Digging Deeper, UFPPC’s (www.ufppc.org) Book Discussion Series @ Mandolin Café (Tacoma, WA) May 9, 2005, 7:00 p.m.

Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Viking, 2004).
Prologue: A Tale of Two Farms. Huls Farm, Montana, and Gardar Farm, SW Greenland: similarities (1-3). Collapse: “A drastic decline in human population size and/or political/economic/social complexity, over a considerable area, for an extended time” (3). Map (45). Eight causes of “ecological suicide ― ecocide” ― “deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses), water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, and increased per capital impact of people” (6). Typically, societies collapse rapidly (6-7). Four new threats: “human-caused climate change, buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages, and full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity” (7). Most of the 12 threats are predicted to become “globally critical” “within the next few decades” (7). Perhaps the past contains lessons (7-8). Controversy of responsibility of native peoples for past ecocides dismissed: “they were people like us” (8-10). Five factors in collapse: environmental change (11); climate change (often combining with environmental change) (12-13); hostile neighbors (13-14); decreased support from friendly neighbors (14); a society’s own institutional response (14-15). “A full title for this book would be ‘societal collapses involving an environmental component, and in some cases also contributions of climate change, hostile neighbors, and trade partners, plus questions of societal responses’” (15). Claims “middle-of-the-road perspective, with experience of both environmental problems and of business realities” (15-17). Scientific approach: the comparative method (17-19). Plan of book (19-23). PART ONE: MODERN MONTANA Ch. 1: Under Montana’s Big Sky. Montana’s attractive beauty (27-30). Ravalli County (30). Advantages as a case: less abstract; exemplary environmental problems (32-33). History of Montana’s human occupation, and its economic basis (33-35). Toxic byproducts of mining (35-41). Logging & forestry problems (41-47). Soil: nitrogen depletion, erosion, and saline seeps (47-49). Water problems (49-53). Air problems (53). Problems from the introduction of nonnative species of animals and plants (53-56). Polarization of community (56-62). Low spending on education; children leave Montana (62-63). Antigovernment attitude prevents government action to preserve Montana’s attractions (63-65). Four individual stories: Rick Laible, state senator (66-68); Chip Pigman, developer (68-70); Tim Huls, dairy farmer (7072); John Cook, fishing guide (72-73). Montana’s dependence on income from outside (74). The value of the case of Montana as exemplar (74-75). PART TWO: PAST SOCIETIES Ch. 2: Twilight at Easter. Easter Island “the most remote habitable scrap of land in the world” (79). Rano Raraku quarry (79-80). Early speculations, after 1722 contact (80-82). Easter Island’s geography & climate (83, 86). Prehistoric Polynesian settlement beginning c. 1200 BC (86-87). Easter Island probably settled shortly before 900 AD (87-90). Diamond sides with higher population estimates (15,000 or more) (9091). Evidence for intensification of agriculture includes rock gardens and lithic mulch agriculture (91-93). Easter Island stratified, divided radially into 11 or 12 clans, and religiously & economically integrated (9395). Ahu (stone platforms and their moai [giant stone statues]) (95-99). Diamond endorses “canoe ladder” hypothesis for transporting statues, which were then levered vertical (99-101). Van Tilburg’s estimated ahu & moai added 25% to island population’s food requirements over 300 years (102). Extreme deforestation: “the whole forest gone, and all of its tree species extinct” (102-07). Self-destruction of Easter Island society (107-11). Subsequent neareradication of Easter Islanders following contact with Europeans (111-12). Alternative explanations other than ecocide unpersuasive (113-14). Analysis of factors for deforestation shows Easter Island was “one of the most fragile environments, at the highest risk for deforestation, of any Pacific people” (115-18). Only two factors involved in Easter Island collapse: environmental impacts, and social impacts (118-19). Easter Island “a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead of us in our own future” (119). Ch. 3: The Last People Alive: Pitcairn and Henderson Islands. Mangareva, Pitcairn, and Henderson Islands: relative advantages and drawbacks for habitation (120-26). Evidence of trade network established by Marshall Weiser, U. of Otago (NZ) (127-31). Trade occurred from 1000 to 1450, but stopped by 1500; Henderson Island & Pitcairn Island gradually died out (131-35). Ch. 4: The Ancient Ones: The Anasazi and Their Neighbors. Collapse of Anasazi & related cultures, 1130-c. late 15th c., due to interrelated factors (13637). Dendrochronology (138-39). Three types of agriculture, four strategies of application (139-43). Chaco Canyon (143). Water management issues (14445). Packrat middens reveal deforestation after AD 1000 (145-47). Chaco Canyon becomes a miniimperial metropolis (147-50). “Explosion of environmental and population problems in the form of civil unrest and warfare . . . a frequent theme of this book” leads Anasazi (‘the Ancient Ones’) [153] to ruin (151-54). All factors of collapse [11-15] involved, except external enemies; ultimate cause of collapse environmental; proximate cause climatic (154-56). Ch. 5: The Maya Collapses. Romantic appeal since rediscovery in 1839 by John Stephens (157-58). Relevance of Mayan collapse to this study (158-60).

