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Advanced industrial civilization will collapse by 2100

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/11/2018 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 806 times Debate No: 112612
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Hullo everybody! Please only accept this debate if you are willing to have a serious discussion of the topic.

"Collapse of advanced industrial civilization" includes:

1) A sharp drop in global human population caused by drought, pandemic, or famine;

2) The widespread collapse of governments without a stable large-scale state forming to replace them;

3) Any other upheaval (social or ecological) that results in far more simplified technological, social, and economic practices in global society.

Next round is for acceptance only and clarification of definitions, if needed. The burden of proof is on me.


I am glad to accept this debate, and hope to entertain you.

There is a strong argument to be made for the possibility of a partial "collapse of advanced industrial civilization". But for the sake of clarity, I would prefer to argue against a hypothetical event which would encompass the totality of the provided definition.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to nayaj for accepting this debate :)


My argument will have two parts: The first, that collapse of industrial civilization is inevitable by nature; and the second, that certain pressures are converging on the global population that make it extremely likely that collapse will occur by 2100.

1. Industrial Civilization is Doomed

The population of the earth has been growing rapidly since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. In 1804, the global human population reached 1 billion. It took only 123 years for that to double. It took 32 more years for the population to reach 3 billion, and then 15 years for the next billion, and 13, and then 12. (

From this graph it appears that the population began increasing very rapidly around 1950, right after WWII:( After the war, major nitrate plants that had been creating nitrates for explosives using a fossil-fuel-intensive process called nitrogen fixation shifted to fertilizer production. The use of chemical fertilizers and the ability to mass-produce them allowed for industrialized farming on an unprecedented scale. ( This industrial farming, coupled with advances in medicine, is what is responsible for this massive population.

As mentioned above, nitrate fixation is a heat-intensive, and therefore resource-intensive process. The most commonly used process for industrial fertilizer production is the Haber process ( which uses natural gas. The Haber process has been described as the main catalyst for population explosion:

If the nitrogen fixation process is seen as the breakthrough that allowed population to take off, that means it is also the process that sustainsthe global population. Population increases whenever there is an increase in human carrying capacity--like with the birth of agriculture, the use of iron tools, the invention of firearms that allowed Europeans to build overseas empires that fed massive population growth at home, and finally the use of fossil fuels that allowed for industrialization and enormous increases in agricultural production.

If we have made the continued growth or maintenance of the global population dependent on massive industrial farming, and the fertilizers that keep the industrial farms running are entirely dependent on an abundance of fossil fuels like natural gas, then there is a problem. These resources that prop up our global population are finite.Someday--be it tomorrow, in fifty years, or five hundred--their extraction will peak. It may not collapse sharply after that, as peak oil theorists believe, but it will peak, and it will start to go down. Eventually, these resources will be being extracted at such a slow rate (due to dwindling reserves) that they will no longer be able to support the enormous demands of industrial-scale agriculture, and the agriculture industry will collapse--and with it, the global population. The global human population is living on borrowed time.

Carrying capacity is defined as "the maximum, equilibrium number of organisms of a particular species that can be supported indefinitely in a given environment." (;) The key word here is "indefinitely." If a species' population is dependent on the rapid drawdown of resources that will not renew themselves within several lifetimes or even millions of years (in the case of fossil fuels) that species is exceeding its carrying capacity, and a crash is inevitable. Humans have found a way to "escape", for a time, the limitations of global human carrying capacity. We have done this through the extensive use of fossil fuels in our agriculture and industry. We have propped up our population on the use of resources that are in no way renewable. Fossil fuels took millions of years to form and deposit and they will take millions of years to regenerate once we have depleted them. They cannot support our population indefinitely, so any increase in population that relies on them is an overshoot of carrying capacity--and any overshoot in capacity will always lead to collapse. We have decided to use nonrenewable resources to fuel extreme population growth and have therefore doomed ourselves to collapse.

