In the book Collapse, how does Diamond's argument stand up to that of Tim Murray in Questioning Collapse regarding Australia?
At the start of his essay in Questioning Collapse, Tim Murray claims that it is a requirement for societal sustainability that people engage "in an honorable and honest discourse about their histories." According to him, Australia has now addressed its failure to involve the Aboriginal population in the management of their archaeological artifacts. However, he immediately stresses the necessity of catering to settler interests in this regard.
Here, as in many other places in his essay, Murray reveals a somewhat condescending attitude towards the Aboriginal inhabitants, which is not shared by Jared Diamond. In Collapse, Diamond relates how the continent's larger animals were relatively quickly eradicated by the first Aborigines to arrive. However, he continues that thereafter, the "Aborigines worked out successful sustainable solutions to the continent's daunting environmental problems."
Murray's rebuttal to this statement is merely semantical, as he wonders whether the Aborigines "worked out" solutions or came by them by chance. He also ridicules the notion that a sole Aboriginal survivor inhabited Tasmania for some years. He relates how the last remaining family was actually exiled to a nearby island. He seems to be glossing over the horrific treatment Aboriginals suffered at the hands of European settlers.
Diamond's assertion that Australia would be best served by giving up on agriculture has understandably aroused vehement opposition. Murray has a telling point in the fact that Australia's citrus exports are triple its imports. Citing this, he attempts to refute Diamond's argument that the country imports Brazilian juice, but what Diamond refers to is the cheaper price of the import. Murray does not really counter Diamond's description of the poor quality of arable soil in the country. Diamond writes that the soil in Australia's wheat belt in the southwest requires so many added nutrients that it is akin to a flower pot.
Murray's claim that Diamond has "provided very little [good infomation] with respect to Australia" is simply unjust. Diamond's chapter on Australia, as is the case throughout his book, is extensively underpinned by evidence and references to other authorities.
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