Modeling the End of the World as We Know It

Popular images of “The End of the World as We Know It” generally center around nuclear war and other conflicts, invasions, pandemics, judgement for societal failings, overexploitation of the environment, and natural and unnatural disasters. Using complex systems science, I argue that the convergence of increasing over-exploitation of environmental resources, rising instabilities in the societal-environmental coupled system, and more frequent and expanding resistance movements will combine to grind the current societal system to a halt, triggering a global-scale bifurcation (The End). I present an agent-based model that includes resource- based economy dependent on extraction, technological development, the ecological and environmental effects of extraction, the resulting injustices andcommunities engaged in resistance against these injustices, robustly leading toward an End. I conclude with a discussion of the timing for the bifurcation, dynamical behaviors as the bifurcation is approached and what we can know about what lies beyond.