Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think Diamond gives a pretty even handed account of the way societies fail (and how a few succeed), and I don't think any world view he has skews his research. Although if you love the Montana wilderness and marvel at its beauty you almost inevitably come down on the side of environmentalists wanting to preserve that beauty. Is that a bias, or just a recognition of reality?
Anyway, a good book but maybe a bit too long. He tries to offer some cautious optimism at the end but for the most part it is an emotional beat down. The history of it all is very interesting, but usually it involves tales of how people are short sighted and just plain too arrogant to imagine things might go bad. And the modern tales of Rwanda with its Malthusian dilemma is horrible.
If you follow politics even only slightly you know big business and the republican party in particular, hate regulations and always feel individual rights (or more precisely, big corporation rights) have a higher value then environmental concerns. Yeah, yeah, I know, the Democratic party is not much better, but at least occasionally they sound less strident.
Anyway he says things like this...
“The challenge of deciding which of a society's deeply held core values are compatible with the society's survival and which ones instead have to be given up.” Pg 410
“the remaining solution to the tragedy of the commons is for the consumers to recognize their common interests and design, obey and enforce prudent harvesting quotas themselves”. Pg 429
I just don't see ANY nation, state or even a group of people of any size honestly looking at the way things are, and changing core values. It just ain't gonna happen. Maybe my pessimistic view skews my interpretation...but I doubt it.
The bad times may not come in my lifetime, but it seems they are going to come some time.
“So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish ”
View all my reviews