(12c) Collapse. When nature destroys civilisations.
The title of this article is taken from the front page of New Scientist (4 August 2012) that referred to the cover story about the influence of climate changes on the decline of societies. Studies suggest this influence is much larger than previously thought while some scientists still doubt its effects because they say some civilisations continued even after long periods of changes in the climate. Here I will discuss why I think that indeed climate changes were responsible for the destruction of many civilisations while some civilisations did survive.
Why and how I think societies collapsed due to climate change.
|Some historical American art, although I am not sure from which period or cultures (Aztek, Mayan, Inca or indians)|
|Even relatively recent buildings can become ruins, even in the middle of cities due to fire or no longer needed.|
Recently, people from a small Spanish town called Marinaleda took food from supermarkets and distributed it amongst the hungry (kind of Robin Hood) while explaining their action wanted to demonstrate people are desperate. The reaction of the government: they arrested all people involved and promised a crackdown on all those who repeat this type of actions.
In many countries, social unrest increases while it becomes less tolerated because investors would stay away while many smaller businesses also complain about the austerity measures of governments and the problems getting money to invest. But to please the big markets (and thus investors), benefits are further reduced at a time when it is predicted unemployment will continue to rise, and thus more people will find it harder to survive. One would expected governments and bankers meet more ordinary people to listen and understand their needs, although that is probably regarded as being weak and bowing to violence. But, when people become very poor and have the choice between starvation or risk their lives during (food) protests, people may as well decide to protest in the hope they will be changes for the better because those in power start to understand the people are desperate. Indeed, in many countries one can see protests are becoming much more violent. The EU tries to help countries (e.g. I read they distribute food in Spain) while it demands actions from the countries to reduce their debts (I explained before I think the help should go to stimulate the local economy so people notice the help and not to pay the debts of countries), but because people notice only the demands as they are getting poorer they protest against those who try to help.
Although governments are warned their actions will lead to more social unrest, they claim they have to keep investors happy. E.g. I read recently that the UK agreed to the demands of bankers to allow again higher bonuses in return for more investments into the economy. Of course, investments are needed because otherwise there are no jobs but should only the demands of the rich be met? Also governments need money to help the growing numbers of unemployed people or stimulate the economy although some governments follow the advice of large companies: fire people. Governments can get this money when everyone pays their taxes, including the rich. This doesn't mean taxes need to increase but everyone should pay them while tax reductions should only be for people who are less well-off because reductions (or tax avoidance) for few rich people or companies necessitates high taxes for everyone else (although one can't break agreements of the past but apply them on future agreements. I admit, there is a problem because the wealthy flee their responsibilities and move to countries that welcome them and their money. This angers poorer countries who accuse the other countries a lack of solidarity. Therefore, countries within Europe and the UN should work together so everyone, no matter where they are, can't escape paying taxes by moving from one country to another unless they escape to the moon. Taxes raised by the EU and UN can then be used to help countries while countries can pay a much smaller (no?) contribution to the EU and UN (although with reduction of influence as they are then independent).
Not only is there the need to distribute money more fairly, also work should be better distributed. At this moment, companies fire employees while those remaining need to work harder, making them tired and thus more vulnerable to making mistakes and more aggressive. Therefore, I think high-earners should earn less so colleagues can be paid and as more people work, societies remain calm. It would also mean more people can continue consuming and thus stimulate the economy, although without over-consuming. Income from taxes on people's wages will then be higher and could be used to reduce the countries debts but also to try to stimulate the economy while pay benefits of the unemployed so they too can continue to buy essential goods and live in a house. Tax money should also be used to keep schools running, thereby employing teachers but also reducing stress from parents who are concerned whether their children still receive good education (although children may now discover how lucky they were being able to go to school while often they didn't show respect for their teachers). Also the running of health services is important, certainly with an ageing population (good governments would have prepared themselves for the rapid increase in pensioners as this was predicted decades ago).
Regarding essential products such as food, in general food prices should not be kept artificially too low as then farmers suffer although also poor people should be able to buy. Therefore, either market prices are kept low and governments pay the difference to farmers (although in the past this system let to abuses by some farmers). Maybe better is that people pay the real food price (and thus don't take food for granted) but governments help those who earn too little (although that would mean the minimum income is too low and should rise). This will keep social unrest related to food prices low (remember, an important reason why revolutions started in the Middle-East was because high unemployment and increased food prices and thus more people couldn't buy enough food and became hungry). As the UN warns governments food prices may continue to increase because crop failures or farmland is used for biofuels, good governments would prepare for this and demand farmland is used only for food production while industrial grounds can be used to produce biofuel (this may even reduce ground pollution). Further, good governments will invest in storing food after reading the UN's warnings and not only at one place (e.g. tin food can be stored for many years).
The near future: climate change?
E.g. when earthquakes happen, worldwide countries are willing to help the victims. Countries send food, water, tents and health workers. Of course, when the government of the country refuses help, then this should be accepted because as long as the people accept their government, they accept its decision to refuse help. After tensions in the country rise because help was refused and people die, the government has to accept help or face its downfall from within. Probably, some governments, supported by their citizens, behaved so badly that countries didn't want to help, and thus people got their punishment for their behaviour. I think that were circumstances when societies collapsed. Worse of all is when an evil neighbouring society takes advantage of troubles in the other society. But then, other countries will help the good country because they fear the other country while they wouldn't mind the collapse of a bad government in the hope something better will rise (e.g. Kuwait was defended when Iraq invaded it).
And religions? Religious people are becoming more aggressive towards non-believers and other religions but also towards other sections of their own religion. And natural and financial disasters can help their case as they will claim God is making it all happen.