Three factors that could lead to the collapse of human civilization are named: all of them have already been launched

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
Just three factors can destroy even the most powerful empires. Source: Thomas Cole/Wikimedia Commons; Getty/Davide Zanin/OBOZREVATEL collage

Humanity is most likely on its way to an imminent collapse, which, however, is still preventable. At least when compared to how the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China for almost 300 years, came to collapse, humanity is not to be envied.

This is according to a study published in Plos ONE. The Qing Dynasty's economy was much richer than modern China, but that didn't save it from collapse in 1912.

Researcher and author of the paper, Peter Turchin, explained that it was crucial to understand the origins of the instability that led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

"It would be a mistake to assume that this is in the past and cannot happen again. Such changes can indeed occur because the underlying mechanisms are remarkably similar," he said.

As a result of the study, Turchin and his colleagues found that there are three key elements that exert the most socio-political pressure.

The study also allowed the researchers to better understand how a war or recession can shake up and destabilize a society. This is important because it will allow them to predict which contemporary events could have catastrophic consequences in the future.

It turns out that the first factor in the collapse of the Qing dynasty was the rapid increase in population, which occurred in four stages between 1700 and 1840. This resulted in much less land per person, which greatly affected rural communities that fed themselves.

The second factor was the increased competition for elite positions. The increase in the number of people also led to the fact that a very large number of people began to apply for the same position. A similar situation occurred in the modern labor market, when hundreds of people can apply for one position.

As scholars point out, eventually, during the Qing Dynasty, the lack of opportunity to move up the bureaucratic ladder led to a crisis caused by a group of disgruntled elite aspirants. This turned into one of the bloodiest civil wars known as the Taiping Rebellion. It took the lives of between 20 and 30 million people.

This rebellion lasted 14 years, so it is understandable that it harmed the country. This is the third factor that led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty. It was the rising costs of dealing with the aftermath. Scholars explain that between the suppression of riots, declining productivity, and trade deficits caused by the depletion of silver and opium reserves, the Qing Dynasty was in financial chaos.

"Unfortunately, the devastating effects of rising inequality and diminishing opportunities manifest themselves on longer time scales, making them difficult to recognize, let alone effectively combat within the short political cycles we see in many countries," explained study co-author and CSH affiliated researcher Daniel Hoyer.

Without a long-term vision and targeted strategies to reduce these social pressures, he said, "many countries risk repeating the Qing path."

Earlier OBOZREVATEL also published the forecast of the ecologist, who stated about the threat of civilizational collapse on Earth.

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