Saturday, August 15, 2009

Contemplating “The Next Million Years” by Charles Galton Darwin

Editor’s note: Picking up my scrapbook of Dad’s The Argus Observes columns, I quickly thumbed through for a mid-summer page in hopes of finding something current. This column, his localization of a futuristic book by the grandson of “the” Charles Darwin, struck me as something I’d never read. For the last few years, I’ve become obsessed with what could happen to the earth – and of course the quality of life – of my grandchildren over the next fifty years. And I had fooled myself into thinking the problems we face snuck up on us mostly unappreciated from a resource standpoint until the last 30 years. Not so. Here I re-present Dad’s column, written in 1953 about a book published the year before. And following that I’ll post two relevant quotations from the lone review now posted on Amazon of the book, which is now priced upwards of $200 secondhand. By coincidence, the review just was posted August 11, three days ago, by a prolific Amazon reviewer who has become fascinated with the subject you’ll find mentioned in the except. And he can point you to other books about the coming of a “ruling elite,” if you are interested.

The Argus Observes – June 29, 1953
From the Ontario Argus-Observer of that date

Are we living in the future population center of the United States?

We may be according to an idea advanced in a new book, “The Next Million Years” written by Charles Galton Darwin. The author is a grandson of Charles Darwin whose “origin of Species” published almost a century ago advanced the theory of evolution completely changing scientific concepts and disturbing the theology of our grandfathers.

Today’s Darwin thinks it will be difficult for man to survive during the next million years. Population may outrun food supplies. And man’s supply of fuel may soon become exhausted with tragic consequences because the earth’s fuel is necessary not only to cook our food and keep us warm but also to power the industry of civilization.

Darwin estimates that the world’s oil will be gone in about one hundred years and its coal in five hundred years. Even if his estimates are much too pessimistic we will eventually consume both fuels, perhaps within one thousand or two thousand years.

It is different with water power, the one fuel that abounds in this region. To quote Darwin:

“Waterpower is the only really big present source of energy that can be counted as income and not capital; it derives its energy from sunlight through the evaporation of water in the ocean and its precipitation as rain on the mountain tops.”

He writes further:

“The general picture of the economic condition of the world then is that the chief centre of power production and so of the most elaborate civilization, will be in the regions where there is water power, that is, speaking rather loosely, mountainous regions. It will be these that are the centres of manufacture, and they will exchange their manufactures for the surplus food produced in agricultural regions.”

Thus within the next few centuries this intermountain farming, ranching and forest region may become filled with “centres of manufacture” and so become the industrial heard of the United States with this nation’s “most elaborate civilization” on the western slope of the Rockies.

Don’t waste your time dreaming about an oil strike that will boom this country; rest assured a more permanent boom is coming only you won’t be here to enjoy it.

However, Darwin is pessimistic about the future of the world. He says:

“Now we are living in or perhaps at the end of the golden age, which may well prove to have been the greatest golden age of all time.”

So we should enjoy this wonderful country today. It may be richer but less pleasant for our descendents living here 500 years from now.

HERE IS A RECENT DESCRIPTION OF some of the content “The Next Million Years,” taken from the Amazon customer review authored by G. Charles Steiner of San Franciso.

(Darwin’s grandson suggests that) “because these wealthy families, generation after generation, have proven themselves "successful" because of their consistent "success" through time, they, therefore, must be of superior intelligence and ability over the rest of mankind, and, concomitantly, these families, and the individual members of these families, alone are fit to be the elite and to rule over and control the rest of the human race….

“The author concludes, presciently as well, that China will be the civilization emblematic of the future the elite are planning as it not only has endured for century after century, longer than the Roman Empire, but the very way of life in China, socially crowded and politically cowed, is a good paradigm for what the future of the entire world shall broadly look like in the 21st century with its provinces, dynasties, and collectivism spearheaded under one central head or world government owned and run by future descendants of the Darwin family and other ‘successful’ families in addition.”

(Readers can find the full review posted at the book’s page on Amazon so I won’t bother to include a link here, which would likely have to be pasted into you browser, a long process than an Amazon search.)

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