Increasing Pressures on Population and Governments

I have (hopefully) shown that the collapse of industrial civilization is inevitable--but not that it will necessarily happen any time soon. However, there are certain global trends that could aggravate the effects of resource depletion, or further decrease the ability of the human population to sustain itself in the short term. In this section I will attempt to prove that these converging trends will cause collapse by 2100.


The climate is changing due to human activity. 97% of scientists agree ( I don't expect this to be a major point of contention, so I'll move on to its effects.

a. Refugees
As the climate warms, sea level will rise and periods of drought will increase and become more severe. Deserts will expand and farmable land will dramatically contract, especially in places that are already at constant risk of drought, like sub-Saharan Africa. Africa especially will feel these effects because so many people rely on subsistence farming to survive. Beyond even subsistence farming, Africa has a comparatively enormous farming economy—60% of jobs on the whole continent are in agriculture ( ). Droughts are already starting to become more common in Africa, and people (and aid organizations) are beginning to feel the stress brought on by climate change: ( ).

As this process continues, a massive flow of refugees will be forced out of Africa and other impoverished, drought-stricken areas and into Europe, as we have seen with the current refugee crisis, and into Asia. Because such a huge part of Africa’s economy is agriculture, if African agriculture collapses we will likely see millions of economic migrants in addition to people fleeing drought, famine, or war. Projections for the influx of climate refugees range from 25 million to 1 billion, and the most commonly accepted number is 200 million ( ). For context, the size of the current Syrian refugee crisis is estimated to be about five million ( )--the refugee crisis that, at 1/40th of the projected climate refugees, is destabilizing European countries.

Climate change will also increase the number of armed conflicts in already unstable areas, since climate disasters have been shown to increase conflict in ethnically divided areas like Africa and the Middle East ( It's important to note that global food supply lanes are restricted to 14 global chokepoints, many in politically unstable areas, like the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Strait of Bab al-Mandab ( As these areas become more and more unstable, both through native climate conflicts and a massive influx of refugees, these chokepoints could be cut off, causing famines in import-reliant countries in much of Africa as well as richer countries like Japan or South Korea. All of these areas will be becoming more import-reliant for food, as they are impacted by drought, and if food supply was severed severe population collapse could occur.

b. Water Issues

As the world warms, clean water will get more and more scarce. As the recent, barely-averted water crisis in Cape Town shows (, large cities are incredibly reliant on their reservoirs for water. As population increases, and as the trend towards urbanization continues, more and more people will be reliant on these dwindling resources. The UN projects large water shortages and shortcomings in water distribution, especially in poor countries, by 2050 ( American cities are not safe either. Phoenix, Arizona is predicted to become unlivable by 2050--only 32 years from now--due to a combination of drought and heat ( that will cause the city to need 3.2 million acre-feet of water--5 times what Los Angeles uses in a year--in 2050. And this will not be an isolated incident. All across Africa, Southern Asia, and the desert areas of the US, cities will suffer these crises--and thousands or millions of people will likely be pushed out of the cities--and away from the industry that is in them. This will cause the "far more simplified technological and economic practices" in the definition of collapse above.

Unfortunately, I'm nearly out of characters. I could talk about dead zones in the oceans, changing current patterns, social decay, sea level rise--10,000 characters is really not enough to do this topic justice. I believe I have shown that one or more of the collapse criteria above will likely occur by 2100. Over to Con for the rebuttal :)

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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Tree_of_Death 3 years ago
@Nayaj--I'm going to be away on the weekend without internet access. If you could wait for as long as possible before posting your reply so I can have time to respond on Monday, that'd be great. Thanks and have a nice day :)
Posted by Nd2400 3 years ago
So, no come back to my respond?

Surprised no one pick up this debate...
Posted by FanboyMctroll 3 years ago
I won't be around in 2100, neither will you so who cares. Live your life now while you are alive, instead of worrying about things that will never affect you anyways.
Posted by Nd2400 3 years ago
The world is not safe with these weapons of mass destruction.

