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Beyond Zero Population: Climate Change & the Resilience of Civilizations

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Document pages: 19 pages

Abstract: A number of publications, both books and articles, have appeared in recent years attempting to prove that there is a correlation between global climate change and the collapse of complex human societies. This paper addresses a possible exception the the idea of global effects. While societies under stress from weather changes may undergo significant economic and political change in response, Joseph Tainter has shown that a local systems analysis is best applied to determine the contribution of the internal dynamics of a society, rather than assign climate the ultimate effect. In this paper I suggest that Khmer society was a sustainable response to local conditions and an exception to the proposed global collapse theory. However, continued population growth worldwide and rising consumption are continued stresses that must be considered in the context of climate change. Pre-Neolithic population densities and modern technology could be a means of adapting human society to the constraints of quality of life and diminishing returns of technology.

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