Revolution Or Death: The Great Bifurcation

Civilizational Boom Or Bust

Andre Sevenius Nilsen
8 min readDec 26, 2021


Photo by Georgi Sariev on Unsplash

At the end of the 18th century global population was booming. This led the economist Thomas Malthus to predict a coming disaster, a ‘Malthusian crunch’, in which exponential population growth but linear agricultural growth, would lead to mass starvation, war, and collapse.

He was wrong.

The 2nd industrial revolution came to the rescue with mechanized agriculture and artificial fertilizer.

Now, scientists are predicting a new Malthusian disaster (e.g. 1, 2, 3). ‘Code red’ for humanity the latest IPCC report read, warning that climate change will cause untold misery by the end of the century. Others are drawing an even grimmer picture were the mantra is ‘faster than expected’.

I’ve written extensively on the idea that modern civilization is about to end (see here). To summarize, we are gunning for infinite growth in a finite environment. By borrowing from the future (fossil fuels primarily) we’re far above the natural carrying capacity of Earth. As a result, we’ve grown into a complex, intertwined, global civilization that consumes everything it touches.

The climate and ecological crisis is testament to that fact. But, complexity doesn’t come for free, and the debt we owe is staggering.

Soon we will have to pay the entropic bill.

Or to put it in simpler terms; life as we know it is about to end.

To better understand our predicament, it’s useful to look at one of the simplest life-forms out there.

The Virus

“You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.”
- Agent Smith, The Matrix

All organisms, virus or otherwise, will spread and eat until they hit a ceiling. That ceiling could be spatial constraints, limited food, predators, or even themselves as they destroy the habitat providing for them.

When the organism hits the ceiling, there are three options



Andre Sevenius Nilsen

Scientist by day, aspiring writer by night. Exploring the human condition 24/7. Futurologist in between.