The Norwegian and Viking colonizers who settled in Iceland were happy to find terrain that (other than the volcanoes) looked similar to what they were used to in Norway and Britain, and thus they thought it could be farmed in the same way. According to Collapse, what was the problem with that assumption?
a. Iceland's more northern location meant that the growing seasons was both cooler and shorter, thus making agriculture less reliable than tending livestock.
b. Periodic volcanic eruptions made the pasturage temporarily poisonous for livestock and could cause both animals and people to starve.
c. Rich soils were actually quite fragile and thus could be very easily exhausted.
d. All of the above.
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The answer to this can be found in Chapter 6 of Collapse. Since I only have this book on Kindle, I cannot give you a page number and Amazon’s searchable copy does not include the relevant pages in the sections that are viewable without purchasing. The best answer to this question is Option D: all of the above. All of these are listed in Chapter 6 as problems that Icelanders faced.
In Chapter 6, Diamond tells us that
…Iceland’s apparent similarity to southwestern Norway and Britain was deceptive in three crucial respects.
When he goes on to list these “crucial respects,” we see that they are all of the things that are mentioned in your question. First, he says, Iceland was farther north. This meant that it had a “cooler climate and a shorter growing season.” This means that Option A from your question is correct. Second, Diamond says,
…ash that volcanic eruptions periodically ejected over wide areas poisoned fodder for livestock.
He says that this has caused starvation at various points in Iceland’s history. Therefore, Option B is also correct. Finally, Diamond says that the biggest problem is the fact that Norway and Britain had “robust” soils whereas Iceland’s soil was “fragile.” This means that Option C is also correct.
Therefore, Option D must be the correct answer to this question.
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