Civilization Has Always Been Collapsing for Somebody

While the Apocalypse Is Relative, Humanity’s Pursuit of Technology Perpetually Creates and Defuses Existential Threats

The question of whether civilization is on the verge of collapse may be as old as civilization itself.

This enduring query brought together a group of panelists that moderator Edan Lepucki called “the most interesting dinner party I’ve ever been invited to” for a Zócalo/Getty event before an overflow crowd at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Lepucki, author of the post-apocalyptic novel California, stressed that addressing the event’s title question—”Is Civilization on the Verge of Collapse?”—starts with defining what type of civilization we are talking about. One panelist, …

The Ancient Maya Cosmology of Conservation

In Their Worldview, Humans Were Not Superior to Nature. They Were But One Element Needed to Maintain Universal Balance.

In the middle of the jungle in central Belize excavating an ancient Maya water temple, I’m at the edge of a sacred pool, praying to Chahk, the Maya rain god, …

How Fishing Created Civilization

From Nile River Catfish to Anchovies in the Andes, Great Empires Were Built on Harvesting the Sea

Of the three ancient ways of obtaining food—hunting, plant foraging, and fishing—only the last remained important after the development of agriculture and livestock raising in Southwest Asia some 12,000 years …