What’s NASA Hiding? Funds Study That Predicts How The World Will End, Then Washes Its Hands Of The Research

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In March 2014, a new study partly-sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center found that modern civilization will collapse in mere decades unless humans reduce inequality and shift to renewable resources. The scientists created a NASA-funded new cross-disciplinary model – Human And Nature DYnamics or HANDY – on climate change to compare an egalitarian society, an equitable society, and an unequal society.

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According to The Guardian, the study came to a conclusion that history is replete with evidences that advanced, complex civilizations are susceptible to collapse. Its authors claimed that HANDY offered a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations, business and consumers to recognize that policy and structural changes are required immediately to avoid societal collapse.

“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”

The study further investigated factors, which may be most closely linked to civilizations’ downfalls, including population, climate, water, agriculture, and energy. Together, these factors can create resource strain and a wide gap between rich and poor. Increased strain on resources and widening gap between rich and poor may lead to industrial civilization’s collapse, the study warned.

Poor+vs+rich

The researchers offered a series of doomsday scenarios. In the first, for instance, the elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. In the second, the decline of the commoners occurs faster, while the elites are still thriving. Eventually the commoners collapse completely, followed by the elites.

In order to avoid the catastrophe, the authors recommended two key solutions: to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth.

However, the study, which simply sought to investigate if the possibility of a societal collapse was real and whether complex, advanced civilizations can really collapse, and offered solutions hard to implement [for obvious reasons], was rebutted quickly by NASA.

scientists-clues-print

All hell broke loose when NASA called media reports crediting the agency with the study as erroneous and promptly issued a clarification:

“A soon-to-be published research paper ‘Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies’ by University of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota’s Jorge Rivas was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions.”

Did NASA fund civilization collapse study, or not?

NASA’s funding for the very research behind the study is explicitly acknowledged in the paper:

“This work was partially funded through NASA/GSFC [Goddard Space Flight Center] grant NNX12AD03A.”

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The US National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, where the lead author carried out his research for the project, issued an official clarification:

“Motesharrei received minor support from NASA to develop a coupled earth system model. Some of this funding was spent on the mathematical development of the HANDY model.”

The HANDY model was indeed funded by NASA; even if the conclusions of the study do not represent the views of the space agency. That makes one ponder – was the NASA connection played up to sell the study to the public? Or was there more to NASA’s response than meets the eye? Remember – global inequality is growing, with half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population? Do you think NASA would like to offend its own direct/indirect funders by accepting it funded the HANDY study whose outcome suggests the rich mend its ways?

FT_WEF-inequality

But what about the study?

William Matt Briggs, a statistical consultant and adjunct professor of statistical science at Cornell University, criticized the research and called the interpretations [of the study] as just pulled out of the sky, and have nothing to do with any real human society.

“The authors note that “cultural decline and social decadence, popular uprisings, and civil wars” can cause or contribute to societal collapse. But none of these have to do with the environment, our modern obsession. So the authors ignored all possible causes except the environmental in “a simple model, not intended to describe actual individual cases, but rather to provide a general framework that allows carrying out ‘thought experiments’ for the phenomenon of collapse and to test changes that would avoid it.” They call this curiosity the “Human And Nature DYnamics (HANDY)” model.

“It’s based on standard predator-prey models which work like this: a population of wolves eat the locally available deer, whose population necessarily declines, perhaps to the point where some wolves starve, decreasing their population; the concomitant reduced predation allows the deer to rebound, which gives the opportunity for more hot dinners for the wolves, which begins the cycle anew. HANDY swaps the wolves for human beings and the deer for “Nature”.”

However, The Guardian observed:

Although the study based on HANDY is largely theoretical – a ‘thought-experiment’ – a number of other more empirically-focused studies – by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance – have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a ‘perfect storm’ within about fifteen years. But these ‘business as usual’ forecasts could be very conservative.


