Last Updated on August 5, 2015

Some months ago I heard the last part of a lecture series given by Ronald Wright that was broadcast on radio. It was quite fascinating.

The gist of what I heard was that his extensive research indicated that the primary cause behind the downfall of all great civilisations was over use of environmental resources. He gave some very compelling evidence and interesting historical data. Essentially it would seem we have learnt nothing in this regard from our ancestors and hence we are heading down exactly the same path.

Check out the book or the lectures at:
House of Anansi Press : titles

[amazon_image id=”0786715472″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]A Short History of Progress[/amazon_image]A Short History of Progress

By Ronald Wright

Each time history repeats itself, so it’s said, the price goes up. The twentieth century was a time of runaway growth in human population, consumption, and technology, placing a colossal load on all natural systems, especially earth, air, and water–the very elements of life.

The most urgent questions of the twenty-first century are: where will this growth lead? can it be consolidated or sustained? and what kind of world is our present bequeathing to our future?

In A Short History of Progress Ronald Wright argues that our modern predicament is as old as civilization, a 10,000-year experiment we have participated in but seldom controlled. Only by understanding the patterns of triumph and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age can we recognize the experiment’s inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.

“I don’t care if you have never and will never read any kind of book at all, but you must read this one. If you can’t read, pay someone to read it to you. . . In prose that is balefully evocative and irreducibly precise, Wright is in effect reading us our rights, giving us our options. This is Wright’s Riot Act. . .This wise, timely and brilliant book will be a bulwark against the short-sighted and the self-interested, and may also ironically save them from themselves.”
– The Globe and Mail

“The Massey Lectures series has weighed in, once again, with a provocative and timely exploration of important ideas. Ronald Wright, one of this country’s intellectual treasures, brings his background in archaeology, history, and comparative culture to bear on the loaded question of progress, and whether it is a good or a bad thing. . .Of course, and not to keep readers in suspense, the answer is both . . .Wright notes that the economic interdependence of the world today means that collapse, if and when it comes again, will be global. Ideology of any sort – Islamic, Christian, Marxist, or market fundamentalist – will push us all the faster toward that collapse. Only “moderation and the precautionary principle” can save us. . .Now if this excellent book could only be made required reading at the White House and on Capitol Hill in Washington . . .”
– Quill & Quire

“[Robert Wright] is a hard-nosed thinker, a literate and provocative presenter.”
– Winnipeg Free Press