How does having the right animals give a country power? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond tries to answer Yali's question of why Europeans have so much more "cargo" than people from New Guinea. The book offers up as an answer what might be called a form of geographical or ecological determinism, arguing that it is not mental habits...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond tries to answer Yali's question of why Europeans have so much more "cargo" than people from New Guinea. The book offers up as an answer what might be called a form of geographical or ecological determinism, arguing that it is not mental habits or culture which lead to such disparities, but accidents of location.

Geographical location, for Diamond, determines the forms of food production readily available to a given civilization. Although much of the human diet consists of plants, and easily domesticated plants help with the "neolithic transition" to geographical stability and urbanization, the right kind of animals play several important roles in developing the sort of wealth and economic surplus that leads to relative power.

First, domesticable animals add to the available food supply, providing milk and eggs as well as meat. Next, draft animals make plowing fields far more efficient. Finally, animals such as camels and horses are major means of transportation, able to move faster and carry significantly more weight than humans on foot. In many countries, animals also allow for direct military power as nations employ cavalry, or mounted soldiers, to overcome foot soldiers in wars.

In general, wealthier civilizations with more advanced technologies are more powerful than poorer ones, and thus the economic contributions of the right kind of animals enable countries to grow powerful. 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team