The first signs of decline are physical.
Citizens don’t grow as tall.
They don’t live as long.
They start killing each other in large numbers.
Sounds like the post-mortem for a society that disappeared long ago – a conclusion that archaeologists deliver after sifting through bone fragments and pottery shards.
Why – the puzzled scholars ask – did such a vibrant society which produced beautiful art and remarkable scientific advances fall apart so rapidly and leave so little behind in the unforgiving rainforest?
This time however, the diagnosis is being provided in real time.
And the society in decline is the most powerful country in the world.
According to the most recent global health surveys the United States is witnessing a decline in life expectancy for the first time in nearly a quarter century.
America is also the first high-income country to see its adults on average no longer growing taller.