments you might have on the variables and indicators for potential collapse. Let us know if you have any questions.
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