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Book review: Collapse – Jared Diamond (2011)



Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive author Jared Diamond reviews the causes of historical incidences of societal collapse from a range of issues, including climate change, environmental shifts and conflicts.

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The new edition of the book includes a new foreword by Diamond looking at what we can learn from the societies that flourished and those that floundered. The author brings together evidence to show why societies self-destruct and how we can use our knowledge to benefit.

Throughout the book five factors that contribute to collapse are identified along with 12 environmental problems. Eight of the 12 environmental factors have been linked to the collapse of past societies, such as overfishing, deforestation, overpopulation and water management. Additionally, energy shortages, anthropogenic climate change, a build up of toxins in the environment and full human use of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity are highlighted as new factors that could weaken and collapse present and future societies.

The root problem in the majority of cases is overpopulation and the impact this has on the environment, raising some important questions for today’s growing population.


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