Humanity is far more vulnerable to extinction events. In the past, life on the planet only had to worry about natural disasters. But when the dinosaurs passed, the mammals were able to rise, chief among them homo sapiens – a life form clever enough to be able to engineer its own mass extinction through nuclear weapons, chemically-induced climate change and genetically-engineered pandemics.
We must fear ourselves even more than natural catastrophes.
-- What do the Maya and the Toltecs in APOCALYPSE 2012 have to teach us about coping with global catastrophe?
The Maya faced and went through almost everything that our world is experiencing today, including religiously-motivated wars, climate change which produced the sorts of drought-driven food and water scarcity which now plagues Asia and Africa, particularly India. They faced internecine class conflict fueled by escalating inequities between the ruling and the laboring classes.
They faced the same tensions that many theocratic nations face today—the eternal conflict between science and religion. As drought ravaged their croplands, their religious/political leaders demanded not technological advances and organized efforts to improve food production and alleviate water scarcity but massive sacrifices of blood and treasure consecrated to their sky gods, including en masse human sacrifices. If the Mayans and their sister civilizations had put that effort into additional aqueducts, new irrigation systems and crop diversification, they might not have gone under. Instead they cut out hearts and hacked off heads.