I read this book a few months ago at the recommendation of an old friend and I wanted to pass along the recommendation here:

A Short History of Progress Kindle Edition
by Ronald Wright (Author)

I don't know that much about anthropology, archaeology or the general history of the development of human societies, this book, from what little I could tell, seemed to take me through major points and offered a disconcerting hypothesis as to "progress traps"..... i.e.: quite often in history, humans have tended to engage in innovation which at first seemed to help their communities and societies but which in the end seemed to lead to some level of dead-end for their communities and societies.

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How about a few examples of progress traps.

Reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on Monday

How about a few examples of progress traps.

Hi Ruth:

I don't think I'd do a very effective job if I try to go by my memory, but I"ll just grab a few quotes from my kindle edition, and hopefully that will be sufficient:

So, nuclear weaponry seems to be one example:

The atomic bomb, a logical progression from the arrow and the bullet, became the first technology to threaten our whole species with extinction. It is what I call a "progress trap." But much simpler technologies have also seduced and ruined societies in the past, even back in the Stone Age.

Ronald Wright. A Short History of Progress (Kindle Locations 264-266). Kindle Edition.

Hunting our food to extinction (he does a decent job of laying out some evidence, but I am just grabbing a quote):

So among the things we need to know about ourselves is that the Upper Palaeolithic period, which may well have begun in genocide, ended with an all-you-can-kill wildlife barbecue. The perfection of hunting spelled the end of hunting as a way of life. Easy meat meant more babies. More babies meant more hunters. More hunters, sooner or later, meant less game. Most of the great human migrations across the world at this time must have been driven by want, as we bankrupted the land with our moveable feasts.

Ronald Wright. A Short History of Progress (Kindle Locations 350-353). Kindle Edition.

just grabbing some things quickly, but this appears maybe to be another claimed example:

Because Rome was a literate society, we know of such woes as they affected higher levels of the human pyramid. mid. But beneath the ills of the body politic lay a steady degradation of the natural pyramid that sustained the whole enterprise. Archaeological work in Italy and Spain has revealed severe erosion corresponding to high levels of agricultural activity during imperial times, followed by population collapse and abandonment until the late Middle Ages."

Ronald Wright. A Short History of Progress (Kindle Locations 801-803). Kindle Edition.




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