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What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates? Diamond weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of historical-cultural narratives. Moving from the prehistoric Polynesian culture of Easter Island to the formerly flourishing Native American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya, the doomed medieval Viking colony on Greenland, and finally to the modern world, Diamond traces a pattern of catastrophe, spelling out what happens when we squander our resources, when we ignore the signals our environment gives us.


Table of Contents:

Prologue : a tale of two farms -- Two farms -- Collapses, past and present -- Vanished Edens? -- A five-point framework -- Businesses and the environment -- The comparative method -- Plan of the book -- pt. 1. Modern Montana -- 1. Under Montana's big sky -- Stan Falkow's story -- Montana and me -- Why begin with Montana? -- Montana's economic history -- Mining -- Forests -- Soil -- Water -- Native and non-native species -- Differing visions -- Attitudes towards regulation -- Rick Laible's story -- Chip Pigman's story -- Tim Huls's story -- John Cook's story -- Montana, model of the world -- pt. 2. Past societies -- 2. Twilight at Easter -- The quarry's mysteries -- Easter's geography and history -- People and food -- Chiefs, clans, and commoners -- Platforms and statues -- Carving, transporting, erecting -- The vanished forest -- Consequences for society -- Europeans and explanations -- Why was Easter fragile? -- Easter as metaphor -- 3. The last people alive : Pitcairn and Henderson Islands -- Pitcairn before the Bounty -- Three dissimilar islands -- Trade -- The movie's ending -- 4. The ancient ones : the Anasazi and their neighbors -- Desert farmers -- Tree rings -- Agricultural strategies -- Chaco's problems and packrats -- Regional integration -- Chaco's decline and end -- Chaco's message -- 5. The Maya collapses -- Mysteries of lost cities -- The Maya environment -- Maya agriculture -- Maya history -- Copán -- Complexities of collapses -- Wars and droughts -- Collapse in the southern lowlands -- The Maya message -- 6. The Viking prelude and fugues -- Experiments in the Atlantic -- The Viking explosion -- Autocatalysis -- Viking agriculture -- Iron -- Viking chiefs -- Viking religion -- Orkneys, Shetlands, Faeroes -- Iceland's environment -- Iceland's history -- Iceland in context -- Vinland -- 7. Norse Greenland's flowering -- Europe's outpost -- Greenland's climate today -- Climate in the past -- Native plants and animals -- Norse settlement -- Farming -- Hunting and fishing -- An integrated economy -- Society -- Trade with Europe -- Self-image -- 8. Norse Greenland's end -- Introduction to the end -- Deforestation -- Soil and turf damage -- The Inuit's predecessors -- Inuit subsistence -- Inuit/Norse relations -- The end -- Ultimate causes of the end -- 9. Opposite paths to success -- Bottom up, top down -- New Guinea highlands -- Tikopia -- Tokugawa problems -- Tokugawa solutions -- Why Japan succeeded -- Other successes -- pt. 3. Modern societies -- 10. Malthus in Africa : Rwanda's genocide -- A dilemma -- Events in Rwanda -- More than ethnic hatred -- Buildup in Kanama -- Explosion in Kanama -- Why it happened -- 11. One island, two peoples, two histories : the Dominican Republic and Haiti -- Differences -- Histories -- Causes of divergence -- Dominican environmental impacts -- Balaguer -- The Dominican environment today -- The future -- 12. China, lurching giant -- China's significance -- Background -- Air, water, soil -- Habitat, species, megaprojects -- Consequences -- Connections -- The future -- 13. "Mining" Australia -- Australia's significance -- Soils -- Water -- Distance -- Early history -- Imported values -- Trade and immigration -- Land degradation -- Other environmental problems -- Signs of hope and change -- pt. 4. Practical lessons -- 14. Why do some societies make disastrous decisions? -- Road map for success -- Failure to anticipate -- Failure to perceive -- Rational bad behavior -- Disastrous values -- Other irrational failures -- Unsuccessful solutions -- Signs of hope -- 15. Big businesses and the environment : different conditions, different outcomes -- Resource extraction -- Two oil fields -- Oil company motives -- Hardrock mining operations -- Mining company motives -- Differences among mining companies -- The logging industry -- Forest Stewardship Council -- The seafood industry -- Businesses and the public -- 16. The world as a polder : what does it all mean to us today? -- Introduction -- The most serious problems -- If we don't solve them... -- Life in Los Angeles -- One-liner objections -- The past and the present -- Reasons for hope.
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Details

ISBN-10:  0143036556 (pbk.)
ISBN-13:  9780143036555 (pbk.)
Author:  Jared M Diamond
Publisher:  Penguin (Non-Classics)
Date Published:  December 27, 2005
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Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Collapse, is a great look at what can happen when a society forgets to respect the earth that sustains them.
review by . June 02, 2009
The main theme of this lengthy and substantial book is that human beings invariably leave too great a footprint and that, given current human population levels, we've now just about infested the entire planet with nowhere else to go (barring substantial advances in space travel and better opportunities out there). As Jared Diamond shows again and again, through a large number of fairly well documented and examined examples, human societies tend to consume the environments in which they are established. …
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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
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