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01-05-2012, 21:30   #16
slowburner
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Well yeah, they're all reasonably good monikers.

So what would be the consensus in naming our age?
I'd predict the 'Oil Ages'.

Although we'll probably have to wait for the next phase in our development. The various ages seem to be named in retrospect.
Sure it won't be long before the oil's gone, or we can't afford it.
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01-05-2012, 22:11   #17
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Interesting program on bbc4 now about the demise of the may an civilization


And yeah oil age is probably wht we,ll be remembered as
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01-05-2012, 23:08   #18
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Would you not think that this dereliction was the product of increased efficiency/mechanisation? The C.19th methods were highly labour intensive.
No. A lot was to do with sudden economic shocks that bankrupted businesses. The shocks can have a multiplying effect - where they just destroy and nothing comes in to fill the gaps in the market, because the market itself has been destroyed.

Increased efficiency and mechanisation doesn't destroy businesses. It means they can produce more for less.

Usually things happen smoother than people think. Despite the bull, Henry Ford did not invent the production line. They'd been going a long time before he was even born. And likewise, the car didn't put horse buggy makers out of business - if you look at early cars, you'll notice that they look a lot like horse buggies - and that is because that is what they were. The buggy manufactures simply put a petrol engine in their buggies. They didn't go out of business, they were doing more business than ever.

Some times there are convulsions. Like when someone realised you could make a better roof tile, by mixing cement, pouring it into moulds. Than chisleing and splitting slate at a quarry. That put tens of thousands of people in Ireland out of work very literally over night. But you could blame our culture of "backward is best" - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to think up a cement roof tile.


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I'm not disputing what you say about Ireland being industrially advanced around this period, but could you provide some background?
Much more advanced than southern Europe. And never forget, we live right next door to England - the leading nation in the industrial revolution.

Although history has been rewritten for political expediency. After the famine, the Irish economy grew, to the point, that by the end of the 19th century the country was relatively wealthy and industrialised. Then there was the first world war, and the economy didn't recover until the mid 90s.


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Thought provoking views.
They beg the question: are we too dependent on the web?
If a civilisation is recognised as the sum total of its technological advance, just as the stone, bronze, and iron ages were, then our civilisation now is the the internet age.
In the near future, books will be owned purely for sentimental reasons.
What would happen then, if computers stopped working?
The thing is....all the computers are not going to stop working at once. When the library of Alexandria was burned, there was only two to three copies of most of the books in it. Now, even more obscure titles, have a few hundred to a few thousand physical copies.

The general history of human civilisation, is civilisations rose, then crashed, and nearly everything was lost.
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02-05-2012, 18:08   #19
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The fall of the Roman empire was one of the biggest blips in human history. It wasn't until the renaissance Europe started to get back on track. The Italians couldn't figure out how the Romans had built their buildings. And the recipe for cement was lost right up to the start of the 20th century. Everything from plumbing to maths had to be relearned - rediscovered.




Rome vanished slowly. But it did vanish. Latin became a dead language. At one point I think the city and it's old buildings just became home to a few thousand squatters, with no trace of a city government.

Human History? Western European history I think you will find, The western Roman Empire might have fallen, but the Eastern Roman Empire survived for another thousand odd years, and by the time it fell it had been eclipsed by the muslim world anyway. The things that were lost to western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire were not lost to humanity, they were still alive and well in the East and were 'rediscovered' during the crucades.
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03-05-2012, 08:49   #20
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Did the Western Roman empire ever really fall, or did it just transform from a military empire into the Christian church?
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03-05-2012, 18:02   #21
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Thats a valid point, I was thinkin that meself, the Roman empire may have Waned a bit in the 5th to 10th centuries but it never really went away, just changed its method of dominance, however there was a lot of knowledge lost during that transition.

For a true Dissapearance event I would be more inclined to look at the Mayans or the Nubians of whom precious little solid information is known.
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27-07-2012, 15:39   #22
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Thats a valid point, I was thinkin that meself, the Roman empire may have Waned a bit in the 5th to 10th centuries but it never really went away, just changed its method of dominance, however there was a lot of knowledge lost during that transition.
The fall of the Roman Empire is one of those topics that's been debated and discussed for a long time. Gibbon blamed Christianity and a collapse in traditional Roman values for it, but there have been numerous other theories proffered, from environmental to economic.

