Review of Collapse: Prologue, (2005) Viking Press, New York
Summary: The prologue of the book is the part wherein Diamond summarizes the contents of the entire book in just one whole paragraph. The comparative methods employed by Diamond on his book aims to better understand the reasons for the collapse of previous civilizations, as well as the direct relation over the environmental issues. The prologue enumerates the five fatal reasons that contribute to the collapse of the society. By studying the civilizations of Norse, Vikings and other ancient peoples, Diamond was able to lay out these five reasons such as: the environmental damage brought by the human activities, drastic climate changes, hostile neighborhood groups, and friendly trade partners and lastly how the society addresses its own problems.
Review: The previous book written by Diamond entitled, ‘Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of the Human Societies’ also applied similar comparative methods opposite to the problem which looks to the different rates of human society build up on different continents over the last 13,000 years. The book Collapse as implied by its own title focuses on the decline instead of build up by comparing the past and present civilizations that differed with a respect to environmental fragility, interpersonal relations, political institutions and other input factors postulated to influence a society’s stability. Meanwhile, output variables are thoroughly examined as the factors for collapse or survival. B studying the output and input variables gathered, Diamond aims to discover the influence of input variables on collapses (Diamond 27). Furthermore, Collapse is a book referring to the extent of damage the people can do to their society which will eventually lead to their downfall just like the previous civilizations of long ago. The word collapse as described by the author is meant to portray the decline of the human population size or perhaps a decline in political and socio-economic complexity throughout time (Diamond 12). He stated that the major cause of the collapse of the previous civilizations was the activities that they do to the environment (Diamond 15). For example, the overfishing, effects of introducing foreign species to the native ones and the over population. As of today, these problems have proven themselves to be relevant in the changing phases of the ecosystem. Moreover, the author elaborates eight themes that shape the ecosystem in its present situation. First, is the induced environmental damage caused by humans; Diamond explains that the new advancement in agriculture was caused by the overpopulation in the land, thus creates a high rising demand for agricultural supplies (Diamond 15). He exemplifies the Huls Farm and the Gardar farm, along with its strengths and weaknesses (Diamond 10; Diamond 15). Second were the hostile neighbors which cause the high rising demand for products in agriculture (Diamond 15). The agriculture industry was forced to make drastic changes in order to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the society as well as to earn money for daily living. Furthermore, prior to what he stated on the Prologue, Diamond noted that the rapid growth of the human population forced the humans to create drastic ways to improve the agricultural production in the fastest way to cover up for the increasing demands of the community. These methods employ the usage of irrigation, double cropping and land terracing which allowed the expansion of the farmland from the marginal ones. However, these methods no matter how helpful they are, these intensified the destruction of the environment rapidly and eventually leads to the marginal lands becoming deserted again (Diamond 15).
Review of Collapse: Chapter One, (2005) Viking Press, New York
Summary: The first chapter highlights the state of Montana whilst focusing at the same time on the lives of the residents that live in the state. Here, Diamond provides a clear interpretation of the effects of the human activities on the state’s wild life, human life and socio-economic growth.
Review: Whilst the prologue provides only the brief outline of what the book is all about, the first chapter of the book states some of the evidences that the author found during his travels in Montana (Diamond 36). This chapter introduces Montana to the readers, and also the place where Diamond first began his research (Diamond 37). Accordingly, Diamond listed all the necessary details regarding the state along with its economic history of both past and the present times. In addition, the flora and fauna was thoroughly explored for research and alongside with it, the soil, water systems and the native species that reside in the area. Diamond also stated the reasons for choosing Montana as his research place because Montanan environment is not damaged unlike the other 48 states, its natural beauty still intact and preserved quite well, which makes the Ravalli County a place for immigration (Diamond 39). Aside from the natural beauty of the place, the author also wanted to explore the varying human populations of the area and the interaction of the people to their environment. With the growing need for many agricultural products and since Montana is an agricultural county in the United States, there is a big possibility to study better how humans react to the changes brought by their own activities to the environment. Especially, since the colonization, many animal species were introduced to become a part of the Montanan forestry. Other factual researches made by the author including the population density of the present time and other information such as the economic progress of the state with its social status. There also lies the impact of tourism in the area, which signifies two objectives: one would certainly benefit the state’s economy and the other will be disastrous to the natural beauty of the environment (Diamond 43). Moreover, even though Montana seems to be a role model for all American states, Diamond also discovered how the advancement in agriculture also led to some serious problems of the Montanan environment.
“Montana's environmental problems today include almost all of the dozen types of problems that have undermined pre-industrial societies in the past, or that now threaten societies elsewhere in the world as well. Particularly conspicuous in Montana are problems of: toxic wastes, forests, soils, water (and sometimes air) climate change, biodiversity losses, and introduced pests” (Diamond 44).
Other evidence of the deterioration of the Montanan landscape is the existence of mining. It has been centuries ago, and still Montana gathers some of its wealth from the mining industry. However, what Diamond points out on this chapter was the cause-and-effect of the human activities that eventually caused the downfall of the previous civilizations. The problems concerning the mining industry is not only considered a threat to the ecosystem but on the human health as well. Due to the refinement process, large amounts of toxicity have been reported since 1907. Nowadays, the Montanan government also studied the influx of the mining industry and since then, the continuous research for the alternative jobs has been launched. Furthermore, Diamond never failed to give every little tidbit of the detail he found during his travel in Montana as well as on his previous travels on the two farms. With the correct and thorough research one can gain more knowledge on the ways of achieving economic sustainability without sacrificing the environment.
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Review of Collapse: Prologue, (2005) Viking Press, New York
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