Saturday, 14 April 2012

Review of Collapse

Collapse by Jared Diamond
Diamond charts how social collapse is often caused by environmental collapse- rapid climate change, destruction of the native environment, migration by hostile neighbours due to other environmental changes etc. He employs an interesting comparative method by examining societies like Easter Island, the Mayans, the Norse colony in Greenland, Haiti and Rwanda. It examines why societies collapse in terms of failing to deal with their environment and grapples with important issues like globalisation and climate change. He also charts societies at risk- like Australia, China etc. and how they might manage their environments so as to avoid environmental catastrophe. I prefer it to Guns, Germs and Steel because Diamond more carefully avoids claiming that the environment is the only factor at play-, which he is occasionally guilty of in the aforementioned work. The Economist largely praised the book when it was released- although I disagree with that reviewer’s charge that Diamond is too pessimistic- I think he is too optimistic- humankind has done precious little to safeguard its environmental future.

Dan Gibbons is a 3rd year Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) student at the University of Melbourne. He has a forthcoming publication in Intergraph: A Journal of Dialogic Anthropology (about memory and nationalism) and is currently submitting papers on the rise of modern consumerism, the role of criminology theory in literary criticism and the institutional theory of nationalism. Dan is a keen debater and public speaker.

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