The somewhat reassuring news is Official Rip Karl Lagerfeld Shirt that collapse metrics are not the entire picture. Societal resilience may be able to delay or prevent collapse. For example, globally “economic diversity” a measurement of the diversity and sophistication of country exports is greater today than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, as measured by the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).
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Nations are, on average, less reliant on single types of exports than they once were. For example, a nation that had diversified beyond only exporting agricultural products would be more likely to weather ecological degradation or the loss of trading partners. The ECI also measures the knowledge-intensity of exports. More skilled populations may have a greater capacity to respond to crises as they arise.
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Similarly, innovation, as measured by per capita patent applications, is also rising. In theory, a civilisation might be less vulnerable to collapse if new technologies can mitigate pressures such as climate change. It’s also possible that “collapse” can happen without violent catastrophe. As Rachel Nuwer wrote on BBC Future in 2017, “in some cases, civilizations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper”.
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As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal. By then medicine may have extended the average lifespan, and at 86, perhaps she’ll only be on the Official Rip Karl Lagerfeld Shirt cusp of retirement. Avoiding the creation of dangerous and widely-accessible technologies is also critical.