Curating Content To Support Learning About Humanity's Transition

Posts tagged with:  Rethinking Disruptions in History

By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 30 Jun 22

For most of human history, it was not routine for people to brush their teeth. But by the 1960s, majorities of most Western countries had a daily oral hygiene routine. Because oral hygiene is so central to wider health, the mainstreaming of dental care had a huge impact on the global disease burden, reducing the risks and prevalence of diabetes, respiratory infections, death from pneumonia and heart disease. The humble toothbrush played a key role in improving global health and quality of life. But the mainstreaming of toothbrushing took place quite quickly, over just a few decades before and shortly …

Dropping Silk Stockings Created an Oral Health Revolution (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 7) Read More »

For most of human history, it was not routine for people to brush their teeth. But by the 1960s, majorities of most Western countries had a daily oral hygiene routine. Because oral hygiene is so central to wider health, the mainstreaming of dental care had a huge impact on the global disease burden, reducing the risks and prevalence of diabetes, …

Dropping Silk Stockings Created an Oral Health Revolution (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 7) Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 25 Apr 22

Images from Unsplash by Spencer Davis and Avel Chuklanov   The basics of life – energy, minerals, water, food – are not evenly distributed around the world, so peace and prosperity depend strongly on the ability to move goods and people quickly and cheaply. That’s how a seemingly obscure technology revolution starting in the mid-1950s created the foundations for the international trade on which the modern economy depends today – in the process dramatically reducing the risk of famines. With the world on the brink of another global food crisis, this is a story with crucial lessons for our times …

The Shipping Container Disruption Helped End Famines (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 6) Read More »

Images from Unsplash by Spencer Davis and Avel Chuklanov   The basics of life – energy, minerals, water, food – are not evenly distributed around the world, so peace and prosperity depend strongly on the ability to move goods and people quickly and cheaply. That’s how a seemingly obscure technology revolution starting in the mid-1950s created the foundations for the …

The Shipping Container Disruption Helped End Famines (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 6) Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 24 Mar 22

A global food crisis is looming, with high natural gas prices driving up the cost of ammonia fertilizer and the war in Ukraine threatening this year’s crops from both there and Russia. The consequences of mishandling this crisis could be dire. Research by complexity theorist Yaneer Bar-Yam suggests that high food prices are directly connected to riots. High food prices precipitated the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’, the 2007 Mexican ‘tortilla riots’, and numerous other incidents of unrest. Now we might be on the cusp of a new wave of chaos if we are not able to manage the global supply. To …

The Coming Global Fertilizer Crisis – and How to Solve it (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 5) Read More »

A global food crisis is looming, with high natural gas prices driving up the cost of ammonia fertilizer and the war in Ukraine threatening this year’s crops from both there and Russia. The consequences of mishandling this crisis could be dire. Research by complexity theorist Yaneer Bar-Yam suggests that high food prices are directly connected to riots. High food prices …

The Coming Global Fertilizer Crisis – and How to Solve it (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 5) Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 7 Mar 22

Fence in the colours of the national flag of Ukraine, photo by Tina Hartung on Unsplash We are now at a crossroads in history, and no path forward looks pleasant. The war in Ukraine is killing innocent civilians, disrupting lives, and shaking the markets in energy, food and other commodities, making us wonder how we let ourselves become so complacent in trading with Russia, whose government has shown such little respect for the rights of its neighbors and its own citizens. The obvious path seems to be to boost oil, gas, coal, food and metals production from friendly countries. Cut …

The Disruption of Slavery Unveils Fastest Path to End Today’s Wars (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 4) Read More »

Fence in the colours of the national flag of Ukraine, photo by Tina Hartung on Unsplash We are now at a crossroads in history, and no path forward looks pleasant. The war in Ukraine is killing innocent civilians, disrupting lives, and shaking the markets in energy, food and other commodities, making us wonder how we let ourselves become so complacent …

The Disruption of Slavery Unveils Fastest Path to End Today’s Wars (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 4) Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 23 Feb 22

  When people figure out how to do something that previously only nature had done, this new technology can completely transform the possibility space for a sector while making old ways of doing things obsolete – and all in a surprisingly short period of time. While the time can be very long between when an idea is first dreamt up and when its first practical demonstration appears, the time between the first practical demonstration and the idea becoming  commonplace can be quite abrupt.   Flight – from mythology to reality Cave paintings suggest that human beings have long imagined being …