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21 COMMENTS

  1. Jesus Christ get over yourselves. The end of planet Earth, puh-fucking lease. We’ll figure out desalination and that will take care of water. Our species will continue to kill off things for a while longer until we kill ourselves. After that the planet will continue on as always. We are a blip in this planets history.

  2. climate change, ocean ecosystem collapse, coastal inundation, food production collapses, massive famine, massive migration, war, rise of fascism, some conflict on a flashpoint border goes nuclear with a few hundred bombs going off, say between pakistan and india, the resulting pollution creates a global famine and radiological disaster and the conditions for a much larger nuclear war with thousands of warheads, and it all goes.

  3. There are so many facets, as small as they might seem, that are pointing towards a violent future coming. The weather is becoming very unstable, and that bodes badly for the generations to come. We are going to see a rise in major catastrophes, from droughts to floods, and also shifts due to temperature changes. In just my 40 years on Earth, I have watched the weather become unstable and most unpredictable. For the weather to chamge in such a short period of time, points to huge impacts down the road as it continues to spin out of control. The weather will continue to disrupt everything, as everything relies heavily upon the weather. It is impossible to reverse it. The system will not allow for changes to happen in a timely manner. We are seeing too many firsts in weather temps and behaviors, and the time is coming when it turns violent and the Earth begins to shift as it begins to become more unstable.

  4. Stupid. The earth is cooling, it has been for several year. Don’t believe everything from you read on one site. Research other sources. You’ll find earth always goes through changes, warming and cooling periods. We are not that important, our egos are bigger than us. The planet is fine and will be fine long after we are gone. Just get over it. It’s not in anyone’s or countries or worlds control. If you want to do something help someone to learn to read, help your kid do better in school, volunteer. But don’t stress about all of this. It’s a complete waste of your valuable time on this planet.

    • To Steve: saying to people they are stupid isn’t a good beginning to enlighten them. Example: you’re saying stupid things about the planet, but with real arguments. The planet temperature did vary a lot since it creation: that is true. However, right now, the planet temperature is rising, you just can’t deny that without refuting facts (iceberg melting, summer hotter, etc…). If it was only because of the earth, it would be ok, you’re right about that too. But you’re talking about climat change that occured on 1 000 000 years timescale, so life had time to evolve in order to survive. Current climate change are on hundrer of years timescale. Do you think we can compare continental drift climates change (millions, maybe billions of years) and human current changes on the same timescale? If yes, you are stupid by choice. I apologize for my english, not my native language.

  5. if you want to live in this world you must open your wisdom eye/3rd eye then you are change you can see the light not the physical but spiritual light, life light then no more crime, no more sin same time you must follow the law stop killing with out open your wisdom eye you cant change with out you change you cant stop crime

  6. What a crock. A collapse due to imaginary environmental concerns? The $550 trillion interest rate derivatives bubble will cause a global financial collapse within much. much sooner. Probably within months. The “solution” will be a thermonuclear war that will reduce human populations by 4 or 5 billion. Problem solved.

  7. Let’s see..

    Total lack of understanding how scientific funding works… check
    Misrepresentation of a scientific study to an astounding degree…. check
    Mindless conspiracy baiting… check
    Shameful politicization of an overblown, discredited media blunder… check

    Good job guys. I really wish it was physically possible to set this website on fire.

  8. Climate change is real. But it hasnt started effecting people that much yet. We have our water resourses avaiable. We have developed advanced crops which grow faster and better to fulfill our needs. Migrations have been seen in the recent years due to unstability in the middle east(power games) not because of unavailability of food, water or climate change. I hope govts could get rid of their greed and could work together for the betterment of our home planet.

  9. The Planet does not need saving. The earth will endure whatever the ape descendants do. That said the density of this biological pollutant needs to be reduced to a few million to made it a more pleasant place to live.

  10. One can’t say if we do all the right things it will get better. But we need to agree on what these changes are. I will tell you the first one is population control and war is the worst answer. We can change but is it in us to do so?

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