Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Short History of Progress :: Ronald Wright

This was a short punchy book. It reminded me of the thriftiness of word of Geoffrey Blainey and his 'Short history of ....." series. Whilst also having the warnings of global catastrophy of Tim Flannery. Yet with Flannery I sensed hope, while with Wright and 'A Short History of Progress' I was left with an impending feeling of doom and hopelessness.

Wright's book though is about civilisations and there downfalls. The basic premiss is that most fall due to environmental factors. Incredible growth in which the natural resources cannot keep up. His concern and I admit it mine as well is that we are facing the same problem as civilisations from the past but on a global scale. I like how he wrote that we are using the earth capital resources instead of living of the interest from the earth.

So, basically unless we start to change consumption patterns and move globally to a more sustainable way of doing things, it looks as if disaster awaits. Maybe not in my life time but certainly at some stage.

On a side note, it was interesting his delving into history and using the stories of Gilgamesh and that of Noah's ark. The floods came to the Tigris and Euphrates due to the deforestation of land around these rivers. The trees, forests acted as huge sponges that once gone changed the flow of the rivers. I suppose I knew about other stories of floods but not in as much detail. That the stories of Gilgamesh were older and the comparison to Noah are strikingly similar.

I spent a lot of time after finishing the book pondering about what will happen to humanity globally. I don't think it will be pretty. But what my hope is that each generation will consider how fragile life is on earth is and how lucky we are. A new reverence and care will be part of the human DNA for our habitat.


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