Population Collapse and Global Awakening

Will Franks
Phoenix Collective
Published in
8 min readAug 25, 2022


Map of Global Population Density

We are fast approaching a unprecedented point in modern history: the point where the global death rate exceeds the global birth rate, and the world population begins to decline.

In an age of increasing resource scarcity, this decline is going to be steady, drawn-out — and for most of us, incredibly painful. This article is going to unpack some of the lesser-discussed effects of this massive existential crisis on our collective evolution. They are not all bad.

It appears that climate and ecological breakdown are driving humanity towards a series of profound psychological, social, spiritual breakthroughs. If you come to this article looking to make sense of these chaotic times, read on.

According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), no less than half of the world’s population are “highly vulnerable” to the effects of climate change. That’s almost four billion people. Highly vulnerable.

Peak population has been predicted by the UN to level-off at around 10.4 billion in 2086. However, this estimate has no doubt been calculated using predictive models that are conservative and averse to the accelerating and compounding effects of systemic collapse.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation places peak population a little earlier, around 2065. Different research bodies are making different predictions; there is no consensus agreement.

But what you’ll find, if you search “world population graphs”, that only a small number show the period after the peak: only the most honest researchers will present the downhill population curve after the peak. Nobody wants to publicly say we are facing a population crash. It’s a cultural taboo. And a dangerous one — it pulls the cover over the stark reality of the future we’re currently facing, actually making it more likely.

Population crash isn’t certainty, by any means. But that it is currently the most likely scenario seems very clear from the alarming state of current climate science.

Source: Nature

I personally suspect that peak population is going to come much sooner, within 30 years or so. But that’s just an estimate, based off of writing like this piece by Umair Haque. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

The important point is that, by our best estimates, peak population is now matter of when, not if. It’s coming — and soon.

It is clear that we are now facing devastating economic, ecological and societal collapse within a matter of decades. Some regions are already crumbling, and others have been ravished irreversibly. The rest of this article is going to unpack some of the lesser-discussed but profoundly significant effects of this unprecedented global scenario.

What is less discussed in the public sphere is that as these pressures intensify, we are also experiencing a psychological and spiritual collapse.

We are being forced to give up our entrenched ways of being — all the myriad ways that we conceive of and relate to ourselves as separate to each other, separate to our living planet, separate to the universe itself. We are collectively undergoing a fundamental shift in how we experience ourselves; in our understanding of who and what we are. Now this is where, despite everything, we actually find an opening. A ray of light. A way forward through the chaos and the darkness.

There is a subtle but immensely powerful wave of conscious awakening that is moving through the collective human psyche. It began long ago in the depths of the collective unconscious, has been gestating for millenia, and now it is breaking through into our awareness, changing how we see, feel and experience. The convulsions we are collectively experiencing are like the labour pains of a global birth, as humanity — all our errors and limitations, all our gifts and achievements — is dragged kicking and screaming into the blazing light of consciousness. In that light we see, undeniably, that we live as one immensely intelligent unified field of life-energy. We belong to this field, and always have done. We are coming home to our fundamental interconnectivity, ending the nightmare of separation that has dominated the Western worldview for the past several thousand years.

This opening to a different way of being cannot come at a more desperate time. This is no timely coincidence but a direct effect of compounding evolutionary pressures upon our newly globalised species.

The impending threat of our self-extinction and the viscerally felt pain of global destruction and desolation is beginning to drive home — like a freight train — the undeniable fact of our fundamental global unity. Our total interdependence and seamless inseparability.

When rainforests die, when the pollinators needed to grow your food supplies die, when people in your country die, you can no longer pretend that you are unaffected by these events. Because this stuff hurts. It cuts deep, it tears us apart, it breaks our hearts open. We can no longer pretend that we are not fundamentally connected to one another, and to all life on earth. We are being forced into an expanded sense of being that encompasses the experiences, sufferings, and losses of all beings. By this view, our collective suffering is the thread that is leading us home to our inherent oneness with all life.

The human heart-body-mind complex is an incredible thing: such an exquisite receiver of subtle signals that it can become attuned to its energetic interconnectivity with all other earthly lifeforms. Aligned with the creative evolutionary intention of the entire planet.

