SKIL works to prevent Civilization Collapse

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On the Titanic, many difficult problems were solved correctly. The ballrooms were elegant. The soufflé's were served hot. However, the most important problem was not addressed — sinking.

And just like the talented crew of the Titanic, our governments, Kiwanis clubs, and philanthropists solve many problems, but not the most important one — civilization collapse.

Collapse is caused by too many people, declining earth services, and rising inequity. Collapse comes racing out of nowhere driven by the feedback loop — decreasing energy produces food scarcity. Scarcity produces social conflict. And conflict produces more scarcity.

If people spent all of their effort solving other problems and let collapse happen it would be a Titanic mistake. We should be focusing on contracting human footprint faster than earth's services are expected to contract. We need to limit inequity below levels that drive social conflict.

By my calculations, contracting our footprint to 1/150th this century solves these problems. Why this large contraction? Why this short timetable? First, rising inequity will flood our neighborhoods with social conflict. Second, we are supporting 7 billion people on the coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium that won’t be delivered in 2100.

Yes, there will still be reserves of these resources buried in the ground next century, however, the energy to extract them will be more than the energy they will deliver.

Won’t renewable energy from solar and wind replace these loses? No! Because these sources, after using their own energy to keep themselves on-line, don’t produce enough "net energy" to run the civilization that we want.

Without fossil, uranium, solar, and wind sources, civilization’s 22nd century's energy budget will depend on the earth's in-place hydro electric dams. By my calculations they produce only enough energy to support 50 million people. These 50 million will be able to live a developed-world lifestyle. But they won't be driving cars or flying in airplanes. And they won't be living all over the earth. Instead they will be living in 3 efficiently designed city states.

Now, how do we get from here to there when the current solutions are not strong enough? Even today's most aggressive solutions will not work. For example: The "Too-many-people problem" addressed by fewer babies (through improving woman’s rights, access to health care, education, and the demographic transition,) and the "too-few-resources problem, addressed by technologically doing more with less, are like improving hot water delivery to the Titanic's third class showers. These solutions, even if successfully implemented, do not prevent collapse.

While reducing population to 50 million this century seems near impossible, an honest assessment of our children and grandchildren struggling with civilization collapse should drive us to discover the path required for transition and accept the hard choices that we have to make.

The path under consideration at SKIL, "Change the Course," results from convincing 3 billion people to :
      1) see the injuries produced by humankind’s present course.
      2) visualize the design of a non collapsing civilization on earth.
      3) understand which behaviors will transition the existing
            civilization to this new one.
      4) know which laws will have to be implemented at the
            institutional level to obtain these behaviors, and
      5) vote to cause institutions to implement these laws.

Initial descriptions of how to achieve the above five steps can be found in the video's below. More detailed work can be found at However, here is a peek at the new laws (item 4) that would be required to make the transition from the present course toward collapse to a peaceful, sustainable civilization.
      1) civil control over annual number of births per year.
      2) managing social conflict though limitations in separation
            between the rich and poor.
      3) assigning equal ownership of the earth’s services to the next 100 generations.

We and our children are passengers on our Titanic like earth, and we all need to intellectually and financially support projects that address civilization collapse. SKIL needs your financial assistance to create the 3 billion person constituency. ---


   SKIL Notes Position Papers

Viewable Presentations Dinner Program Extras Contact:
Jack Alpert
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SKIL            Stanford Knowledge Integration Laboratory

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                  Jack Alpert

blue plate on top of world

Change the Course

Internet Group Text Discussions

video invite       Text invite         Text summary of video

Electronic Conference Table discussions 

 video invite        Text invite         Text summary of video

Archived documents          Jan. 1, 2014

Too Many People Video series

How Much Degrowth is Enough?                              Sept. 2012

The Human Predicament and What to Do About It     Feb. 2012

Overpopulation Means Civilization Collapse            Aug. 2011

From Overshoot to Sustainability

Vermont conference workshop June 10th 2013

                             Feedback to USSEE board on conference


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to:     (homepage)      position papers

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