Complexity and Collapse

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 21 2010
Posts: 412
Complexity and Collapse

     Joseph Tainter, an archeologist, recently produced an extremely insightful book entitled The Collapse of Complex Societies [Book Link], which analyzes the collapse of historical human societies in terms of increasing complexity and diminishing returns to complexity. For those who don't have the money or time to read the book, here is an interview he recently did with Jim Puplava at Financial Sense Newshour where he summarized the intriguing ideas presented in the book [FSN Interview]. I also wrote a short piece exploring a key relationship between complex human society and the complex atmospheric and ecosystems of our planet.

Quote:

     Tainter makes the point that all collapses in human societies have been triggered by declining supplies of stored solar energy and therefore the ability to maintain complexity through economic growth and central regulation/management. He effectively places all of human civilization under the dynamics of this process involving increasing net energy and complexity, maintenance of complexity through additional energy inputs and regulation, diminishing returns to complexity and decreasing net energy, and eventually rapid collapse and simplification. Those people familiar with Buzz Holling's fractal adaptive cycles in ecosystems, or who have read my essay "The Limits to Complexity" [Essay], will immediately see how this process reflects the first three phases of growth, conservation and release. I also believe the above dynamic can be viewed as one present in systems even larger than human societies, including our planetary's atmospheric system and biological ecosystems.

Full piece here - http://peakcomplexity.blogspot.com/2010/09/great-things-are-done-when-men-and.html

bluestone's picture
bluestone
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 29 2008
Posts: 263
Re: Complexity and Collapse

Ash

I enjoyed your articles and highly recommend Joseph Tainter's interview with Jim Puplava.   I also recommend Puplava's  interview with Nicole Foss from the prior weekend

Brian

julianj's picture
julianj
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 1 2008
Posts: 2
Re: Complexity and Collapse

Just one point - it is not a new book.  It was first published in 1990 and has since been acclaimed as a classic work.  I found it a little dry and hard going to read as it is aimed at an academic audience, but very thought-provoking.

Vanityfox451's picture
Vanityfox451
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 28 2008
Posts: 1636
Re: Complexity and Collapse
bluestone wrote:

Ash

I enjoyed your articles and highly recommend Joseph Tainter's interview with Jim Puplava.   I also recommend Puplava's  interview with Nicole Foss from the prior weekend

Brian

Hi Brian,

This is a link to a read online Google Books preview copy of - The Collapse of Complex Societies ~ by Joseph Tainter. It is linked from a post I created on the important Books Thread, and is complete with a worthy interview of the author also.

This is a link to the Joseph Tainter interview on Financial Sense Radio with Jim Puplava

This is a link to the Nicole Foss interview on Financial Sense radio with Jim Puplava

This is a link to the Important Books Thread Index

I hope you and other's find these links a useful distraction ...

Take Care,

~ VF ~

ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 21 2010
Posts: 412
Re: Complexity and Collapse

Brian,

I heard the Stoneleigh interview and she was on her game as usual. I especially liked when she talked about peak complexity and diminishing returns to complexity. I feel those concepts don't get enough attention as a central driver of the dynamics we are currently seeing, hence the blog I created.

Julian,

Thanks for the correction on when the book came out. I'm pretty amazed he was exploring these fundamental concepts 20 years ago! Its very prescient work and I'm not surprised it's getting a lot of attention now that the American empire is on the verge of collapse.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments