Ancient Pollution

Kenneth Gauck (C558382@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Mon, 26 Sep 1994 14:31:16 CDT

The population of Gaul (France) has been estimated at 20 million. Italy at
30 million (including 1 million in Rome itself). The whole of the Roman
empire may have included 100 million persons. The new social and economic
unity of the two centuries straddeling the begining of the common era
can be likened to the unity of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. The growth of wealth, and therefore demand, may have caused a
new phenomena: global distribution of pollution. But is that evidence that
the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, or Babalonians did something wrong; or are
we wittnessing the price of innovation: unintended consequences. Certainly
no one would blame a culture for attempting to seccure new techniques or
spread prosperity from the few to the many, and the fact that unintended
consequences are the inevitable fallout of innovation is nothing we are not
all familiar with.

However, armmed as we are with a certain knowledge of the harmfull effects of
industrialization, would we not be grossly negligent to ignore the development
in the third and fourth world? To follow the harmfull practices of the past
must surely be more foolish than to have discovered them. What good will it
do to condemn the 100 million citizens of the Roman Empire to the margin.
It may even have the unintended effect of offering encouragement to those
who would pollute today. Is our aim to improve our lot, or condemn our
ideological enemies (even if they are long dead). Perhaps whe should damn
the myriad cultures who independently invented agriculture. Ulitmately,
its all their fault.

Kenneth Gauck