Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Second Coming (of Civilization)

by Richard Crews
The point is sometimes made that even if civilization crumbles under the weight of the impending global food, water, and energy catastrophes--even if "we" are set back a thousand years or more--surely our descendants will rise again. It would just be a matter of time.

But the rise of civilization over the past 10,000 years--with its accompanying plodding advance of justice and human dignity, and at last even reverence for life and respect for our mothering Earth and its ecosystems--has depended on readily available natural resources. The oil, iron, and copper that lay on the surface were essential in advancing our forebears from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age. It was only with the development of further technologies which these readily available resources allowed that our ancestors learned to dig and drill for more of them.

These have been used up--along with phosphates, radioactive ores, and a dozen other commodities that are essential for advancing technologies. If and when our civilization is driven back into barbarism (where looting ones neighbors was a major source of wealth) and slavery (which was a major pre-industrial source of energy), our descendants will not have access to many of the raw materials that were essential for our ancestors to advance.