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Two scientists have concluded that what is more likely is that the civilization suffers “an irreversible collapse” in just 40 years . In an article recently published in “Scientific Reports”, focused on mathematical models to reflect the evolution of complex systems, have been suggested as a cause of deforestation and the destruction of the forests on the planet.

“Our calculations show that, keeping the current rate of growth population and consumption of resources, in particular, the consumption of forest —have written to the authors, Mauro Bologna, and Gerardo Aquino— we have a few decades before an irreversible collapse of our civilization.”

Leaving aside pandemics, economic crises, and the effects of global warming, the researchers placed the continued deforestation of the planet’s forests as the cause of a major collapse of the world’s population. According to remember, it is estimated that before the advent of civilization, the Earth was covered by 60 million square kilometers of forests , while now that figure is less than 40. The deforestation that occurred between the years 2000 and 2012 shows that, each year, deforest 200.000 square kilometers of forest; keep this rate, the masses of forest disappear in a period of between 100 and 200 years.

A catastrophe almost certain… if all else being equal

These figures leave almost no place for a favorable scenario: “A catastrophic collapse of human population due to the consumption of resources, is the most likely scenario, based on the dynamic evolution of the current parameters”, have concluded. “ The probability that our civilization will survive is less than 10% , in the most optimistic scenario”. According to their assumptions, this will result in a drastic decline in the population.

To make matters worse this black panorama, Bologna and Aquinas point out that it is unrealistic to consider that the fall of the population, a degraded environment, it will be orderly and not chaotic: “This consideration leads to that is still less time.”

The article has the big limitation the authors have assumed that the rate of growth of the population and the rate of deforestation will be constant in the coming years. In this way, the researchers conclude that the disaster is at a distance of 20 to 40 years . In support of this assumption, they show that it is difficult to imagine, “in the absence of a collective effort is very important, large changes in these parameters,” in so short a period.

however, have recognized that it is possible that changes in these trends due to climate change but also because of reforestation, driven by the man.

what grounds for optimism?

In fact, the actual data show, on the one hand, that are losing forests, but at a slower pace and, on the other, that the rate of population growth is moderating, just as pointed out by Nafeez Ahmed in “Vice.com”.

In particular, although the loss of forests was accelerated by 2.8% in 2019, according to Global Forest Watch, in comparison with the nineties, the rate of loss of forests has decreased from 7.8 million hectares per year to 4.7 , according to FAO data, thanks to reforestation.

A brazilian police inspects a pile of trees illegally harvested from the pluviselva amazon, in 2013 – REUTERS

therefore, it is possible that the study’s conclusions are too pessimistic, but it is also true that the trend is negative. According to the balance sheet of the United Nations, between 1990 and 2020 has lost an area of forest comparable to the size of Libya.

on the other hand, it is difficult to imagine that the growth of the population will remain stable. A recent study published in “The Lancet” concluded that by mid-century the population will begin to dwindle.

The importance of the forests

apart from this, the authors have reminded us that the forests provide significant “services” to the man and the planet, such as the “carbon storage, oxygen production, soil conservation and the regulation of the water cycle.” In addition, have been added, the forests give support to the food systems and natural and human, clean the atmosphere and provide shelter to “countless species , including us, by means of the construction materials”.

For all this, have you considered, “because of their key role in terrestrial ecosystems, it is highly unlikely to imagine the survival of many species, including our own, in a Land without forests”.

For that reason, we have focused on modelling the consequences of deforestation indiscriminate. Through statistical tools, have been mapped models to represent the interaction between forests and humans, based on a dynamic deterministic and logistics, in combination with a model non-deterministic in order to represent the evolution of human technology.

can be Extended by other planets?

finally, have you considered other models that evaluate the ability of civilizations to be extended by other planets of their solar systems. In accordance with the scale of Karsashov, which measures the technological progress of a civilization , these entities only have the capacity to be extended by other planets of your solar system original if you are able to build a Dyson sphere. This is a megaestructura hypothetical, it’s built around the stars, by means of which a supposed extraterrestrial civilization, it would get enormous amounts of energy to drive their factories and their space ships.

A Dyson sphere, a structure built by alien civilizations around distant stars – Danielle Futselaar/SETI International

Taking into account the energy produced by the Sun and their estimates on the technological progress of civilization, the chance of avoiding collapse are “very low”, around that 10% already quoted.

Extrapolating all of this, in his opinion, it can be concluded that civilization generic is about two centuries , from its industrialization to complete, to achieve spread by your solar system.

Gerardo Aquino is a researcher at the Institute, Alan Turing, in London, and works in modeling systems of political, economic and cultural complexes, with the aim of predicting conflicts. On the other hand, Mauro Bologna is a researcher in the Department of Electronic Engineering of the University of Tarapaca, in Chile.

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