That is, unless civilization is ready for one of two "major policy changes": inequality must be "greatly reduced" or population growth must be "strictly controlled."
The study starts by reducing human civilization into four easy-to-toggle factors: Elites, Commoners, nature and wealth. The paper explains that this was done because "ecological strain" and "economic stratification" are the only two things that consistently plague collapsing societies.
The model was then configured to calculate the fate of several types of societies, including the "unequal society," a system of rich and poor that researchers dubbed the one most "closely reflecting the reality of our world today."
In the first scenario the population of elites suddenly spikes after 750 years, causing a "scarcity of workers" that sounds the civilization's death knell by year 1000.
The second, "full collapse" scenario has the elites and commoners irreparably eating up the Earth's resources after 350 years, leading to a slow bleed that destroys both humans and the planet by year 500.
"It is important to note that in both of these scenarios, the Elites — due to their wealth — do not suffer the detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners," reads the paper.
Its clear that if we can't remove poverty, we must remove the poor itself.