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 Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)

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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:59 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
The Icelanders and the Tikopeans are encouraging to me. The main thing is that they were able to look at their situation and make big adjustments. They learned from experience.
Do you think that the collection and awareness of information is a point he is stressing now? The Tikopians knew every square meter of their island while the inhabitants of the slightly bigger one - Mangareva? - might not have. The Icelanders are starting to collect info and data and the Japanese went loo-lah cataloguing the trees they had when they decided to reforest the place...

Feedback of information .. important. Do you think he is making a point of it?

Yes, he also stressed when the Vikings in Greenland weren't sufficiently in tune with the local environment and tried to live by an alien culture.
He mentions the Netherlands favourably but the Netherlands has the largest environmental footprint per person in the world - it exports its manure and has a large chemical industry.

But I'm quite happy to have found a couple of convincing examples that he gives us of peoples who have managed to adjust when they needed to.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:00 am

cactus flower wrote:
I've read Rwanda and somehow don't feel quite comfortable with his interpretation. I'd like to read around it a bit more myself.

Rwanda looked very beautiful, green and lush on the television when all that horror was going on.
No I felt similarly although his account pushed a few evil clouds back on the whole story in that, if it was largely a population density and food problem then it can't be some primeval hatred. Did they deforest the place too?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:03 am

I remember reading a very good paper in Archaeology Ireland that explained how the Burren landscape had been formed by slash and burn agriculture like Easter Island. Apparently it is a devastated landscape and was once forested.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:06 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I've read Rwanda and somehow don't feel quite comfortable with his interpretation. I'd like to read around it a bit more myself.

Rwanda looked very beautiful, green and lush on the television when all that horror was going on.
No I felt similarly although his account pushed a few evil clouds back on the whole story in that, if it was largely a population density and food problem then it can't be some primeval hatred. Did they deforest the place too?
He says they cut down trees and drained marshes and says they should have brought in modern agricultural methods and varieties instead. I would have thought population control by contraception would have been their best option. Could the influence of the Church come in there ?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:12 am

cactus flower wrote:
I remember reading a very good paper in Archaeology Ireland that explained how the Burren landscape had been formed by slash and burn agriculture like Easter Island. Apparently it is a devastated landscape and was once forested.
Interesting one. I don't know if tree roots would exist there. Have you been to the Burren? After they slashed they'd have had to take the stones up out of the fields with which they produced the characteristic walls.. it must have pissed them off no end to knock down trees only to see a rake of stones to dig up Laughing

cactus flower wrote:
He says they cut down trees and drained marshes and says they should have brought in modern agricultural methods and varieties instead. I would have thought population control by contraception would have been their best option. Could the influence of the Church come in there ?
This reproduction seems to have been the main culprit - real burgeoning crowds against the background of the static food supplies and land. The food supply became quickly to the foreground and people experienced food rage and then life became cheap... It's surely a lot more complicated though...

I don't think I could read a whole book on these places but the likes of an introduction that he does is something I'd pursue for further reading - eclecticism or comparative analysis.



Cactus it's 11 will we finally finish up next week?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:18 am

Quote :
It is doubly ironic that if existing legislation to protect our environment and natural surroundings had been in place 4,000 or 5,000 years ago we would not now be protecting the Burren as we know it because it is a landscape that did not occur naturally. It resulted from the depredations of Neolithic “slash and burn” farmers. The
From a Dail debate on the Wildlife Act. They burnt off the trees and then grew crops into the ashy soil which was great for a few years and then was washed and blown away with rain and wind. There was nothing much left when the guys came along and built up the little walls.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7431589.stm


Last edited by cactus flower on Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:19 am

Yup - lets finish - I've got an email to send before 12.00

We'll be over the last hurdle next week. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:52 pm

Well, I think I have got all the good I am going to out of Collapse. My awareness of the importance of top soil management has been heightened. Also how very damaging invasive species and salination can be.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:02 am

Ok, the third window on MN.

I'm more or less finished with it and it was a mighty book that. Loads of good stuff in the end - loads of good stuff regarding Australia and the Business stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:08 am

Tikopia did it for me - but Im still wondering if he made it up. I spent the afternoon sieving and reorganising compost and I must say I appreciate it all the more for Collapse.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:10 am

I never doubted it, but he showed not only that the planet has a finite carrying capacity for people, but also that we need to be very wary of moving into marginal territory.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:12 am

It was a great book I loved it but read it too slowly. We should have had a conversation to suit the book - i.e. after each chapter or something.