Climate and geography of Mayan homeland: seasonal tropical forest (160-62). Relatively unproductive (Mayan peasantry produced twice the food supply needed to support itself) agriculture limited extent of military campaigns (162-66). Mayan history; Mayan calendar (166-68). Human habitation at Copán (recorded, AD 426-822; unwritten, c. 5th c.-13th c.) (16870). Complexities of the Mayan collapse; “What collapsed quickly during the Classic collapse was the institution of kingship and the Long Count calendar” (170-72). Warfare and drought (172-74). Population collapse (3-14 million to 30,000) (175). Repopulation (and redeforestation) of Central Péten (175-76). Five factors contributed to collapse: over population, deforestation, war, drought, and elite distractions (17677). Ch. 6: The Viking Prelude and Fugues. Viking expansion westward and detailed record make its evidence “the most detailed example in this book” (178-80). Brief history of Viking expansion, 793-1066 (180-81, 184-85). An autocatalytic process (186-87). Settlers bring along their cultural capital (187). Viking agriculture (188-89). Iron production (189-90). Hierarchical class structure of competing chiefs (190). Viking religion (191). Conversion to Christianity (19293). With only six “experiments” in overseas settlement, analysis is difficult, but historical knowledge helps (193-94). Orkneys (194-95). Shetland Islands (195). Faeroe Islands (195-97). Iceland’s volcanoes and ice (197-98). Fragile soils (198-200). Colonization, 870-930, led to deforestation and erosion (200-01). Need for conservation led to conservatism (202). Political history (202-03). Eventual prosperity from trade in stockfish (dried cod) (203). Closeness to Europe and absence of other inhabitants positive factors, unsuitability for agriculture and environmental fragility negative factors in Iceland (204-05). Of the five factors of collapse (11-15), only the hostility outsiders was minor (204-05). Icelanders appreciate the importance of archaeologists (205). Vinland voyage controversy settled by 1961 discovery of Newfoundland site (206). Two Vinland sagas indicate “Helluland” was east coast of Baffin Island, Markland the Labrador coast, and Vinland Newfoundland, probably with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (207). Leifsbudir = L’Anse aux Meadows, a base camp (207-08). Archaeological evidence indicates planned abandonment (207-08). Hostility of Indians main factor (209). Visits for supply and trade continued for centuries (209-10). Ch. 7: Norse Greenland’s Flowering. Viking settlements in SW Greenland’s 2 fjord systems, 9841400s (211-13). Cold, variable, windy, foggy climate (213-16). After the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300), which brought Inuit into the area, the Little Ice Age began (216-20). Flora and fauna (220-21). Settlement (221-22). Greenland Norse pastoralism (222-26). Hunting wild animals, esp. caribou and seals (227-28). No fish (229-30). Complex, integrated economy; stratification (231-25). Society: communal (farm groups of about 20) (235-36); violent (236-39); loose federation of hierarchical chiefdoms (239); conservative (239-40); Eurocentric (prestige of luxury trade ― walrus tusk and polar bears & polar bear hides) (240-43). Slavish adherence to Norwegian Christian customs & fashions (243-47).