One thing is certain, the Roman Empire was not some monolithic entity that collapsed in the fifth century AD. To begin with it went through numerous changes throughout its history; from kingdom, republic through to the two phases of empire (Principate and Dominate) and division between east and west - as someone correctly pointed out the Eastern half continued for another thousand years.

Latin changed too - the Classical Latin we (used to) learn in schools, was no longer the lingua franca of Rome by the time of Caesar and had already been replaced by Vulgar Latin (already well on it's way to becoming Italian). And religion too changed, from a polytheistic mesh, to monotheistic Christianity (while retaining many of the old polytheistic traditions - ever wonder why we pray to patron saints?).

In the end, both eastern and western empires declined fairly slowly as a result of numerous reasons, neither 'collapse' was overnight and the Turks and Germans only provided the final nail in the coffin.

Where it comes to the loss of knowledge, certainly much was lost (although the Byzantine empire retained it and we were eventually able to get it back through the Arabs). In the west this was further underlined by Christianity's rejection of this World for the next and promotion of a monastic response to the hubris of imperial power.

However, it would also be false to suggest that we slipped back technologically during the dark or middle ages either. Much knowledge was lost, but it was also arguably also more advanced period, with numerous agricultural and military innovations that were beyond classical science.

But returning to the original question:
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Did the romans, the greeks, the incas, etc, ever consider that their empires, their civilisations would fall? did they ever make any allowances for that risk?
Yes - and no.

Rome changed beyond recognition between it's founding to the fall of the Western Empire (over a thousand years) and even during the imperial period adapted and changed constantly. Problem is that it was not able to adapt enough thoughout and thus ended up, ultimately fatally, susceptible to those factors that brought it down.

The Maya, Aztec, Inca and other pre-Colombian civilizations also changed and adapted, but were unable to adapt quickly enough to the drastic and sudden change that eventually came (the pre-Colombian bit giving away what that shock to the system was).

The Chinese empire too essentially collapsed for these reasons. Once leading the World in terms of civilization and technology, its capacity to evolve and adapt had ground to a halt - arguably influenced by the conservative nature of Confucianism that had long given it stability. Conversely, Japan's capacity to evolve and adapt went into overdrive in the nineteenth century, leading to a reversal of fortunes where Japan (that had long been susceptible to Chinese invasion), was able to invade China for a change.

Pretty much the same can be said for the Eastern (Greek) Roman empire. And (pre-Macedonian) Persian empire. And Egypt. Or the French Ancien Régime. Or the European Belle Époque. Or Sumeria.

Societies and empires evolve and adapt to deal with differing realities and threats. If they do not, or do so incorrectly or too slowly, then they become vulnerable to external or internal events - be they natural, man-made or both. And if those events occur while the society or empire is vulnerable, then that is when the house of cards is likely to fall.
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27-07-2012, 16:09   #23
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Great post, The Corinthian.

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and then i consider ourselves? have we as a civilisation of the 21st century ever really considered our own downfall? (we're talking total obliteration of society and massive reduction in population making us an endangered species). Have we made any allowances for this occuring? Could we? I suppose im thinking about a planet wide cataclysm rather than a disease outbreak, but thats possible too.
To depart slightly from the current topic of discussion, there's another avenue of discourse that raises some interesting questions and problems. How do we preserve information for our future descendants? Can we maintain our body of knowledge in such a fashion that it will be useful and useable to our posterity--in case of a cataclysm, or otherwise? This topic came up in another forum several years ago. Such a discussion is probably not entirely suited to this forum, but perhaps some of you who've taken part in this thread would find it interesting nonetheless.
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01-08-2012, 05:39   #24
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and then i consider ourselves? have we as a civilisation of the 21st century ever really considered our own downfall? (we're talking total obliteration of society and massive reduction in population making us an endangered species). Have we made any allowances for this occuring? Could we? I suppose im thinking about a planet wide cataclysm rather than a disease outbreak, but thats possible too.
\

I'd imagine the biggest threat to our civilisation at the moment are countries which don't practice democracy and freedom of speech.

