How Systems Collapse
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted July 13, 2018

systemic collapseThis is how systems collapse: faith in the visible surface of abundance reigns supreme, and the fragility of the buffers goes unnoticed.

I often discuss systems and systemic collapse. The key concepts here are stability and buffers. Though complex systems are never static, but they can be stable: that is, they ebb and flow within relatively stable boundaries supported by reserves, i.e. buffers.

In ecosystems, this ebb and flow is expressed in feedback loops between the weather, environment and plant/animal species which inhabit the ecosystem. Ideal weather/food conditions may spark a rise in an insect population, for example, which then enables an increase in insect-predator populations (fish, birds, frogs, etc.) which then increases the consumption of the insects and reduces the impact of the higher insect population. More…