What point is Jared Diamond trying to prove in the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond was written in 2005 as a successor to Diamond's 1997 bestselling Guns, Germs, and Steel. Where Diamond in his earlier book looked at how and why some societies succeeded and flourished while others did not, his newer volume explores catastrophic failures. In both books, Diamond considers environmental factors crucial in explaining both the failures and successes of different cultures.

Diamond distinguishes gradual decline from the central concern of his book, which is rapid and almost total collapse, as happened to such cultures as the Mayan Empire, Easter Islanders, the Norse settlement of Greenland, and the Anasazi peoples of the southwestern United States. 

He argues that the main causes of collapse are due to anthropogenic ecological problems, including overpopulation, deforestation, overhunting, overfishing, overgrazing, deterioration of water supplies, and deterioration of soil quality due to intensive farming or grazing. Diamond shows that many of the factors that led to collapse of earlier civilizations are also present in modern cultures and expresses concerns that unless we find ways of dealing with ecological problems, our civilizations may also be on the verge of similar types of collapse. 


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