Hindsight is 20-20 and the past often appears black and white. But for anyone living in the now, the future always appears to be a grey zone, where choices today may produce unexpected results tomorrow.
The most likely short term collapse scenario that I can envision is similar to what was described in Lessons From Argentina's Economic Collapse (PDF). That would be a financial implosion so drastic that it basically either collapses central government or leaves central government so ineffective that it might as well not exist, at least in terms of providing services. The least likely short term collapse scenario that I can envision is global thermonuclear war. But saying it is the least likely doesn't mean you should ignore it. It simply means that an extraordinary number of conditions would have to line up in the short term for that to occur.
Preface: I recently decided to write about collapse scenarios in response to a really bad article over at TOD. But as I began working through how to present this problem, I realized that it was far too large for one article and might need several of its own. So watch for more articles on the general topic of collapse scenarios over the next few months. This first article addresses the flaws in the article that I recently read over at TOD.
One of the problems with the recent Coming Chaos? Maybe Not article at TOD began with horrendous assumptions. Among those assumptions is the time worn cliche that "doomers" are preparing for "Mad Max" and nobody can survive "Mad Max". Here's the opening statement from that article: "A sizable subset of what some on this site call “doomers” are convinced that the demise of the petroleum economy will bring social breakdown and a violent struggle of all against all." Such a blatant strawman should never have been put in any article by anyone seriously researching the "doomer" community, yet the Coming Chaos? Maybe Not article began with that assumption then attempted to disprove it when it wasn't even valid!