Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Is a book by Jared M. Diamond, and just got on my must read list.

From Wikipedia.

"This book employs the comparative method to understand societal collapses to which environmental problems contribute"

Diamond lists eight factors which have historically contributed to the collapse of past societies:

  1. Deforestation and habitat destruction
  2. Soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses)
  3. Water management problems
  4. Overhunting
  5. Overfishing
  6. Effects of introduced species on native species
  7. Population growth
  8. Increased per-capita impact of people

Further, he says four new factors may contribute to the weakening and collapse of present and future societies:

  1. Human-caused climate change
  2. Buildup of toxins in the environment
  3. Energy shortages
  4. Full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity

The root problem in all but one of Diamond's factors leading to collapse is overpopulation relative to the practicable (as opposed to the ideal theoretical) carrying capacity of the environment.

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