Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » August 2005 » Finale to "Collapse"

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08/14/2005: Finale to "Collapse"

In case you’re thinking all these interesting science techniques detailed in “Collapse” by Jared Diamond is a lot peculiar trivia and mere tid-bits of quasi-useless information:

Scientific American points this out in their monthly SA Perspectives Letter (Sept. 2005): Science at the Crossroads:

”…Geographer Jared Diamond’s recent book “Collapse” documents past civilizations that could not recognize or bring themselves to change unsustainable ways. Largely because of our science, our civilization has the chance to not only to avoid their fate but to enter an age of unprecedented prosperity. Science is not and should not be the sole factor in decision making; others; such as moral values; are also crucial. But we need to go into these decisions with out eyes open to what is going on in the world.

Here are some final thoughts from “Collapse”:

The main factors Jared Diamond identifies and illustrates with the various examples of societal collapses are:

· Environmental damage;
· Climate changes;
· Rapid population growth;
· Unstable trading partners;
· Pressure from enemies;
· Responses and Cultural values surrounding “changed conditions” signals.

Diamond writes:
”…[We] must already be struck by some parallels between Maya and the past societies...as on Easter, Mangareva, and among the Anasazi, environmental damage and population problems led to increasing warfare and civil strife….[P]eak population numbers were followed swiftly by political and social collapse….Like Easter Island chiefs erecting ever larger statures, and like Anasazi elite treating themselves to necklaces of 2,000 tourqouise beads, Maya Kings [seeking] to outdo each other with more and more impressive temples – reminiscent in turn of the extravagant conspicuous consumption by modern CEOs… [is the] passivity of Easter Chiefs and Maya kings in the face of real big threats to their societies…

[Likewise] Key decisions of Viking society were made by the chiefs, who were motivated to increase their own prestige, even in cases where that might conflict with the good of the current society as a whole and of the next generation.

This book is a very well done examination of past Societal failures. It is most important to understand the circumstances and issues that can be avoided with proper foresight and planning. It’s our Societal “ball to run with.” Given what we have learned and what we know, it would be unconscionable not to insist our leaders and governments make the changes necessary for the preservation of ALL.

Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:16 AM CST

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