What does Diamond see as an important lesson we can draw from the Dutch polder system?

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In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Jared Diamond argues that the Dutch polder system provides us with an example of environmental sustainability through cooperation.

A polder is a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the sea. In the Netherlands, about 20% of the land has been reclaimed in his way so it is important to have an effective system in place to ensure long-term environmental sustainability. And this system depends for its effectiveness on people in different polders working together to ensure that no one drowns. It isn't the case that rich people live safely on top of dikes while the poor eke out a parlous existence on the polders below sea-level; if the dikes and the pumps and all the other crucial elements of the polder system fail, then everyone will drown, rich and poor alike.

Diamond holds up the polder system as a paradigm example of how we should all work together to stave off environmental disaster. Far too often, especially in the West, we tend not to notice the damaging environmental impact that our actions can have on other parts of the world. But as Diamond points out, such an attitude is a recipe for disaster. Unless we acknowledge the fundamental interconnectedness of humankind, as the Dutch do in the operation of their polder system, then there is every danger that the Earth will hurtle towards environmental catastrophe at a truly alarming rate.

Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on December 10, 2019
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