Solar Age

A "New Age" or "Age of Enlightenment" or "Information Age" or "Solar Age" is the next logical step in our social evolution. This prediction is based on our past history and our present needs.
To see our future let's first  go back in time 

SPECIES                                           TIME PERIOD

Ardipithicus ramidus                        5 to 4 million years ago

Australopithecus anamensis            4.2 to 3.9 million years ago

Australopithecus afarensis              4 to 2.7 million years ago

Australopithecus africanus              3 to 2 million years ago

Australopithecus robustus               2.2 to 1.6 million years ago

Homo habilis                                     2.2 to 1.6 million years ago

Homo erectus                                   2.0 to 0.4 million years ago

Homo sapiens archaic                      400 to 200 thousand years ago

Homo sapiens neandertalensis        200 to 30 thousand years ago

Homo sapiens sapiens                      200 thousand years ago to present  

 

Species survive by adapting to a changing environment.  The evolutionary process of adaptation is slow and tedious and often unnecessary. Mutations occur weather they are needed or not. If environmental conditions remain the same mutations will be ignored unless they are beneficial. Stressful conditions such as a changing climate provide the atmosphere for evolutionary transformation. When our ancestors were finally forced to come down from the trees and walk upright they were at a disadvantage compared to the saber tooth tiger and other fierce mammals that lived 5 million years ago. Walking upright, grasping objects, and hunting were skills that had to be learned so an increase in cranial capacity was a favorable adaptation that led to our proliferation. 

In warmer and wetter times, huge forests abounded across Africa. Both the ancient primates and felines were widespread. Then the climate changed. Forests dwindled. Patches of forests became isolated, causing animal interchange to become quite difficult. In most such patches, both primate and feline survived. The shortage of food, perhaps growing worse daily, drove some of the primates to the forest floor in search of food. There they became food for the cats. Life was too grim and short for a new ground dwelling primate species to develop.

But somewhere there was an unusual valley, one completely isolated from all the others where the cat population was low.  Perhaps the valley was too small  to support a large cat population, but large enough to support  primates. Or, more likely, the small valley was over-harvested by the cats to the point that only the primates, safe, high in the trees, survived, and the cat was starved out of existence. The primate in that valley was then able to spread safely to the forest floor. The walking ape was born. The original primate species still ruled the forest canopy, while a newly evolved species dominated the dominated the forest floor. From this humble species we evolved.

Ages of Man

 

Since the "ages" are a measurement of humankind's development, the dates are different in Europe and the Americas. The first person to divide human history into a Stone Age, a Bronze Age and and Iron Age was Titus Lucretius Carus (LUCRETIUS), a Roman philosopher and poet (about 95-55 BC), but the following outline will provide a general outline of human history.

Stone Age: A period from two million years ago until 4,000 BC in Europe, the earliest of three prehistoric periods, when stone tools and and stone weapons were used.

Old Stone Age: (2,000,000 - 13,000 BC). Chipped stone tools were first used, and hunting and gathering were common. This was the era of Cro-Magnon man in France, and the source of wall paintings. 

Middle Stone Age (13,000 BC - 8,000BC) when the weather was more clement and food became more readily available  the first agricultural villages developed.
 
New Stone Age: ( 6,000 BC - 3,000 BC) in Europe and western Asia. From the Greek neos ("new") and lithos ("stone"). The Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age, refers to the second part of the stone age, and represents the time when stone and horn tools were refined by grinding and polishing. During this period there was also the beginning of pottery and some use of copper. Man also first tamed wild animals, used the wheel, weaved, and cultivated crops. 

Bronze Age: 1500 BC in Europe when most tools and weapons were made of bronze, succeeding the earlier stone or copper implements. During this time, agricultural villages evolved into townships. Animals were used for riding and for pulling wheeled vehicles, and trading and shipping began. The plough was developed, along with writing and arithmetic, and men became specialized in their jobs.

Iron Age: Around 1000 BC in southern Europe, and later in northern Europe.

Solar Age:   ???   A future era that will hopefully begin soon.

You may not see a logical  progression of a "Solar Age" from an "Iron Age". Most anthropologist would say we are still in the Iron Age. Our industrial world, our military and even our great buildings are built on a frame of iron. Some scientist would say we live live in the "Silicone Age" since our modern electronic world depends so much on the metal silicone. Without silicone all the computers, cell phones, bar code scanners and data banks that depend on silicone chips would be impossible. Other scientists say we live in an "Oil Age" because more than 90% of the energy used to run our civilized world comes from oil. All these arguments make sense to me as a matter of fact I'd say "Iron Age" and "Silicone Age" and "Oil Age" could all be used to describe our present era. Perhaps this method of introducing the concept of a "Solar Age" is a bit contrived but I had hoped it would place what I believe to be a monumental sociological transformation in historical context. All life forms are capable of adapting to environmental change through the process of evolution. The problem is that evolution is a slow process and I'm concerned that we may not be able to adjust in time to adapt.

TRANSITION: We are running out of oil. In the last 100 years Homo sapiens have consumed half the earth's non-renewable, liquid, supply of fossil fuel. At the present rate of production we have enough oil to last only another 40 years. The problem is that the demand for oil is increasing every day and the technology needed to extract the dwindling supply of oil at a reasonable rate is limited. Future generations are facing a world without oil. How will we adjust to the limited supply of oil and the increasing costs of transportation, home heating and  products made from petroleum? The transition from dependence on a non-renewable energy concentrate to independence on a renewable, diffuse source of energy will be difficult. Oil corporations, manufacturing industries and transportation businesses will suffer as the supply of "liquid gold" diminishes. What would life be like in a world without oil

SOLAR AGE: In a "Solar Age" I believe small business will thrive because transportation costs among other things will be excessive. What you know will finally have more value than who you know. Small energy independent communities will spring up across the country. Alternatives to big business will become more popular in the future. Innovative renewable energy applications will be developed. Small farms now facing bankruptcy will become prized possessions for those seeking a haven in energy independent communities. I believe a "Solar Age" will be our next logical era. People will have more time to learn, discover create and think. We have evolved as creatures capable of thought and now we'll have the time to take conscious control over our own social evolution? It's unfortunate that inexpensive petroleum products now available will not be available in a ''solar age" but I'm sure that thoughtful people will find a way to work around that problem. 

 

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A few additional sources about human evolution:  
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/humans/index.html
http://www.peoplefinders.com/article-archaeological-finds-of-early-humans.aspx
http://anthro.palomar.edu/primate/prim_8.htm
http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/index.html
http://www.evotutor.org/