Civilization as we know it is all about an advanced state of culture, government, science and industry – the opposite of a savage, unrefined or uneducated condition. It is presumed to include a plethora of modern comforts and conveniences made possible by science and technology. After a week of backpacking in the wilderness, or a few hours without an Internet connection, most of us welcome a return to civilization.
Pundits of diverse persuasion have used the potential end of CAWKI as a call to action. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said the end would come if the GOP took control of the Senate, but she was wrong (at least so far). A NASA study predicts the culprit will be a combination of resource depletion and unequal wealth allocation, and while that makes sense, it’s also a bit too early to confirm this as well. Science writer Mark Gibbs suggests it may end with a cough, which in this era of superbugs doesn’t sound too far-fetched. There is an endless supply of such threats to worry about, but before we can properly focus our anxiety, it helps to consider how we got to this point.
Historian Yuval Noah Harari has lately addressed the question of how we (Homo sapiens) evolved from a meh primate to the foremost power on planet Earth. Yuval describes our ascendance in terms of three somewhat novel revolutions- cognitive, agricultural and scientific. The fact is that we are able to do something that no other lifeform can – fabricate ideas that aren’t real and then use them as a basis for connecting with one another. <continue>