Factors Leading to The Collapse of Past Societies

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At present day, our worldwide civilization of the human race continues to surpass many achievements of other past societies. Everyday, new technological advances are being achieved and the population is growing faster than it ever previously has. We must look back at past civilizations and analyze them to understand what is in store for us in the future. In the pursuit of progress, human societies create problems they do not have the resources or political motivation to solve, for fear of short term losses in status or quality of life, which prevents further advancements and sometimes leads to collapse.1 Three factors that have enabled past civilizations to fall into progress traps and ultimately contributed to the collapse of those societies are social conflicts, ecological depletion, and overpopulation. In terms of social conflicts, past civilizations have been enabled to fall into a progress trap through many forms of social strife. Firstly, the Classic Maya civilization had seen many social struggles. The Mayans were very intellectually competent, however, there was a tremendous scramble for power and resources. Mayan society was competitive amongst its city-states, each wanting to grow and expand. The Mayan city of Copan began as a small village beside a river, and was a harmless settlement at first. As it grew, it built over more and more of its fertile land due the growing need for prosperity. As a direct consequence, farmers were forced to relocate up onto fragile soils where the land had previously been cleared away of its timber. As well, a considerable amount of silt had washed down the hillside that most of the city, including whole houses and streets, were completely buried. The city fell victim to its own success... ... middle of paper ... ...pse of those societies. For fear of short term losses in stability, past civilizations did not change their destructive practices and ways of life, which ultimately lead to their collapses. Although it was too late for past civilizations to escape their progress traps, it is not too late for our worldwide civilization today. We have an advantage over the past civilizations previously discussed. Since we know about these past societies, we can learn from them and take action to change our way of life. With the increasing knowledge and motivation we have to solve today’s problems, there is hope. In the end, it is entirely up to us. Whether we sit back and let history repeat itself, in what appears to be, a never-ending cycle of societal collapses, or if we take action and strive to continue our legacy of being the most prosperous yet sustainable civilization to date.

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