Joseph Tainter talks Energy, Collapse, and Society (2015)

Climate State

Published on Apr 13, 2017

Joseph Tainter USU Scholar spoke in Venezuela, Tainter was a keynote speaker for the South American country’s CCS Forum 2015: How to Build the Desired City (Oct. 19-23 in Caracas).

“We face many of the same changes as ancient civilizations,” he says. “The question is whether or not we’ll be able to introduce technological innovations that allow us to withstand these threats and adapt to change.”

Is our society on the verge of collapse?

Tainter’s short answer is no, at least not imminently, but it’s not a question he dismisses lightly. The professor in USU’s Department of Environment and Society and the USU Ecology Center has devoted his career to the study of what’s caused some of the world’s great civilizations, including the Roman Empire, to implode. His 1988 book, The Collapse of Complex Societies, remains a definitive work on societal collapse.

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