Success! A word with such wonderful connotations. Typically, we use this word to indicate the achievement of a sought-after goal, like marrying a spouse or possessing great amounts of money. Groups can also attain success, such as a team winning a gold medal. And what about classes of animals? Take the success of reptiles when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Or humans who now own the summit at the top of the food chain! These resoundingly exemplify success.

What would you do with success? Would you aim to sustain your achievement? Maybe you’d remain married or continue making more and even more money. Or would you simply remain at the top of the food chain? Certainly, if there’s no consequence, then these aims are reasonable. But what if they aren’t? What if being married prevents you from making even more money? Or, what if remaining at the top of the food chain destroys the chain? Should you learn of the causes and consequences of maintaining success? Or, is being successful the sole aim?

Over the last ten thousand years, there’s been very little apparent consequence to humans succeeding to the top of the food chain. Our aim now seems to be to heighten our dominance. But why and to what consequence? Is our current situation at the top of the food chain with all its consequences what you had in mind? Using a metric as simple as per capita energy consumption, we can quantify the effort needed to maintain success. Does this indicate that we will we succeed for another ten thousand years?