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Collapse, by Jared Diamond

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  • Collapse, by Jared Diamond

    COLLAPSE:
    of Jared Diamond.

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Diamond

    The subject of the book is the life and the death of civilizations. He treats past through the study of some examples of success or failures, the present and some possible futures.

    1) The societies of the past having failed are in particular those of the Mayas, the Easter Island and Scandinavian in Greenland. The societies having succeeded are, inter alia, a Polynesian society the day when the inhabitants decided to kill all their pigs to preserve their environment, New Guinea, and Japan of Tokugawa (17 ° century.)
    Iceland forms a mixed case, the catastrophe having been avoided.
    For the author, the determining factors are:
    - The environment, which can be favourable or unfavourable...... Iceland, Greenland constitute unfavourable environments and the Easter Island. It can change. In period of prosperity, demography and use of the resources can exceed what is available in less favourable periods and a light change at the bad time can cause catastrophe.
    - Demography: the resources known as renewable are limited and an over consumption due to an overpopulation involves their disappearance.
    - The relationships to the environment, deforestation in particular constitute a major stake.
    - Relationships with the other surrounding societies. For example, the relative closing of the relations with Africa cutting the supply ivory allowed the trade of the ivory of morse and supported the maintenance of Scandinavians in Greenland. The renewed access to the African ivory dried up the source. The hostile or peaceful character of the relations can play.
    - Capacity of change, evolution, adaptation: Greenland cooling, Scandinavians disappeared, Inuits survived. Certain societies do not see the problems, do not make the good decisions or cannot adapt their structures, others if. The concept of failure was formerly more or less relative: the Scandinavian society in Greenland survived 4 centuries..... If the Polynesian society of the Eastern Island disappeared, it thrived during approximately 5 centuries and some of the pascuans survived.
    But the failure means great social strains and political during the time preceding final collapse. The dominant ones, either are exterminated, with like probable example, the Eastern Island, or are the last to die of hunger like the Scandinavian ones of Greenland.
    Today, if we fail will fail ourselves all.

    2) The author insists on the fact that we live all on same planet and that we are ransacking it.
    Inuits are the population in the world whose blood concentrates the most heavy metals.
    The bio pollution i.e. the frequent transfer of species in a new environment causes catastrophe, whose rabbit in Australia constitutes a good example. The example of Australia as example of destruction of a fragile environment is impressive.
    He goes on insisting on the fact that the disaster is not inevitable, but supposes Draconian choices. All the inhabitants of planet cannot live like the Westerners and even they must accept adaptations.
    He finishes by criticizing a certain number of aphorisms:
    - The environment must be put in balance with the economy, would be a luxury: in fact, the attacks against the environment represent an important economic cost even if it is hidden partly. The populations of the Third World are also victims of the problems of environment. American harvests are compromised by disappearance of the pollinating insects and birds.
    - Technology will solve all the problems: it creates some and those are not always anticipated….
    - There are alternative resources..... May be, in the future, which will have to be produced. Some are limited (wind/sun), others suppose rather long periods of conversion.
    - There is no world food problem, the production would be sufficient. To suppose that it is true (even the global world production of cereals is not sufficient), the redistribution supposes a reduction in food consumption in occident and important transfers at important financial cost.
    - All is well, the standard of living grows and there is no foreseeable sign of important collapse! Truth for the populations of the developed countries but they lives on their capital, not on their environmental income. The decline can follow very meadows the apogee.
    - The dark forecasts of last were not carried out: certain predictions were distorted, others were false only on the calendar, others appeared exact. It is the principle of the fire-protection: there are false alarms, but overall, one needs services of fire control and the insurances.
    - The demographic crisis is solved itself: The demographic level is already too important to ensure a whole a “decent” standard of living in accordance with our standards. The uncontrolled demographic growth is a factor of poverty.
    - The problems are for later: truth and forgery. There are already problems and why fight for our children and little children at the individual level if is to destroy their future collectively.
    A personal remark: is the maximum research of the profit in the short run it compatible with the solution of the problems arising? The author gives examples of international commercial societies which integrated the environmental constraint but, to my direction, one needs a change of logic.
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