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Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed

1555 words - 7 pages

I had no prior knowledge of Jared Diamond as an author and had not read any of his books before this Environmental course book review. Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California (born in the year 1937 in Boston) who primarily studied conservation biology and bird diversity in New Guinea; in 1985 thereby wining a MacArthur ''genius grant.
Collapse is a voluminous apocalyptical book that is rigorous in detail on a case study diversity of both the ancient (example of which include Pitcairn and Henderson Islands etc.) and modern societies like the Dominican Republic, Rwanda, Haiti etc. The book provides captivating histories of the sciences that links the ancient human practice and outcome to present day practices that may yield the same drastic or even worse outcomes. Diamond’s main argument is that modern universal industrial society is creating some similar environmental problems (which are likely to mature into universally critical issues in some decades to come) that led to the collapse of ancient societies like the Mayan civilization and the Easter Island while others who faced similar challenges managed to survive. Therefore, I gathered two key theses from this book:
• Environmental accidents are the key issue that cannot be ignored as far as human history is concerned: Surprisingly and of great Interest to me, Diamond argued to this effect that it was by coincidence that Europe got industrialization, not culture or brainpower.
• Some ancient societies (like the Easter Islanders, Norse colony, Maya, and the Greenland) ruined the very source of their livelihood.
Bearing in mind the first thesis that I presumed from this book in line with Diamond’s argument, the environment plays a vital role in every of his illustration. Destruction of habitats, Resource exhaustion, and population burden all meet at a point but in different ways and settings; but immediately their commonly buttressing effects gets to a precarious level, societies are from time to time challenged beyond their capability of response and subsequently collapse. A typical reference in collapse on this issue is the people of ancient Maya who were said to have practiced thorough slash-and-burn horticulture, growing mostly corn. Their population increased dramatically, peaking in the eighth century C.E., which subsequently led to the over-cutting of forests; and soil depletion from drought hence worsening the problem even more. However, the influential and rich people of this ancient society rather than understanding and making a move to correct these issues focused more on self-enrichment, building monuments, fighting wars, and oppressing peasants by collecting their food to fund their flamboyant lifestyles. This led to a rapid decline in the population of Maya over several centuries from migration and eventually collapse of the society.
Easter Islanders is another ancient society described by Jared is this book; a society whose competing clan leaders built...

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