What ancient civilisations teach the modern world about sustainability


“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”

                                    — Edmund Burke


Indeed!  Here is a collection of videos that show how and why some civilisations have soared and fallen. While theories abound in explaining these, we can see an underlying thread of resource overuse beyond sustainable realms, leading societies to an eventual state of demise. If modern civilisation were to survive as we know it today, we must be humble enough to understand and learn from the foibles of those who have trodden before us, however distant in the past.


VIDEO 1:  Alexandra Cousteau describes an alternative theory to the commonly held view of the decline of ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA ; that of invasion by enemies.



VIDEO 2:  The oft quoted example of EASTER ISLAND, POLYNESIA, PACIFIC OCEAN as the ultimate symbol of local resource exploitation

nazca-spiderVIDEO 3: The NAZCA CIVILISATION, PERU is well known for the mysterious carvings in the desert of animals and birds of gigantic proportions which are clearly visible from air.  One well know theory behind their disappearance is that a big El-Nino storm hit them circa AD 500, but Discovery News reported that it might well be due to their cutting down of the forest of Huarango trees. Devoid of the forest to stabilise the soil and protect them from El-Nino, the area soon became a desert. A similar situation is now occuring in the south of Peru.


VIDEO 4:  The little known civilisation called MOCHE  Northern PERU existed around 2000 years ago. Remnants of the gigantic mud brick pyramids they built remain to this day, as do the elaborate aqueducts that help them survive the desert environment by transporting water. But having created a successful civilisation in the middle of a desert, what led to their downfall? Scientists try to unearth the mystery.  

Watch Parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the program


VIDEO 5: JARED DIAMOND’s explanation of his five point framework for why societies collapse and what we can do to prevent it.


What about Modern Civilisation…well, that’s us!  Michael Pollard gives a brilliant visual protrayal of the ”Timeline for Civilisation’s Collapse” with three underlying crises, namely, the Economic and Political crisis, Energy Crisis and the Ecological Crisis in order.



collapsetimeline dave pollard



If you have links to other similar stories from ancient history, do feel free to share.

Is all lost then? Are we in the brink of civilisation collapse from which there is no return?  In the next part, I’ll outline where the hope lies, and the models to restructure civilisation.


Short URL: http://www.ecowalkthetalk.com/blog/?p=1186

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Posted by on Mar 27 2010. Filed under Sustainable Growth/Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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