Comments Off

With wit and erudition, Ronald Wright lays out a-convincing case that history to the Roman Empire, A Short History of Progress dissects the cyclical nature of. A Short History of Progress. by Ronald Wright. The Massey Lectures series has weighed in, once again, with a provocative and timely exploration of important. He presented a series of five lectures, titled A Short History of Progress. In , Wright's presentation was published as a short book, and it.


Author: Gage Toy
Country: Angola
Language: English
Genre: Education
Published: 14 March 2015
Pages: 201
PDF File Size: 6.91 Mb
ePub File Size: 5.49 Mb
ISBN: 804-2-83550-951-7
Downloads: 41650
Price: Free
Uploader: Gage Toy


In Sumer, a large irrigation system, as well as over-grazing, land clearing, and lime-burning led to desertification and soil salination.

The 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, "A Short History of Progress"

The lesson I read in the past is this: Anthropologist Joseph Tainter 's explanation for the fall of the Roman Empire is invoked, that "complex systems inevitably succumb to diminishing returns" so that the costs of operating an empire are so high that alternatives are implemented.

Two examples of civilisations that have been sustainable are described: Both had an abundance of resources, particularly short history of progressand used farming methods that worked with, rather than against, natural cycles, and settlement patterns that did not exceed, or permanently damage, the carrying capacity of the local environment.

The final chapter, "The Rebellion of the Tools", seeks to answer the final Gauguin question, 'where are we going?

Wright sees needed reforms being blocked by vested interests who reject multi-lateral organisationsand support laissez-faire economics and transfers of power short history of progress corporations as leading to the social and environmental degradations short history of progress led to the collapse of previous civilisations.

Necessary reforms are, in Wright's view, being blocked by vested interests who are hostile to change, including American market extremists.

A Short History of Progress | Quill and Quire

Wright concludes that "our present behaviour is typical of failed societies at the zenith of their greed and arrogance" and calls for a shift towards long-term thinking: This raises the key question of the twenty-first century: First the cultivation of wheat was abandoned, then barley.

Populations became too high, then shrank to nothing. The costs of running and defending short history of progress empire became so burdensome in Rome that debasement of the currency took place.

There is, perhaps, an inherent human inability short history of progress foresee long-range consequences. This may explain quite a lot of what we see in the news. Wright contends that progress traps led to overpopulation and agrarian failure for several ancient civilizations.

Today we have many potential progress traps confronting us; biotechnology, genetically modified foods, nanotechnology, geoengineering, and infinite economic growth, to name a few.

A Short History of Progress - Ronald Wright - Google книги

Fossil fuel dependence and the associated carbon emissions may be the highest profile progress trap in the news today. The fatal defects of agriculture and civilization are old news for short history of progress folks who have been paying attention. Wright thinks the truth is more complicated.


What makes this book unique and provocative is his notion of progress traps. Short history of progress benefits of innovation often encourage society to live in a new way, while burning the bridges behind them as they advance.

Like today, we know that the temporary bubble of cheap energy is about over, and our entire way of life is dependent on cheap energy.

Book Review - A Short History of Progress | Sustainability Television

Some types of progress do not disrupt the balance of the ecosystem, like using a rock to crack nuts. But our ability to stand upright freed our hands for working with tools and weapons, which launched a million year process of experimentation and innovation short history of progress gradually snowballed over time.

We tend to assume that during the long era of hunting and gathering our ancestors were as mindful as the few hunting cultures short history of progress managed to survive on the fringes into the twentieth century. But in earlier eras, when big game was abundant, wise stewardship was not mandatory.

Sloppy tribes could survive — for a while.