The activity of the earth’s outer crust is curiously much like a lot
of human activity --- both have often unexpected bursts which
accumulate under their surfaces and suddenly appear. Volcanoes,
in nature and in civilization, take a long time to form, but in a
instant can dramatically change their environments.
There is always some geological activity, and always a dynamic to
human civilizations, but there are moments in each when there is an
intensification of forces which can signal coming drama and change.
There are, of course, major differences between geology and
humanity. Perhaps most notably, there is a distinction in duration.
The earth’s crust has existed for millions of years following the
planet’s birth as a roving fireball. The earth is a very tiny entity not
only in its solar system, but even more so in our own galaxy and the
seemingly endless number of galaxies in what is so vaguely
verbalized as ”the universe.” The numbers involved quickly go
beyond any true human understanding.
Humanity has been accumulating some interesting numbers of
its own --- particularly in the numbers of world population and in
the numbers of generations since “history” began about 10,000
years ago, and even more since our humanoid forbears appeared so
much longer a time before settlement and language created what we
Much has been made recently about unusual activity above ground
in the atmosphere where hurricanes, floods. droughts, extreme heat
and cold, and all the dynamics of climate occur. A debate rages
about what are their causes, whether they are inevitable and natural
or human-made, and what (if anything) can be done about them.
But what about bursts of earthquakes, moving geological fault lines,
erupting volcanos and other activities from the earth’s core? And
what about bursts of revolutionary human activity, intensification of
technological change, and altered generational perception?
The former is way above my intellectual pay scale, so I can only note
the phenomena --- and leave meaningful understanding (if any is
possible) to our best scientific minds and imaginations. The latter
might also be beyond our understanding, but at least it can be
discussed in a language we all try to speak.
In recent times, every 40-50 years has brought some kind of intense
global human change in the form of notable national revolutions,
major and widespread wars, and extreme economic cycles.
Just as we have seen large clusters of tornadoes in certain regions,
melting ice at one pole and freezing at the other, unusual activity in
the earth’s geological plates both on land and beneath the oceans, etc.,
so there seems a cluster of extraordinary human activity all over
Those with an ideological “axe to grind” suggest, of course, a
self-serving meaning to these phenomena. For example, those
opposed to democratic capitalism assert history is on their side.
(They, of course, pretend the collapse of Soviet communism, the
failure of socialist states, and just recently, the rebuke to a would-be
dictator by the voters in Turkey, didn’t happen.) Those opposed to
totalitarianism, on the other hand, try to ignore the reappearance of
dictators, violent suppression, intolerance and terrorism.
Just as in the decades after the turn to the 20th century, the 1930’s and
the 1960s and 70s, signals and omens are everywhere seen.
Alas, we do no have a Richter Scale, or any other device, to reliably
tell us what will happen next.
Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.