The above graph is adapted from Limits to Growth, Revisited. It is not a hard and fast prediction, but rather the product of a model with 40 years of high correspondence with developments. We are, at present, at the top of the growth curves, many of which have already begun to plateau. Slopes of decline do not factor in such worst-case scenarios as widespread urban- or domestic nuclear facilities collapse consequent to economic collapse.

I've added the shading and 'crossover' circle' (coincident with 'peak everything') to indicate my best guess as to the high probablility zone for global, economic collapse, triggering the onset of TEOTWAWKI.

I fear a hard landing... no 'reboot' or 'transition' to a lower functioning economy. I urge high priority preparation now.

I've got a short glossary of terms at the bottom of this page... if you come across an unfamiliar term, please scroll down and check it out.

Information I'm including or pointing to doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it. Rather, I've found it to be stimulating and worthy of consideration. I'm sure you'll exercise your own judgement... we're nothing if not independent! 8)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An Aspect Ratio Component to Collapse?

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.
-- Proverb

An Aspect Ratio Component to Collapse?

Over the years, I've seen a number of buildings collapse.

Some take years, slowly kneeling - like a dying elephant - before collapsing gently in place. Others stand proud - losing a bit, here and there, to wind and weather - then, one day to the next, they collapse with a roar.

It dawns on me that aspect ratio is a pretty good predictor of which it will be. Buildings which are short for their footprint ease themselves to the ground. Those which are tall for their footprint go down fast and hard. Think the Pyramids vs the Twin Towers.

If this a property of systems in general, we might wonder what aspect ratio describes our global industrial civilization?

A subsistence  farmer might be described as low aspect. Aside from a few necessities - salt and iron are often all that's needed - all necessities are provided from the footprint. In contrast, a corporate farm cannot be worked without constant supply from the outside world (machinery, fuel, fertilizer, seed, a market, etc...), and a critical failure can bring operations to a halt. I'd consider that high aspect.

Even more so in the case of cities. 

Cities are utterly dependent on the uninterrupted flow of goods, services, material and personnel from well outside its footprint. In some cases from a world away. Very high aspect in our half-urban world.

I'm just sayin'.


  1. I really like the Aspect ratio analogy. It seems spot on. The only observation i can offer is that sometimes interconnectedness means that one section crumbles but another linkage can take the load. This can mean on the one hand a structure seems to have a high aspect ratio but when you can see it's connections it has a lower aspect ratio than thought. But of course this network of shared load can be increasingly erroded in such a fashion that a much bigger structure eventually falls in.

    1. Hi Tassiebush,

      Hmm... I'm thinking that a high aspect ratio will stress the supporting structures more than a low aspect ration.

      Assuming they were equivalent, compensating interconnectedness in support structures would be nearly constant, so I'd think the one more stressed would give sooner, all else being equal? Better interconnectivity schemes would delay collapse longer, but aspect ratio would still be a good relative indicator of rate of collapse?

      'Course, in this blog, I'm way out of my field. Just speculating.

      Dave Z

    2. I think aspect ratio would always be a good indicator. It's more just that sometimes it might be hard to see the aspect ratio for what it was. Hi or low? The interconnected system might look like a large but low aspect ratio structure only to turn out to be a suddenly isolated structure of high aspect ratio. On the other hand sometimes what looked to be high aspect ratio would have support that couldn't immediately be seen. But once we sort through what is what the aspect ratio rules are still consistently applicable. I wouldn't be surprised if with most things it would be like a foodweb deprived of it's foundations becoming increasingly top heavy.

  2. There is always the aspect of two (or more) structures with supports between them. As long as the supports endure, the entire combined structure acts like a single lower aspect building. Once the supports go, it is revealed as two (or more) top heavy structures. In house construction, all the pieces help support the other, but if one wall is removed, everything else can fall appart very quickly

  3. I also think the aspect ratio analogy is apt. The post mentioned cities, as one example. To my way of thinking, cities not only have the highest aspect ratio of all, but the least flexibility to adapt when necessary. The entire urban model is heavily imbalanced toward taking/consuming vs. making/contributing anything of true value, especially in a collapse/post-collapse scenario. And as the "half-urban world" article points out, in a few short years, at least 2/3's of all people will be limited to that mode of societal interaction, and its consequences.

    Beyond simple reasoning (or louder yelling), this aspect ratio analogy might be a way to demonstrate that the "hard landing" school of thought is not just one of many equally likely outcomes.

  4. Thank you for the read. Honestly you covered the topic and broadly examined all
    areas. If i was to write this i would have done a few things differently myself but you

  5. Only somewhat related to this post by virtue of relative risk ...

    Hoping to help balance some of the often seen, OMG-type arm-flapping related to a looming crisis, I'm sharing this latest article from The Atlantic which talks about recent reports on the calculated odds of people dying in global events. The title is even catchy -- "Human Extinction Isn't That Unlikely":

  6. Oh, and this one on the water crisis:


Hey Folks... I'm not in a position to moderate comments. If discussion remains respectful and on topic, I welcome comments (passion okay). If it spins out of control, I'll have disallow them... I thank you for your civility.

I've opened comments to all 'Registered Users' (whatever that means!) to help weed out pesky spam.

- Dave Z