Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

November Books 8) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, by Jared Diamond

A totally fascinating book looking at how the human impact on the environment can cause societies to collapse or disappear. The particularly memorable chapters are on Easter Island and the Viking settlements on Greenland, both cases where the natural resources were exploited to the point of mass death. There are lots of other case studies as well, mostly dealing with larger societies or states, but none quite as dramatic or as detailed.

The final chapters are an excellent synthesis of the message of the book. Diamond has a not very profound but interesting take on the nature of political decision-making, and why it goes wrong; on business and the environment (I would like to know more about the Marine Stewardship Council, and why it has had so little impact in Europe), and finally on future prospects for saving the world, where he is cautiously optimistic but not complacent. He is clear that our current patterns of environmental exploitation are not sustainable, but hopes that a sufficiently conscious public will be able to pressurise its leaders into taking action. The book will certainly help.
Tags: bookblog 2009
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