An interesting piece, which I largely agree with. However I think the next in the cycle will be far worse than previous ones. This is only partly because of the tremendous killing power that we have in nuclear weapons.
In ecology there is a factor called ‘density dependency’. Essentially, populations of living things tend to expand to the limits of the environment to sustain them. As they approach that point, they become unstable. Large scale migration, if possible, often results. (Lemmings do not ‘throw themselves off cliffs’. They are just looking for new food resources and following the tail of the one in front — who is being pushed from behind. The inevitability of catastrophe, if you live where there are many cliffs, should be salutary.)
While it is true that the Earth could potentially support greater population in food terms the consequences of the existing population level is that Earth’s ability to sustain is being reduced rapidly. Many climate scientists now believe that Earth can, in the long term, only sustain a gross human population of 1 billion or so. That’s 7 billion less than there are now.
Climate change has already caused a massive and sustained drought in the Levant and this is one underlying cause of the problems there. There are two others, catastrophic Western foreign policy, and Islamist expansionism.
Unfortunately, these three factors — climate effects, historical political mistakes and a new religious fundamentalism — are identifiable in many other areas, notably Sub-Saharan Africa.
The instability and insecurity provoked by this gives dictators and demagogues leverage in their desire for control, and once they have it, war becomes more likely. The author could have added to his list the recently-elected President Duterte of the Philippines, who makes a fascinating, if worrying, case study.
In effect, we already have the global war the writer is talking about. While Brexit is extremely unlikely to happen except, possible in the most limited sense (and I doubt even that) the immigration crisis in Europe has already destabilised the continent.
The not-so-very far right in France is calling for a ‘French Gitmo’, the banning of Salafism as a terror organisation, the banning of foreign funding of mosques and the banning of any overtly Islamic clothing. This represents a significant escalation in the French response. It may be true that full civil war has not yet broken out (though I can assure you, it feels that way) but who would bet it will not? When it does, Europe will fully destabilise and set off a chain reaction, as the author suggests.
Then we might look at China and its claim of territorial rights over the Philippines Sea; Korea; the Middle East; mounting tension between India and China; the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan; and many others. If any one of these breaks out into full war, it will spread across the planet like wildfire as potentially billions of refugees flee.
The fact is, as the writer suggests, that we are living in the most dangerous period of history ever, partly because we have now the potential to eradicate a large section of the human race, and partly because there are so many crisis zones already breaking into flames. It’s just going to take one to set it off.
Tine to get used to the notion that the solution to the Fermi Paradox is one that we might find the hard way.