The Doomsday

Now it's only 2 minutes toward midnight. This is more of a guide on where things stand in the world and why. Yes sometime it get it wrong. Because it only do it once a year. But that doesn't mean we can't take it lightly. Beside it never hit midnight. Because if it had we probably wouldn't be here. So we should be lucky it didn't go off and hit midnight yet. But will we be lucky in the near future?
Posted by Nd2400 3 years ago
So you what is happening in Syria right now? The US is threatening a missile strike soon. And Russia is threatening to shoot them down. If Russia does act, then could turn out to be a war.

Have you ever heard of the Thucydides Trap ?

Wars runs in cycles, like in American history, The American Revolution, the Civil War, WW1 and WW2. This can be research in the Thucydides trap. There been 16 cases of this happening in the last 500 years. 12 of them went to war. "Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?" By Graham T. Allison. Wars happen because countries challenge the dominance power, over trade, territorial areas, military, and economy. We seeing the islands china made is challenging the US dominant in the Pacific. The raising military china is having, our trade dispute with china is creating huge problems.

Matthew 24:6
I think you heard of the bible.
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."

We know that end-time Bible prophecy concerning the Third Temple is soon to be fulfilled because Israel was prophetically reborn as a nation in 1948 (Isaiah 66:8), and most of these Temple preparations only started in the last 30 years".

"Both Daniel and Yeshua (Jesus) tell us that the Anti-Messiah will defile the Third Temple before the return of the true Messiah."

So you really think building the Embassy in Jerusalem will create peace, you are in fact wrong.... It won't create peace...

MAD is working and going to keep the world safe. You were right it did kept the world safe. But not true anymore. Not when so many other countries have them. And not when you have other countries prepared to use it. You still haven't answered my question either. Do you think the world is safe for how long 10 years 20 years 50 years or a hundred years?" Do you think the next world war would not use them? I hate to break it to you, but the world is
Posted by D4R 3 years ago
I believe that by 2100, everyone will be dead.
Posted by Tree_of_Death 3 years ago
@Nd2400 I agree, 2100 is a bit late, but given that this debate is highly speculative I wanted to leave a bit of room to accommodate any unexpected increases in the world's human carrying capacity.

I don't believe the "Fourth Turning" theory. Yes, there's a big war/"crisis event" every eighty years, but there's also other crises just as large that don't fall every eighty years. Vietnam and the division it caused was definitely a crisis in America, as was WWI and the 2008 financial crisis, but none of these occurred with any regularity like Howe and Strauss say they should.

Also I don't see war as a likely catalyst for collapse. People underestimate the power of MAD, and, even given rising tensions, it's very unlikely that there would be a hot war between nuclear powers, which is the only type of war that could cause the ecological destruction that would create actual collapse.
Posted by JPaul 3 years ago
I'm sure it's bound to collapse at some point. A drop in population is positive not negative. The world is overpopulated in reality. Don't think there are just 7.5 billion humans on Earth, they don't count the undocumented. If there are less people to feed, less population less strain on nature's resources.
If food, shelter and water are easily accessible, people don't need governments. Life is less advanced but there will be survivors.
People who live in overcrowded cities are very vulnerable to dying of starvation. Do not look down on agriculture. It is the land that feeds us not the dollar. After such a disaster, people will start realizing how important the preservation of natural resources and population control. Take only what you need.
Think of our current lives today, we work to keep the system running. But if there was no system and everyone just agreed to go farming and grow our own food in each locality, there's no need for an economy or currency. But all that impossible right now, because of overpopulation and scarcity. Something bad must happen to reduce the numbers and it's bound to happen.
Posted by Nd2400 3 years ago
I actually think this way too late for this. 2100 is a long time from now. that is 82 years from now. i would say this would happen within the next 10 years to 20.

Have you heard that major wars run in cycles? the last big war was WW2 that ended in 1945. Thats was 73 years ago. Every big war starts every 70 to 80 years. Every Generation has one. So what i'm looking at we are due for something to happen. If you haven't noticed but the world is fueling with tension almost in every part of the world right now.
Posted by Arganger 3 years ago
I agree that modern society is doomed to collapse, but 2100 might be a touch soon for most major damage.
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