Do you think people on Tikopia run around like the folks in Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypse'?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:13 am

Well, I was struck by the deplorable attitude of the companies towards the environment and by how Diamond seemed to be defending them. First in the Montana chapter, he suggests that it would be unethical of the companies to spend shareholders money on environmental measures. I don't recall him ever tackling these shareholders that everyone seems to hide behind. Stiglitz is very critical of them, if memory serves.

In the penultimate chapter he describes some good companies, who take care of their local environment. They sounded like exceptions to me. Also he highlights the enlightened attitude of discerning shareholders who choose to invest in companies with good environmental records. It shouldn't be enlightened, it should be obligitary.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:20 am

I can't remember defending many of those mining companies - just one at the end, Stillwater.

He was talking about ethical investment in the end and discerning consumption as a solution to problems - remember the Forestry Standards(?) Council? A quality assurance body which audited your forestry industry and he reckoned buyers were discerning as regards the stamp.

He put a lot of the onus on consumers which could be unfair in an uninformed society or one lacking in information infrastructure..
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:24 am

I don't think Diamond had answers and agree with you 905 about the business thing. He doesn't face up to the conflict of interest between making a profit and conservation. Do you remember the Dominican Republic where a President just stopped all the logging companies closed down the saw mills and created massive national parks?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:27 am

It was a problem of the structure and title of the book that the focus was on the collapses - there were inevitably very few examples of more sustainable societies.
His examples of Japan and the Netherlands had feet of clay - the Netherlands has the highest per capita environmental footprint in Europe - they export vast quantities of pig poo and have a big chemical industry - all that pumping of dykes is using fossil fuels.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:34 am

There was an oil company mentioned at the end too. There is certainly a place for consumers and shareholders to regulate companies with their purchasing power but he places far too much emphasis on it. It contradicts other parts of the book where, as cactus flower points out, he favours strong centralised authories tackling bad environmental practices. Putting all the responsibility with consumers and shareholdres sounds terribly free markety to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:36 am

That is one of the decent things we have got out of the EU is environmental legislation - Ireland had to be dragged kicking and screaming initially but is getting behind it now it is on the books.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:43 am

I thought he was going to go down a bit of a totalitarian road in the end and caught himself and banged on about the free market. Do you not think the free market can have an effect 905? He instanced the mining companies products being way down the supply chain and far removed from the consumer so those companies couldn't be hit by the consumer the way Shell is here now, BP were over the Brent Spar, Nestlé on other occasions . Do you remember those things 905?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:44 am

Shhh! youngdan will have a fit if he links the EU and environmental legislation, the mother of all conspiracies!
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:47 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
I thought he was going to go down a bit of a totalitarian road in the end and caught himself and banged on about the free market. Do you not think the free market can have an effect 905? He instanced the mining companies products being way down the supply chain and far removed from the consumer so those companies couldn't be hit by the consumer the way Shell is here now, BP were over the Brent Spar, Nestlé on other occasions . Do you remember those things 905?
He was a bit Bolshie at times, I thought it made the book a little irregular at times. Personally I would have very little faith in the free market, can you see the Americans standing down over biofuels in the present climate for example? As I said, Stiglitz devoted a bit of his book to the whole notion. I take it we'll be doing Making Globalization Work next?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:47 am

Consumers are price driven in general. There was a study in the UK that showed that dirtier industry made a higher rate of profit and can also presumably keep prices lower.

I think the big lesson of the book is the importance of understanding the capacity of the environment and understanding what not to do to it - and the need to make radical changes and to adapt - like Tikopia.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:50 am

I actually bought it on the plane to Gran Canaria, it really is unputdownable.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:51 am

905 wrote:
He was a bit Bolshie at times, I thought it made the book a little irregular at times. Personally I would have very little faith in the free market, can you see the Americans standing down over biofuels in the present climate for example? As I said, Stiglitz devoted a bit of his book to the whole notion. I take it we'll be doing Making Globalization Work next?
Little faith .. Crying or Very sad It takes very little for word to get around the internetsphere and some company could have a boycott on their hands though.. what about ethical funds and investments? I think it's impossible to get away from business big or small was the point he was trying to make though.

No matter what we disagree on we'll agree on this: he's a treehugger.

Which Stiglitz book is on next?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:13 am

riadach wrote:
I actually bought it on the plane to Gran Canaria, it really is unputdownable.

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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