We awaken from the dream of isolation to find ourselves embedded in the global matrix of life and consciousness — a creative intelligence we might call Gaia.

And then we awaken again, into an even deeper and vaster dream: the divine dream of the creative intelligence of the cosmos itself. A unified field of awareness that embraces the entire cosmos, that is the entire cosmos — and even realms beyond spacetime itself. This process of awakening continues into infinite fields of light, of consciousness, to which we may tentatively ascribe the qualities of inconceivable love, openness, intelligence and creativity.

But, back here on Earth: when crops won’t grow, when shelves are empty, when our country goes to war over water and gas supplies, when vital medicines and fuels are unavailable — what then? Panic, no doubt. Meltdown. Chaos.

The global situation is dark indeed. Billions are going to starve, billions more be displaced from their homes and forced to make perilous journeys in search of more fortunate regions. They may not find any.

The suffering we are about to collectively experience is quite literally unthinkable. We cannot “get our heads round it”, as the saying goes.

This unthinkability is itself a clue to the transformation we are undergoing: that we are in the process of dying to our old way of explaining and rationalising the events of our lives, and dropping down into our hearts, bodies, and a deeper and more visceral sense of being human. We are being forced into a collective realisation of our sameness and our unity by an inescapable confrontation with our vulnerability, our mortality, and our interdependence. By suffering we are being drawn into a more vital and energised mode of embodied consciousness.

When you’re staring death in the face, you feel more alive. When you’re working in a tight-knit community to survive, you feel totally together and connected to those people.When your entire biosphere is experiencing catastrophe, you are forced to remember your oneness with that biosphere.

Through an acute confrontation with our limitations, we are going to gain such a painful awareness of these limitations that, just maybe, we will be able to transcend them altogether. Chris Bache describes this as “the collective collapse of the experience of living in isolation. A falling away of feeling separate from everything, separate from each other and separate from the universe itself.”

Isn’t that what we are longing for?

Just imagine what might happen if, en masse, we let go of living exclusively for ourselves and our immediate relations, and instead decided to live for the whole. For the flourishing of all life. If we wholeheartedly gifted ourselves to the collective good. If we chose to express and embody our solidarity with all worldly suffering, our unity with all living beings. And if, together, we began to experience ourselves as the whole…

Just as we are being squarely faced with the redundancy of our worldview of existential separation, with the inoperability of an ego-centric mode of consciousness, we are also being given an invitation to a new mode of embodied consciousness characterised by wholeness, openness, vitality, and creativity. Not to mention love. Deep, universal, unconditional.

Despite everything, the trials of global collapse can be understood as an initiation into a higher order of being: an invitation for us to open into a global field of awareness that integrates all human experience into one hyper-intelligent being. A “minded world”, as Olaf Stapledon described them in his visionary novel Star Maker.

Through a highly networked matrix of individuated human consciousnesses, the global brain is now awakening to her innate self-consciousness. That global awakening is experienced by us as an ongoing series of awakenings to our unity and togetherness, our freedom, our universality, our divinity…

Love is the movement of consciousness towards this state of ever-greater global wholeness as we integrate more and more ways of being (in other words, more and more beings), into our own being… until we remember that, oh yes, of course, I AM THE EARTH, and WE ARE THE UNIVERSAL BEING HERSELF!

My spirit is the spirit of humanity.

My soul is the soul of the world.

My creativity is the creativity of the cosmos.

We are being invited to remember our unity and identity with an Infinite Divine Consciousness, within our embodied human experience, here on Earth!

What was once the domain the of a few eccentric mystics is rapidly becoming an open possibility for the entire human species. This unprecedented evolutionary breakthrough puts the whole global crisis into context. It might just be the underlying reason for the crisis; a chance to shed our limitations and step forth into a new age.

There will be less people on the planet, yes, but the level of consciousness that these people inhabit is going to be very different, too. What we will do, create and experience from these vastly expanded modes of consciousness, we can scarcely conceive.

The Age of Global Awakening is upon us. Like it or not, friend, we’re in this together.



Will Franks
Phoenix Collective

freedom artist. magical realist. metamodern beat.