How Synthetic Industries Replaced Natural Sources and Transformed the World (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 3) Read More »

  When people figure out how to do something that previously only nature had done, this new technology can completely transform the possibility space for a sector while making old ways of doing things obsolete – and all in a surprisingly short period of time. While the time can be very long between when an idea is first dreamt up …

How Synthetic Industries Replaced Natural Sources and Transformed the World (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 3) Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 17 Feb 22

Europe is amid an energy crisis of epic proportions, with a shortage in the supply of fossil fuels causing painfully high energy prices. And today, French President Macron wants to revitalize nuclear to solve this challenge. But if you understand the pattern of disruption, you will see why this might not be so straightforward. When it comes to energy crises, I’m not just talking about today – I’m also talking about OPEC’s 1973 oil embargo, which sent fuel prices soaring. In its aftermath, French Prime Minister Pierre Messmer announced a proposal, the ‘Messmer Plan’, whose intention was to get France’s …

France is Forgetting the Most Powerful Force in the Universe (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 2) Read More »

Europe is amid an energy crisis of epic proportions, with a shortage in the supply of fossil fuels causing painfully high energy prices. And today, French President Macron wants to revitalize nuclear to solve this challenge. But if you understand the pattern of disruption, you will see why this might not be so straightforward. When it comes to energy crises, …

France is Forgetting the Most Powerful Force in the Universe (The Pattern of Disruption, Part 2) Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 10 Feb 22

The first in a new series about how the ‘pattern of disruption’ explains how our societies and economies change and evolve, and where they might be heading. It’s often assumed that ‘disruption’ is a uniquely modern phenomenon. But it’s not. Technology disruptions can be found at the heart of major societal and civilizational upheavals going back to even the earliest human settlements. At RethinkX, we’ve discovered that the rapid and transformative adoption of new technologies – and with them new ideas, new behaviors, and new business models – has followed a repeatable pattern for at least hundreds of years, maybe …

The Pattern of Disruption Read More »

The first in a new series about how the ‘pattern of disruption’ explains how our societies and economies change and evolve, and where they might be heading. It’s often assumed that ‘disruption’ is a uniquely modern phenomenon. But it’s not. Technology disruptions can be found at the heart of major societal and civilizational upheavals going back to even the earliest …

The Pattern of Disruption Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 6 Jan 21

What do the marmalade you put on your toast and the vitamin you perhaps take at the same time have in common? Both have an ingredient called citric acid, an ubiquitous, weak organic acid. Indeed, citric acid is the molecule that led to the technology which enabled the mass production of penicillin. Citric acid is a naturally occurring molecule found most concentrated, as the name might suggest, in citrus fruit. Today citric acid is a commodity chemical produced and consumed throughout the world, across a range of industries. As an antioxidant and acidifier it can be used to preserve and …

The Fermentation Led Disruption of Citric Acid Read More »

What do the marmalade you put on your toast and the vitamin you perhaps take at the same time have in common? Both have an ingredient called citric acid, an ubiquitous, weak organic acid. Indeed, citric acid is the molecule that led to the technology which enabled the mass production of penicillin. Citric acid is a naturally occurring molecule found …

The Fermentation Led Disruption of Citric Acid Read More »


By: The Posts Author | Posted on: 6 Oct 20

Public perception can be a fickle thing. Behaviours, products, practices and technologies go in and out of favour all the time, and over the years, the morals and values of the majority change. Social acceptance of homosexuality, women voting, or racial integration was once deemed unimaginable but is now ubiquitous – a social license was granted. On the flip side, some practices that were once perfectly reasonable like smoking indoors, drinking alcohol while driving or allowing dogs to poop in the middle of the sidewalk now seem shocking, ridiculous and are no longer socially acceptable – the social license was …

The Social License Read More »

Public perception can be a fickle thing. Behaviours, products, practices and technologies go in and out of favour all the time, and over the years, the morals and values of the majority change. Social acceptance of homosexuality, women voting, or racial integration was once deemed unimaginable but is now ubiquitous – a social license was granted. On the flip side, …

The Social License Read More »


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