"Tragic failures become moral sins only if one should have known better from the outset. In that regard there are two big differences between us and eleventh-century Anasazi Indians: scientific understanding, and literacy. We know, and they didn't know, how to draw graphs that plot sustainable resource population as a function of resource harvesting rate. We can read about all the ecological disasters of the past; the Anasazi couldn't. Yet our generation continues to hunt whales and clear tropical rain forest as if no one had never hunted moas or cleared pinyon-juniper woodlands. The past was still a Golden Age of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful blindness.
From this point of view it's beyond understanding to see modern societies repeating the past's suicidal ecological mismanagment, with much more powerful tools of destruction in the hands of far more people. It's as if we hadn't already run that particular film many times before in human history, and as if we didn't know the inevitable outcome. Shelley's sonnet "Ozymandias" evokes Persepolis, Tikal, and Easter island equally well; perhaps it will someday evoke to others the ruins of our own civilization."
p. 337, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, © 1992, 2006. Jared Diamond.