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Computation 2014, 2(3), 83-101; doi:10.3390/computation2030083

Cultural Collapse and System Survival Due to Environmental Modification

1
School of Physics, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK
2
UMR de Génétique Végétale du Moulon, INRA/CNRS/Univ Paris-Sud/AgroParisTech,Ferme du Moulon, Gif sur Yvette, France
3
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 136Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 19 June 2014 / Accepted: 25 June 2014 / Published: 29 July 2014
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Abstract

We consider a simple mathematical approach to the rise and fall of societies based on population growth and its effects on the environment, both beneficial and detrimental. We find that in any simple model of population dynamics with environmental coupling, stable cultures are impossible. Populations inevitably grow or decline exponentially. Further, if the parameters defining a civilisation are allowed to evolve towards an evolutionarily stable state, the only possible solutions are those where each culture ultimately declines. However, computer simulation with multiple competing cultures show that while each eventually collapses, some are always extant and the system is robust. In this broad class of models, individual death is a requirement for system survival.
Keywords: environment; feedback; civilisations; history; anthropology; prehistory environment; feedback; civilisations; history; anthropology; prehistory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ackland, G.J.; Henry, A.Y.M.; Williams, A.; Cohen, M.H. Cultural Collapse and System Survival Due to Environmental Modification. Computation 2014, 2, 83-101.

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