Factoring together economic, sociopolitical, technological, biological, ecological, historical, cultural, and evolutionary influences, the Human Survival Index Project conducted by the Life Science Institute has concluded that human society has only a 42 percent chance of surviving until the end of the century.
The Human Survival Index is based on computer modeling of factors influencing the "quality and perseverance of civlization," based on historical, geopolitical, and biological data. Dr. Dennis Lee Foster, the project's author, said, "In addition to critical factors considered by previous studies, such as resource depletion and economic disparity, by adding present-day stresses such as religion-based terrorism, mass migration, racial division, antibiotic-resistant micro-organsms, continued nuclear and autonomous weapons development, and geopolitical strife to the equation, the probability of societal collapse before the end of the century increases dramatically." No comparable confluence of related influences has ever occurred during recent human history, according to Dr. Foster.
The Life Science Institute study is slightly more optimistic than the study of the "Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies" by University of Maryland researchers, which warns of the possible collapse of civilization as we know it within 50 years. Analyzing five risk factors for societal collapse--population, climate, water, agriculture and energy--the researchers discovered that all such collapses over the past 5,000 years occurred when two phenomena occurred: "stretching of resources" due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity, and extreme unequal economic distribution between the rich ("Elites") and everyone else ("Commoners").
Prior to societal collapses, the "Elite" population restricts the flow of resources accessible to the "Commoners", in the process of accumulating a surplus of resources. This restriction, in turn, strains natural resources. The eventual outcome is famine, followed by the breakdown of the society due to over-consumption of natural resources. Technological advancements may temporarily spike the efficiency of resource consumption, but also raise both per-capita consumption and the scale of resource extraction. In time, the increased depletion of resources negates the benefits of increased efficiency. In short, the impact of technology makes societal collapse even more likely. Humans presently use more resources than the earth can replenish, and the planet's distribution of resources among the human population is massively unequal.