Ch. 8: Norse Greenland’s End. Destruction of natural vegetation led to shortages of lumber, fuel, and iron (248-52). Soil erosion and turf cutting deprived them of useful land (252-55). Inuit: a missed opportunity and demonstration that survival was possible (255). Predecessors to Inuit were the Dorset people (256-57). Inuit technology; whale & seal hunting (257-60). Only two references to Inuits in annals, both violent (261-62). Archaeological sources show Inuit learned from the Norse, but the Norse learned nothing from the Inuit (262-64). Speculation about causes of bad relations (264-66). All five collapse factors (11-15) figure in Norse demise (26667). Western Settlement goes first, starving & freezing to death in mid-14th c. (267-70). Exact circumstances of the end of the Eastern Settlement in early 15th c. unknown (270-71). Speculation that collapse was sudden (272-73). Collapse was not inevitable, but “much of what the chiefs and clergy valued proved eventually harmful to the society” (273-76). Ch. 9: Opposite Paths to Success. Two contrasting approaches to solving environmental problems: bottom-up and top-down (277-78). Middle-size societies have trouble adopting either (279). New Guinea (bottom-up) casuarina silviculture (280-86). Tikopia (bottom-up), tiny South Pacific island (1.8 sq. mi.) supports 1,200, continuously occupied for 3,000 years (286-93). Japan, 1467-1868 (top down) (294-97). 1657 Meiriki fire burned half of Edo (Tokyo), leading to consumption limits and building up of reserves (299304). Environmental & social factors in success (30406). Other success stories (306-07). PART THREE: MODERN SOCIETIES Ch. 10: Malthus in Africa: Rwanda’s Genocide. E. African population boom (311). Malthus (312-13). Comparative genocide statistics: Rwanda #3 in absolute numbers, #2 in proportional terms (313). Hutu-Tutsi history (314-15). Hutus’ mass killing of est. 800,000 Tutsi, spring 1994 (315-17). Ethnic strife an inadequate explanation (317-19). Overpopulation and environmental problems (319-21). Rising inequalities produced land disputes that undermined social cohesion (321-24). Much killing involved settling scores (324-26). Explaining is not excusing (326-27). Population pressure not the single cause (327). Merely an important factor (327-28). Ch. 11: One Island, Two Peoples, Two Histories: The Dominican Republic and Haiti. Dominican Republic & Haiti contrasted (329-33). History of the two countries (333-39). Geography and climate (339). Social and political differences: French imported slaves for intensive plantation agriculture (340). Cultural differences: Haitians more insular, anti-commercial (340). Deforestation (341-45). Balaguer’s policies and motivations in the Dom. Rep.: an evil environmentalist? (343-49). Dom. Rep. today: growing per-capital human impact (349-52). Mixed forecasts for the Dom. Rep.’s future (352-54). Any hope for Haiti depends on involvement with Dom. Rep. (354-57). Ch. 12: China, Lurching Giant. China’s superlatives: 1.3 billion people (358-39). Geography, population trends, economy (359-63). History of

environmental impacts on air, water, soil (363-65). Deforestation (365-66). Grasslands and wetlands (366). Degradation of fisheries, decline in native species (366-67). Costs to people (368-69). Effect on the world (369-73). Prospects mixed (373-77). Ch. 13: “Mining” Australia. Value as case study (378-80). Australian soils unproductive (380-83). Water scarce (383-85). Distances as factor ― few medium-sized towns (385-88). Early history (388-90). Effect of importing sheep, rabbits, foxes, values (39095). Trade (395-96). Immigration and population policy (396-98). Land degradation: clearance of plants, overstocking sheep, weeds, salinization (398404). Other problems (404-09). Changing attitudes a cause for hope (409-16). PART FOUR: PRACTICAL LESSONS Ch. 14: Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions? Tainter wrong to minimize environmental factors (419-21). Consequences of actions may be unanticipated (421-24). Problems may not be seen (424-26). Even once seen, problems may be “rationally” ignored (427-31). Inappropriate values can lead to disaster (432-34). Other irrational factors (43436). Solutions may be out of reach (436-37). Ability to learn gives hope (438-40). Ch. 15: Big Businesses and the Environment: Different Conditions, Different Outcomes. The problem of resource extraction (441-42). Oil industry in New Guinea (442-46). Chevron’s enlightened environmental policies (446-52). Unenlightened hardrock mining practices (452-59). Economic factor of externalities contributes (459-61). Corporate culture of entitlement (461-62). Government/social complacency (462-63). Some companies better than others (463-68). Logging industry (468-73). Forest Stewardship Council led forest certification movement in 1993 (473-79). Marine fisheries’ efforts to move toward certification (479-83). Public attention is a key factor, not just business greed: “The public has the ultimate responsibility for the behavior of even the biggest businesses” (483-85). Ch. 16: The World as Polder: What Does It All Mean to Us Today? So what? (486). Twelve sets of problems: LOSSES: 1. Destruction of natural habitats (487-88). 2. Wild stocks being depleted (488). 3. Loss of biodiversity (488-89). 4. Soil erosion & damage (489-90). CEILINGS: 5. Peak oil (490). 6. Freshwater depletion (490). 7. Photosynthetic ceiling (490-91). ILLS: 8. Toxic chemicals (491-92). 9. Alien species (492-93). 10. Atmospheric gases (493). POPULATION: 11. Population growth (494). 12. Impact on the environment (494-95). Aspiration of third-world people to first-world standard of living (49596). We are “on a non-sustainable course” and we can either choose solutions or have “warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapse of societies” (496-99). Los Angeles as an example (499503). Responses to 10 common one-liner dismissals (503-14). Differences between present and past (51415). But also, similarities (515-17). Ill effects of globalization (517-19). Polders as metaphor for the world: “Throughout human history, most people have been . . . living in small, virtual polders. . . . The whole

world today is a self-contained and isolated unit” (51921). Cautious optimism (521-25). Acknowledgments. 3 pages. Further Readings. Bibliographical (529-55). Actions you can take: vote, conscious consumerism, consumer activism, study businesses and how to influence them, talk to others, work through religious institutions, work on local environment, set an example for others, donate to organizations (556-60). Index. 15 pages. Illustration Credits. 42 photos.

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