A matter of perspectives

“Forests precede civilizations and deserts follow them”

Have you ever wondered why the ‘Promise Land’ or Mesopotamia with its famed abundance is a desolate dry land today spotted with shrubs in between vast areas of rocks and sand? And what about North-Africa the bread basket of the Roman Empire? Greece? Italy? Where are the best soils of the ‘fertile crescent’? The answer could not be more blunt or sobering: under the sea. Clear cutting forests and intensive farming did the job: after the trees have been removed the once heavy rains in those areas washed the soil into the rivers and carried them to the bottom of the nearest sea. After soils have been eroded these civilizations had no more surplus energy from grains — needed to maintain their military and social complexity. Some experimented with expansion (taking over the land of neighboring nations, destroying them then moving on), but this proved to be temporary solution only. Growth never can be maintained long enough on a finite land — and planet. Back to Europe: it was mostly unpopulated and covered with vast old-growth forests. The Romans did not have the time and means to conquer it all and after their collapse (triggered by resource depletion and complexity) most of it was still pristine wilderness. In the meantime in the Americas halfway around the planet half-a-dozen another civilization rose and fall (all experimenting with agriculture based expansion) without having the slightest idea what’s happening on the other side of the ocean. From their perspective we could have been living on another planet.

“The goal of action is always contemplation — knowing and being rather than seeking and becoming.”

Until the next time,

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A critic of modern times - offering ideas for honest contemplation.