How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The starkest example in the book was the ecological collapse of Easter Island.
But he or she still felled it. This is what is so worrying. Its selfishness appears to be genetically inborn. Selfishness leads to survival. Altruism leads to death. The selfish gene wins. But in a limited ecosystem, selfishness leads to increasing population imbalance, population crash, and ultimately extinction.
He suggests that as the ecological crisis brought on by deforestation worsened, the islanders tried to appease their apparently angry gods by making and transporting yet more statues, creating a vicious circle of human stupidity.
And just to show how nasty things can get in a collapsing society, Diamond makes sure to include tantalisingly unpleasant allegations that the islanders actually ate each other on a large scale: But what if almost none of this is actually true, in straightforward historical terms?
Hunt and Lipo did not set out to challenge the conventional story: However, as they dug and analysed, things turned out very differently. Take the deforestation issue.
Hunt and Lipo discovered that initial estimates of the date of first colonisation by migrating Polynesians were out by several hundred years. So whilst human arrival on the island did indeed lead to near-total deforestation, it was nothing to do with statue-building, which came later.
The same thing happened on many other Pacific islands, including those in Hawaii. And instead of the statue-building cult being evidence of stupidity and ecocide, Hunt and Lipo suggest that it was actually an important contributor to the success of Easter Island society — which again in contradiction to the assertions of Diamond maintained a relatively peaceful nature over many centuries.
These included lithic mulching using stones as mulcherecting multiple wind-breaks again out of stone and making very effective string and rope out of plant fibres. As Peiser puts it: In fact, there is no archaeological evidence whatsoever for either starvation or cannibalism.
The extreme isolation of Rapa Nui is an exception even among islands, and does not constitute the ordinary problems of the human environment interface. Yet in spite of exceptionally challenging conditions, the indigenous population chose to survive — and they did… What they could not endure, however, and what most of them did not survive, was something altogether different: What happened to the Easter Islanders?
For the Easter Islanders were indeed subject to a genocide — but it did not come from within. Instead, visiting ships brought epidemics of new diseases which wiped out the majority of the population — with most of the remnants later carted off in slave raids.
Nor was this the final insult. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the island was converted into a massive sheep ranch, with its surviving human population held in virtual captivity. The sheep converted it into a true ecological wasteland, eliminating the remaining smaller trees and causing large-scale soil erosion — for which the early Easter Islanders would once again later be blamed by latter-day environmentalists.
However, in complex coupled social-ecological-environmental systems, simple theories are almost certain to be too simple. The complexity of such coupled systems precludes simple cause-effect analyses.
Ecosystems eventually adapt to climate change and insults from humans. Lynas makes the following statement on the true lesson of Easter Island: Like all of us, modern Easter Islanders are inter-dependent with the rest of the world.
Perhaps the more recent studies of their history will help challenge the Hobbesian and pessimistic view that human nature necessarily tends towards destruction and violence.
Resilience and sustainability are just as likely outcomes, even over the longer term. This, I think, is the true lesson of Easter Island.Jared Diamond’s thesis in Guns, Germs, and Steel is that European economic, military, technological, and political power came about because of geographical luck, and not because the Europeans.
by Judith Curry Update: response from Jared Diamond. Several years ago, I read with great interest Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The starkest example in the book was the ecological collapse of Easter Island.
Mark Lynas has written a provocative essay that argues that "recent archaeological work . Summary & Analysis Jared Diamond This Study Guide consists of approximately 62 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Collapse.
A fascinating book lies within the nearly six hundred pages of Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
The interior book is an effort to marshal the facts surrounding the disappearances of past civilizations known for the most part by the tantalizing relics they left behind.
Essay on Collapse Final Words | 9 Pages. Collapse Final Question One In his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond outlines five factors that may lead to a societal collapse: climate change, hostile neighbors, loss of trading partners, environmental damage, and a society’s response to its problems.
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Collapse by Jared Diamond.