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Book: Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Jared Diamond’s second book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (associate link) talking about the fate of the world focuses not so much on the aspect on how we got to where we are today (for that you should read Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (associate link)
) but rather explores the questions why some societies not only are at a disadvantage today but why they collapsed completely.

For instance why did the Maya fail although everything we the average person knows about them is that they were one of the most advanced civilizations of their time?

Although, Jared Diamond always emphasizes that there is not a single factor that can predict the failure, throughout the book I got the impression that the once cause that connects all cases is an unsustainable way of live. Of course, not every society was aware that their way of live is not sustainable (e.g. starting in a good year and then hit by a bad year).

What does unsustainable mean in the context of this book? Mainly deforestation (there were societies that cleared all trees on their island) and destruction of food producing resources (e.g. loss of nutrients, soil erosion, and nutrient leaching).

For us today that means that we should be very careful how we use our resources and what we do to our earth, especially considering that we as a race face bigger challenges, such as global warming or the over fishing of the oceans together with a major population increase.

In the end I was wondering what I can do to live more sustainable at least with respect to food. And I will try to start eating more see food. Why? Well 70 percent of the earths surface are covered with water, shouldn’t that imply that most of the food we consume also should be produced in this water covered area?

What do you see yourself doing to live a little bit more sustainable to avoid our society from collapsing?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 02/02/2012 21:36

    This is from 2003, but as far as I know things haven’t gotten any better with respect to the state of the worldwide fish stocks:

    • 03/02/2012 08:23

      Thanks Jorge for the link. It is sadly true that the fish stock continuously dwindles. I think fish shouldn’t be the only thing farmed in the sees and that we shouldn’t continue doing it as we do and converge more towards a structured farming approach with respect to the sees as we do it on land.

      Like having cattle and wheat farms in the open ocean. There is simply so much space it is a pity that we cannot properly use it yet.

      • 03/02/2012 11:58

        Yeah, I guess we could use the oceans better… just don’t finish all the seafood before we figure out how to!

      • 03/02/2012 12:00

        I guess we will go a similar route as with wild game.

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