by Greg Krehbiel on 29 May 2012
Maybe I’m weird, but I find this funny.
I have no doubt at all that the rise and fall of many, many civilizations was due to climate change. If the bison follow a certain route every year, or the barley harvest comes every fall, or the salmon swarm up the river every Spring, people get used to it and build cities and commerce and laws around it. Then when it all changes, things fall apart.
Things change. That’s the way it is. Which is why I’m not particularly bothered by a national agriculture policy that encourages diversity. It doesn’t bother me that farmers are being paid to pour milk down the drain if it’s all part of a plan to ensure a stable food supply. The free market is great for many things, but it’s not necessarily good at forcing us to plan for contingencies.
(Along those lines, I understand that our food supply is dangerously un-diverse.)
The reason I find the story about the Indus people funny is I have this vague recollection of scare stories from the past about civilizations that fell for whatever the crisis du jour was. I’m sure the prohibitionists had tales of societies falling from demon rum, and I definitely recall stories from the 70s about civilizations falling from abusing the environment.
Not that those things can’t happen. They do, and we should take reasonable warning. But what we should really be looking out for are the causes of collapse that aren’t trendy. If the country falls, I’m sure it will be because we’re all hot and bothered about A, but we’re not paying any attention to B.
We’ll be all concerned about climate change and the national debt and an asteroid hitting the earth, but society will fall apart because of undisciplined teen-age boys, or a precipitous drop in the birth rate, or something like that.
(DSM, this is your chance to plug the virtue of monarchies.)
-- 2012-05-29 » Greg Krehbiel