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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive.

By Stephen Eustace

The world is on a collision course between environmental damage and environmental protection; which horse will win the race? Only our motivation, sense of purpose, and belief in conserving the planet for future generations can tip the balance one way or the other. If you choose to read articles that challenge the way you interpret the world and our role within it, and to be motivated by what you read to make the world a more sustainable place, then you ought to embrace Collapse.

Jared Diamond has developed, through extensive research and collaboration, a fascinating interpretation of past and present societies that conveys a compelling message - embedding the realism of our current situation by underlining the roles of environmental issues such as deforestation; soil erosion; water shortages; climate change; and agricultural practices within political, cultural and social values. The integration of these factors has ultimately lead to overexploitation of available resources, exponential human population growth, political instability and the successive collapse of civilisations.

From the eerie statues on Easter Island to the mysterious ruins of Mayan civilisations; through Viking history and the eventual demise of the Greenland Norse; to the recent Rwandan Genocide, Diamond highlights the inappropriate value systems which were resultantly unsustainable in unbeknown fragile environments and unpredictable climates. Through the combination of scientific discovery and his comprehensive knowledge of how modern society operates, Diamond prepares the reader to understand the decisions made by past leaders and why we should learn from their relative successes and mistakes.

A disquieting parallel can be drawn between many historical failures and modern governments that endorse short-term economic globalisation policies. He examples Australia as a first world economy struggling with a third world environment, and China whose desire for and eventual acquisition of first world living standards, resulting in an increase per capita impact on the environment, will destabilise the boundaries of human sustainability. The structure of his writing is addictive and clever, considering all the threats to our continuing existence and the horse race of ever-increasing intensity.

However, we can take inspiration from relative success stories: New Guinea highlanders, Tokugawa Japan and the changing attitudes of big businesses now tackling environmental problems, to alter the course of our future for the benefit of all civilisations. By raising public awareness of the need to balance human consumption alongside the environment gives reason for hope in our ability to learn from history and be survivors. A life changing read.

Read this controversial book today

[Jared Diamond, Collapse: how societies choose to fail or survive. Penguin Books, ISBN 0-1430-3655-6, 2005].

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