3. Ingenuity and Inertia

Price of ProgressEscaping the progress trap - chapter 3: This chapter reviews the earliest instances of ingenuity in higher primates. It considers tools and farming, and whether ingenuity and civilization grew out of curiosity or necessity. The price of progress is that life is less meaningful. With advanced societies the experience of feeling alive vanishes and compensations have been devised, from pyramids to symphonies to alcohol. Absolute scientific positivism emerges, along with strict intellectual specialization.

2. Hostile environments

Progress- curse or blessingEscaping the progress trap, chapter 2: Science creates complex factors such as pollution related disease, or climate change. Subjugating nature is part of man's culture, but while science has given us powers for dominating nature, it has created new forces that we cannot easily overcome.

1. They saw it coming

Progress and emotional intelligenceEscaping the progress trap, chapter 1: The book is introduced in terms of one ecologist's observation regarding environmental degradation: "they saw it coming but had not the wit to stop it happening". It prepares the reader for a wide-ranging synthesis of knowledge from history, anthropology, neurology, and other sources. It explains how the historical record is a virtual laboratory for this study since the variables are too numerous for isolation in any actual laboratory. In finding out where we have been, we can tell where we are headed.

What it takes to end an environmental crisis

Progress Trap - health crisisCholera in London, 1858
It takes hardship, observation, data, and in the case of London's cholera epidemic - a stench from the River Thames so foul that Parliament ceased functioning. The next order of business was for the members of Parliament to quickly enact legislation ordering the overhaul of London's sewerage system.

Pentagon accepts climate change (2010)

solar tent"Climate change is happening, and there is a large amount of evidence that this is in fact man-made...Climate change is a certainty" - Rear Admiral David Tetley, Oceanographer, US Navy

Science, technology and the danger of populism (racism)

Progress Trap - middle eastIn 2007, this progress trap project drew attention to the flaws of science and technology, especially with regard to the environment. Stephen Hawking's 2016 concession: “Most of the threats we face come from the progress we’ve made in science and technology" confirmed that the book's argument had merit, and predictive value.

"A powerful analysis of our situation"

This book shows how societies and individuals can be victims of their own success, often unconscious of the effects of ingenuity on their environment. When changes are man-made and harmful, a downward spiral begins: development that excludes solutions to problems that arise from development.

Progress Trap - the book
The book is available at
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"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)

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