Civilizations are precarious. They seem remarkably permanent to the people who are living within them, but history has a long list of civilizations that have failed. Some were conquered. However most just extended themselves beyond their problem-solving capabilities until a combination of environmental stresses and internal failures eroded the viability of the structure that held them together.
Our present global civilization is a marvellous accomplishment for humanity, unprecedented in human history. Yet it is beginning to feel precarious because the corrective responses that are needed from us to address its stresses seem beyond our human capabilities. Some of these stresses feel overwhelming because of their immensity and complexity. Others feel overwhelming because they seem to exceed our ability to act collectively with resolve and persistence. The uncomfortable feeling we are getting is that the very success of a global civilization may contain the germ of its failure.
Continue reading The Quadra Project – Population
“History repeats itself,” wrote Karl Marx, the 19th century German philosopher and economist, “first as tragedy, second as farce.” Of course, he meant this politically, but it applies mythologically as well, a parallel that requires some explanation.
The most influential historical myth that has shaped Western civilization is the Genesis account of Creation. And, like every myth, this biblical story is a template which we have placed upon a raw reality to give order and structure to a mystery that must be made meaningful by interpretation. Today, our world of scientific objectivism requires this myth to be understood as being metaphorically rather than literally true. However, for nearly 3,000 years, it was understood as an unquestioned account of what actually took place. But, as anthropologists and mythologists now explain, the form and meaning of the story representing this myth was reshaped as the repeated retelling of it mixed with complex historical, psychological and sociological dynamics.
Continue reading The Quadra Project: Mythology Repeated
Planting a trillion trees would be a major contribution to solving our global climate change crisis, a remarkably simple solution since trees absorb and sequester the excess carbon from fossil fuels that we have been emitting into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.
Continue reading The Quadra Project: A Trillion Trees
The 1973 television series, The Ascent of Man, by the British mathematician and science historian, Jacob Bronowski, is approaching its 50th anniversary. Its intelligent commentary on the evolution of science in human civilization is still relevant today. However, events in the last few years have imbued Bronowski’s erudite praise of our scientific accomplishments with an unsettling irony.
Continue reading The Quadra Project: The Descent of Man
This year, 2022, marks the 50th anniversary of The Club of Rome’s 1972 publication of The Limits of Growth, a book that attempted to warn humanity about the consequences of excessive use of the world’s resources. The genesis of the idea came two years earlier from an Italian industrialist, Aurelio Peccei, who invited to Rome a group of scientists, businessmen, academics and diplomats to explore how they might address his concerns.
Continue reading The Quadra Project: The Club of Rome