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The simple answer is that cultural accumulation depends on leisure, on division of labour and of persistence of cultural memory - not just in the sense of information being around with lack of bit-rot or paper damage, but in the sense that there exist individuals who have the time, skills, and resources to access it, use it successfully, and expand it.

Climate change has the potential to stress these factors.

Cultural accumulation isn't an inevitability. Of the million or so years of human habitation, it wasn't until a 2-4 millennia ago (depending who you ask) that it became a significant influence. And it's only in the last few centuries that it became a very significant influence.

Without it, humans default to monkey tribalisms, which seems to have been the state of things for most of recorded history, and most of the time before that too.

(See also Republicans in the US.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 12:39:49 PM EST
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Thanks. Not that I agree with it (for what that's worth), but I can see your point.
by Jace on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 01:32:39 PM EST
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Since the majority of us are not mind-readers, would you please describe what you mean by adoption, and how we would accomplish such?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 06:17:09 PM EST
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That's something for a future diary but think in military terms: light and mobile versus heavy and stationary.
by Jace on Mon May 9th, 2011 at 09:16:28 PM EST
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... that went before, it may have been that the cultural accumulation of the previous two to four millennium wouldn't have had a platform to stand on.

Technological progress works primarily by the recombination of existing technologies, and so its intrinsically more of an exponential process than a linear process. People looking for a linear "rate of progress" are of course going to retrodict back to a period "when basically nothing is changing", even if technological progress is occurring at the same exponential rate, because its occurring over generations rather than years, while in addition, the further back in time we are looking, the less complete our picture of the technology and institutions in use.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 11:54:22 AM EST
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Have you seen Stuart Kauffman's model of economic innovation in his book At Home in the Universe?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 16th, 2011 at 04:20:41 AM EST
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