Astrobiology—the search for alien life—suggests a lesson for us here on earth: Civilization may not be sustainable over geological eras but, rather, self-destroying.
Research into the impact of climate change on early society reveals a connection between environmental stress and the collapse of civilizations.
The first attempt to measure the volume of stuff created by humankind reveals that it is at least 100,000 times heavier than the global human population.
Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker’s 2011 book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” has convinced many people that humanity has steadily become less violent in the recent past. English philosopher John Gray argues that Pinker merely sees what he wants in trends and statistics.
A description of the lives of Polynesian islanders in Melville's book "Typee" shows that the inhumanities of capitalism visible today and constantly attacked by Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges were plainly recognized in American literature of the mid-19th century.
After Roman legions invaded Egypt, during one of the battles waged by Julius Caesar against the brother of Cleopatra, fire devoured most of the thousands upon thousands of papyrus scrolls in the Library of Alexandria. A pair of millennia later, during George W. Bush’s crusade against an imaginary enemy in Iraq, most of the books in the Library of Baghdad were reduced to ashes.
Sure, it behooved our Neolithic ancestors to band together and form proto-civilizations for many reasons, but one main motivation, according to archaeologist Patrick McGovern -- who works, and we kid you not, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum's Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health -- was the time-honored pursuit of alcoholic intoxication.