“Some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future, says Rachel Nuwer”
By: Rachel Nuwer
Published: BBC, 18 April 2017, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse
Level of Difficulty: ***
BEFORE YOU READ
· Why societies collapse | Jared Diamond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IESYMFtLIis
· The Roman Style Collapse of Western Civilization https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAkx_6mujoE
· The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0zacaIard0
1. We understand from the text that economic stagnation can be hugely detrimental as: Mark the answer that doesn’t fit
· The basic tenets of civilized society would be endangered
· Societies would become more protectionist
· The wheels would not be spinning
· Societies would engineer their own demise
2. According to Motesharrei, the fact that half the world’s population lives on less than 3 dollars a day should set warning bells ringing because it will set off a chain reaction where …
3. Look back at Motesharrei’s findings concerning ecological strain and economic stratification. What general conclusion can we draw from the explanations?
4. What does the phrase “those decisions” in the sentence “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions” refer to?
5. Looking at the current situation of the world, one would assume that people would be frantic to reduce inequality and preserve the world’s resources but they are not. This is because … Be careful and select the best answer.
6. Read this short text before continuing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/30/newsid_2547000/2547587.stm Syria is described as the canary of the coal mine because:
· It will feel the effects of the collapse first
· It will serve as a warning of dangers to come
· The country has collapsed into civil war
· Large numbers of people are unemployed
· There are pre-existing ethnic tensions
7. The story of Syria’s collapse is best compared to a stroke of fate / a chain reaction/ a vicious cycle because … (Use your own words)
8. Watch the following video before you continue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcWoR9i-GvA Now read the story of the Roman Empire. Which sentence best summarizes the first mistake they made?
9. What was the consequence of the above mistake?
10. The reaction to the upheavals made the situation of the Empire worse because….
11. Look back at the whole paragraph. The Visigoths would not have succeeded in their mission if The Romans…
12. What is the take home point from the case of The Roman Empire? Tweak the text
13. What does “this” refer to in the phrase “Tainter suspects this will not always be the case”? Rewrite the sentence to eliminate “this”.
14. Read the description of the current trends in Europe. The rise of protectionism, the desire to withdraw from the EU and similar policies reflect a desire to …… in order to delay societal collapse.
15. Read on until the end of the text and answer the following questions.
· Societal collapse will likely come about in one of two ways in the West. Societies may either….. or….
· The former will be unavoidable because the growing tendency to cling to their in group identity will provide ……………….
· Western Societies will lose the democratic values and moral principles they hold dear due mainly to the sharp rise of…
· Societal collapse is not a foregone conclusion though and can be avoided if people become…
Write an essay in which you discuss whether a Roman style collapse of Western Society is a real danger and what can be done to prevent it. While doing so, refer back to the text and the videos you have watched
HOW WESTERN CIVILIZATION COULD COLLAPSE KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This relatively straightforward text covers a very complex topic: the potential collapse of Western Civilization. The text is very well written a draws parallels to the collapse of Rome and modern day Syria . As such there should be plenty of room for discussion before the writing task.
2. The working population will crash because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labor.
3. If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable
4. The decision to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which…
5. It is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual.
6. The second (The question cannot be answered if the extra text is not read)
7. A chain reaction / possible answer one event triggered another
8. They were overtaxing themselves and running up costs
9. Civil war and invasions
10. The army ate up its budget and inflation climbed ever higher
11. Had stopped at the Mediterranean and expanded to new frontiers by land
12. Fiscal weakness not war does countries in
13. Western societies will not always be able to postpone the precipitators of collapse.
14. Retract people and resources back to their core homelands
15. Meet a violent end or fade out of existence / the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence / inequity /more cooperative, more generous and more open to reason