“An epic of urban formation followed by dusty abandonment looks menacing next to millions of years of hunting and gathering, as though settled societies are inherently unstable.”
— Steven Stoll. “Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America”. pp. 19
Does this explain the rise and fall of civilizations? Agriculture is inherently unstable; civilizations which depend upon agriculture (i.e. all of them) are inherently unstable? Humans take up too much responsibility, perhaps. We cannot care for the land well, and so we destroy it–and along with it, the organisms, including ourselves, who depend upon it. That does seem like a flawed system. And yet, at the same time, this flawed system has sustained itself for almost nine thousand years. What has it destroyed in an effort to maintain itself? We don’t know the depths of that question yet.