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A great work showing the importance of environmental issues

  • Aug 16, 2005
I read Diamond's new book before reading "Guns, Germs, and Steel," so I did not know what to expect. I was thoroughly impressed with Diamond's ability to muster evidence for a simple yet important thesis: that environmental degredation can cause societies to collapse.

One must make clear that he does not argue that ALL societies collapse from environmental degredation (as some reviewers seem to think). Rather, he is pointing out that the environment can be an important factor in the success or failure of civilizations. I thought he argued this well, and even went out of his way to avoid ecological determinism. For example, he takes several countries with similar environments and shows how they diverged based largely on political fortunes.

Likewise, Diamond is careful to avoid the appearance of an anti-corporate bias by comparing different companies and industries and pointing out good environmental practice.

The message at the end of this book is a necessary correction to the misconception that many, including the Bush administration, hold. Today's leaders must acknowledge that the environment is an important factor in maintaining economic and societal growth. The question Diamond asks is not whether we are doomed to fail but rather whether we choose to.

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More Collapse: How Societies Choose... reviews
review by . June 15, 2012
This Springsteen lyric came to mind when reading Diamond's environmental history of major societal collapses.  From his study of ancient collapses like Easter Island, the Mayan empire of Central America, and Norse Greenland, Diamond draws principles that determine when and why societies fail to adapt to environmental changes.  Ignoring their lessons, says Diamond, may leave even us wealthy first world citizens "the privilege of being the last to starve" (p. 520).   …
review by . March 21, 2005
Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at UCLA. Among his many awards are the Pulitzer Prize for "Guns, Germs and Steel," the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.    In his earlier work, "Guns, Germs and Steel," Diamond extolled the rise of nations and explained his researched-based reasons for their success. His new book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," is something of a reverse …
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Dominic J Nardi ()
Ranked #79
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
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Jared Diamond'sCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeedis the glass-half-empty follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winningGuns, Germs, and Steel. WhileGuns, Germs, and Steelexplained the geographic and environmental reasons why some human populations have flourished,Collapseuses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart. Not every collapse has an environmental origin, but an eco-meltdown is often the main catalyst, he argues, particularly when combined with society's response to (or disregard for) the coming disaster. Still, right from the outset ofCollapse, the author makes clear that this is not a mere environmentalist's diatribe. He begins by setting the book's main question in the small communities of present-day Montana as they face a decline in living standards and a depletion of natural resources. Once-vital mines now leak toxins into the soil, while prion diseases infect some deer and elk and older hydroelectric dams have become decrepit. On all these issues, and particularly with the hot-button topic of logging and wildfires, Diamond writes with equanimity.

Because he's addressing such significant issues within a vast span of time, Diamond can occasionally speak too briefly and assume too much, and at times his shorthand remarks may cause careful readers to raise an eyebrow. But in general, ...

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ISBN-10: 0670033375
ISBN-13: 978-0670033379
Author: Jared Diamond
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Publisher: Viking Adult
Date Published: December 27, 2005
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