In order to understand rise and fall of civilization we can use the analogy of waves. Waves cannot run on themselves. It makes use of energy as nations use energy of peoples to form waves. People themselves do not pass energy around but energy uses them to travel distance. I call this making my day count. But life that is in me has ways of connecting with energy that begun even before the Big Bang.
The energy of winds in turn is another form of solar energy.
The sun doesn’t ever heat the Earth evenly nor do abilities of groups of people scattered around the globe are evenly matched. The same principle that keeps some regions more heated than others keep drive civilizations in circulation. Inequality principle in human affairs carry potential energy to destroy and redefine nations .
The Earth’s natural formations as well as its orientation to the sun play their part just as abundance of natural resources make some nations lead the engine of progress.
As some air gets heated, it becomes less dense, and thus lighter, and naturally floats upward. This leaves an open space for denser, colder air to rush in and take its place. This air rush is the refreshing cool breeze you feel on a sunny day. The fruits of civilisation are mostly result of many technological innovations and these make life easier for the nation that can control it. The Allies in the WWII could make nuclear bombs and control the outcome to their satisfaction. It did not however prevent other powers also getting hold of nuclear know-how.
Solar power is energy that make waves just as energy from elsewhere take some nations to pre-eminence. The bottom line is energy is not created by nations themselves but carried by many waves begun elsewhere.
Around the coastal areas waves closer to the bottom carries less energy than the top giving the waves to crash and the energy is not lost but dissipated. Thus we have seen the ancient civilisations crashing into oblivion while energy of these go to fashion new players.
(ack: HowStuffWorks/How waves form)