One weekend, in an idle moment, I casually picked up a book with an intriguing cover. It was Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Big mistake. I devoured it like some whodunnit thriller. My weekend was lost, but a new understanding was found on why civilisation flourished in certain hot spots on the planet and not others. Diamond is engaging author, who takes big picture stuff and explains it in terms that enthrall, without the reader needing to own a wall full of PhDs. In his latest writing, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, he seeks to establish what caused the demise of cultures, like those of the Mayan, Anasazi, Norse Viking and Easter Island. In short, he fingers ignorance as one of the main culprits. And although the book is full of less-than-positive pointers to the lack of practical intelligence of the human race, he also sees hope in our current turmoil. Arguing that we cannot hide behind ignorance this time — we are overflowing with information and knowledge — we merely need to act on it. In Australia to promote the book, he appeared on radio and TV programs and copped some flak from farmers, whom he suggested, in the chapter on this ancient, worn-down continent, were eking out an existence on land, that was unlikely to support them long term. They countered that his information was not current and their land management practices have improved in recent years. Which perversely vindicates Diamond’s hope that we can see the error of our ways, in time to make corrective changes. Reading this book will hopefully not only galvanise you into action but also to encourage those around you to act as well.
:: Buy Collapse:How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond