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BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...

Amos 01 Jan 05 - 08:32 PM
Bobert 01 Jan 05 - 08:36 PM
Rapparee 01 Jan 05 - 08:44 PM
Amos 01 Jan 05 - 09:37 PM
Amos 01 Jan 05 - 10:04 PM
CarolC 01 Jan 05 - 10:20 PM
Shanghaiceltic 02 Jan 05 - 03:28 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Jan 05 - 06:17 AM
*daylia* 02 Jan 05 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Sidewinder 02 Jan 05 - 11:16 AM
dianavan 02 Jan 05 - 12:27 PM

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Subject: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Amos
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 08:32 PM

In a long, intelligent, well-informed and interesting editorial in the NY Times, Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel offers an analysis on the things that makes civilizations like ours in the US fail or survive. An excerpt:

"In this New Year, we Americans have our own painful reappraisals to face. Historically, we viewed the United States as a land of unlimited plenty, and so we practiced unrestrained consumerism, but that's no longer viable in a world of finite resources. We can't continue to deplete our own resources as well as those of much of the rest of the world.

Historically, oceans protected us from external threats; we stepped back from our isolationism only temporarily during the crises of two world wars. Now, technology and global interconnectedness have robbed us of our protection. In recent years, we have responded to foreign threats largely by seeking short-term military solutions at the last minute.

But how long can we keep this up? Though we are the richest nation on earth, there's simply no way we can afford (or muster the troops) to intervene in the dozens of countries where emerging threats lurk - particularly when each intervention these days can cost more than $100 billion and require more than 100,000 troops.

A genuine reappraisal would require us to recognize that it will be far less expensive and far more effective to address the underlying problems of public health, population and environment that ultimately cause threats to us to emerge in poor countries. In the past, we have regarded foreign aid as either charity or as buying support; now, it's an act of self-interest to preserve our own economy and protect American lives.

Do we have cause for hope? Many of my friends are pessimistic when they contemplate the world's growing population and human demands colliding with shrinking resources. But I draw hope from the knowledge that humanity's biggest problems today are ones entirely of our own making. Asteroids hurtling at us beyond our control don't figure high on our list of imminent dangers. To save ourselves, we don't need new technology: we just need the political will to face up to our problems of population and the environment.

I also draw hope from a unique advantage that we enjoy. Unlike any previous society in history, our global society today is the first with the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of societies remote from us in space and in time. When the Maya and Mangarevans were cutting down their trees, there were no historians or archaeologists, no newspapers or television, to warn them of the consequences of their actions. We, on the other hand, have a detailed chronicle of human successes and failures at our disposal. Will we choose to use it?

(Jared Diamond, who won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies," is the author of the forthcoming "Collapse: How Societies Choose or Fail to Succeed.")


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 08:36 PM

tick, tock, tick, tock, tick.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Rapparee
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 08:44 PM

Historically, humanity (not just the US) doesn't confront a problem until it's nearly too late.

We have unprecedented amounts of information. We have the ability to synthesize a reasonable response in good time.

Whether we have the wisdom to do so is another matter entirely.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Amos
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 09:37 PM

There is a whirlwind of noise about technological innovation, but there is no immediate solution forthcoming to the two core material issues on which all else hinges: water and energy. Solve those and all else follows.

There is a whirlwind of noise about paths of action and moral and spiritual crises, but there is no immediate remedy in the humanities for the two great failings of our civilizattion: ethics and intelligence. Solve those....and all else follows.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Amos
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 10:04 PM

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure." - H.L.Mencken


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: CarolC
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 10:20 PM

Interesting article, Amos.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 03:28 AM

I think I will have to get a copy of his book. He hits the nail on the head.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 06:17 AM

Guns, Germs and steel is brilliant well evidenced and argued case for why power and wealth are the way they are.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: *daylia*
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 10:21 AM

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority Wise words! Thanks for that Amos, and for the interesting article too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: GUEST,Sidewinder
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 11:16 AM

Ain't it a drag when everyone agrees? At the heart of all this, there is the simple fact that throughout history the motivations of greed and power have far outwieghed any identifiable long/short term risks. And moves for multi or unilateral initiatives put forward for enhancement in any sphere of environmental, ecological or societal development are viewed as secondary issues because sustainable Domestic Economic Growth is the primary concern of every developed nation (we live in the now - i.e I want for nothing, my kids want for nothing, and beyond that I don't give a damn). In recent years moviegoers have seen on the big screen what will happen if we continue in the FMCS mode we are in, and even in graphic detail, it does not shock the masses from their apathy.

God Help Us All.

Sidewinder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Jared Diamond on Civilizations' Fate...
From: dianavan
Date: 02 Jan 05 - 12:27 PM

Listened again to David Suzuki's daughter say that 'passing the torch' to the younger generation is just another excuse for not doing anything about it. She also said that young people need older people to show them how - to serve as role models.

Words of wisdom from such a young girl.

I had great ideas when I was young but nobody listened because I was just an idealistic youth. As an older, more established member of society, I have found that people actually do listen to me and that I have the power to move my ideas forward.

I challenge all of you to use your power as an elder to do all that you can to help solve our environmental, social and ethical problems. Make small steps in your everyday life and then move those ideas into the community. Instead of waiting for the government to solve problems, start a movement at the grassroots level and watch it grow. Become a role model. Show the young how to do it.

Make it a New Year Resolution.


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