With the decline of ancient civilization—the successive incinerations of the great Library of Alexandria in the fourth century and the Moslem conquest of Egypt in the seventh—it remained for Persian and Arabian scholars to assemble, record, and continue to enlarge knowledge. The western world became aware of this heritage during the Crusades of the twelfth century when translations of Arabic records became available in Latin and various other tongues. These events provided the intellectual fuel for the Renaissance and eventually for the industrial revolution, which, according to so me, has about run its course.
Today the Arabs are again influencing history. They are making us realize that industrialized society is critically dependent upon the natural abundance of fuels. Indeed, by their petroleum export policies, they have forced us to reexamine our patterns of living and our demands upon the resources of the earth.