So to answer your question OP I think the west has anticipated its own downfall and it is one of the reasons why it has been so influencial in removing the likes of the TAliban, Hussein and Gaddaffi from power since they control a large portion of the world's oil supply. Could you imagine the west becoming subservient to these countries that pass religious doctrine off as fact?
We all know how these countries essentially end up. Its just a case of history repeating itself.
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07-08-2012, 15:54   #25
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Could you imagine the west becoming subservient to these countries that pass religious doctrine off as fact?
America is turning into that.
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07-08-2012, 16:18   #26
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I'd imagine the biggest threat to our civilisation at the moment are countries which don't practice democracy and freedom of speech.
You've been encouraged to imagine that by decades of propaganda.

IMO The real threat to our civilization is the limited resources we have to share with the billions of people in the developing world who are joining our civilization. It only works at all because there are so few of us enjoying this standard of living.
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07-08-2012, 16:25   #27
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You could make an argument that while the Empire fell, Roman civilisation remains with us, through forms of government, language, laws, calendars, alphabet etc. You could equally extrapolate that, through their influence on Rome, Greek civilisation persists.
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07-08-2012, 17:44   #28
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You've been encouraged to imagine that by decades of propaganda.
Very true. Think about it, why are countries which don't practice democracy and freedom of speech such a threat to us? The democratic peace theory would argue that democracies don't go to war with each other, ergo it is logical to fear undemocratic countries that may do so.

However, this is a debatable theory, that ignores for example that the country with arguably best enshrined right to free speech, the USA, has gone to war dozens of times without any legitimate provocation - originally under the banner of 'manifest destiny' and later 'freedom'. Meanwhile, how many wars has Iran started?

All presuming we have free speech, because that's a relative term. We may be horrified at the reaction of some Muslim countries at the Mohamed cartoons, but how do you think they feel about our reaction when our own sacred cows, like the Holocaust, are questioned?

Democratic countries that have liberal laws on free speech are often less likely to go to war, but most evidence that despot or democrat, belligerence is more often decided by Realpolitik.
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IMO The real threat to our civilization is the limited resources we have to share with the billions of people in the developing world who are joining our civilization. It only works at all because there are so few of us enjoying this standard of living.
As with Rome, I don't think there is any single 'threat', just a lot of little ones that combined would act against us adapting quickly enough in the face of adversity should it come.

For this you need to consider potential shocks to the system, be it a World War, ecological disaster, economic meltdown, alien invasion, pandemic or a combination of any of these. Could we adapt in time? And if not, what do you think would happen to our civilization?
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You could make an argument that while the Empire fell, Roman civilisation remains with us, through forms of government, language, laws, calendars, alphabet etc.
Rome is the most obvious example, but by means not the only one. Echoes of Sumerian culture persist, for example, our use of twelve to count hours, 60 to count minutes and 360 for degrees (Sumerian numerology was based on a base-60 counting system). Indeed, the agricultural revolution that began in (amongst other places) in the 'fertile crescent' where Sumeria was situated, is still the basis of all urban civilization.
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You could equally extrapolate that, through their influence on Rome, Greek civilisation persists.
The following is OT and debatable, however Greek influence on Rome, and thus its influence on modern society, is quite possibly down to Crassus' failed (and fatal) Parthian campaign. Had he succeeded, and Pathia became a Roman province, the influence of Pathian culture and commerce would likely have eclipsed Hellinisitc culture and commerce.
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08-08-2012, 07:42   #29
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You've been encouraged to imagine that by decades of propaganda.

IMO The real threat to our civilization is the limited resources we have to share with the billions of people in the developing world who are joining our civilization. It only works at all because there are so few of us enjoying this standard of living.
Tbh I think there is a bit of truth in it. When the worlds supply of oil becomes scarce, countries in the middle east will become increasingly wealthy making them more influencial on the political scene. As the west becomes more dependant on the middle east for oil, the middle east will be in a position where they can dictate to the west how they should live. It would be a bit like the United States today telling the rest of the world how to live only the roles reversed.

Howver the big difference between what the United States does today and what the middle east has the potential of doing in the future is that democracy and freedom of speech has a proven track record of creating stability when fundamentalist/authoritarian governments don't. That is the reason why they are the biggest threat to civilization.
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08-08-2012, 09:48   #30
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I agree with Paky.
The dependence of the west on oil and oil based materials, has made it decidedly vulnerable in the global 'balance' of power.
The current 'balance', can only be retained by new, significant discoveries of oil resources under western control, or by alternative technologies.
I think neither is likely in either sufficient volume, or timescale.

One way or the other, there are massive changes ahead, and I don't think the west is ready.
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