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Review of Jared Diamond’s Collapse

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Review of Jared Diamond’s Collapse

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collapseFollowing a tip from a fellow blogger, I watched the 2009 documentary, Collapse.  In this film, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert details his unnerving theories about the inexorable link between energy depletion and the collapse of the economic system that supports the entire industrial world.  Unnerving is putting in mildly.  Ruppert’s view of world collapse is frightening and depressing.

After watching that piece, I was nosing around on Netflix and saw that another collapse-type film was available for streaming so tonight I settled in to watch National Geographic: Collapse.  This time I got another view – a far less gloomy and cautiously optimistic view – of world collapse.

Unlike the Michael Ruppert, documentary, this National Geo film spins our world situation in a a bit more optimistic manner. It suggests that there is room for change and if we do  so our society will sustain.   But I digress.  Let me begin with the question:

Is our civilization so absorbed by the spoils of our success that we can not see the dangers right in front of us?

Collapse begins in 2210 as  archaeologists are looking backward to 2010 and making assumptions about our decision-making processes and how they affected the demise of civilization as we know it.  Using comparisons to the Mayans, the Romans, and the Anasazi, the documentary notes parallels in our cultures with each over-taxing resources such as water, food, and fuel.  The results?

  • Water Shortages
  • Famine
  • Environmental Disaster
  • Financial Ruin

Think about it.  If you look back in history, all of the above contributed to the demise of these ancient societies.  In the case of the Roman’s, we can add the separation of classes to Rich Elites and Working Stiffs (slaves).  Sound familiar?

This documentary is based on the book by Jared Diamond.   Until know, I was not familiar with his work but it is my understanding that the book goes into significantly greater detail about the potential collapse of our society and what we can consider as steps to mitigate a total and unequivocal breakdown.

Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition is the glass-half-empty follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. While Guns, Germs, and Steel explained the geographic and environmental reasons why some human populations have flourished, Collapse uses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking  colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart.
Not every collapse has an environmental origin, but an eco-meltdown is often the main catalyst, he argues, particularly when combined with society’s response to (or disregard for) the coming disaster. Still, right from the outset of Collapse, the author makes clear that this is not a mere environmentalist’s diatribe.
He begins by setting the book’s main question in the small communities of present-day Montana as they face a decline in living standards and a depletion of natural resources. Once-vital mines now leak toxins into the soil, while prion diseases infect some deer and elk and older hydroelectric dams have become decrepit. On all these issues, and particularly with the hot-button topic of logging and wildfires, Diamond writes with equanimity.

I found this to be a worthwhile and insightful documentary (which I rated 5 stars on Netflix).  It is a much kinder, gentler, and more optimistic view of our world than the Ruppert piece.  I came away with a renewed sense of mission not only to my personal prepping but also to my continued willingness to share my knowledge (as meager as it may be) with anyone that will listen.

Highly recommended.  BTW, Netflix also has Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel available for streaming.  Local libraries should have both Nat Geo documentaries as well.

Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!


Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day:  This is an incredible tip and something I just learned myself.  You know how your hair always looks better the second day after washing?  Well, the next time you wash your hair, try using just a little dab of shampoo mixed with a dab of conditioner.  That’s right.  Mix the shampoo and conditioner together and use this concoction to wash your hair.  Follow up with your normal conditioning.

Oh. My. Gosh.  You will not believe the difference.  Your hair will be shiny and smooth and not a bit dry or frizzy.  And did I say clean?  Plus, less shampoo and suds means that your hair color (if you are so inclined) will not be washed down the drain as quickly.  I am thrilled with the results and hope you are too.

From the Bargain Bin:  You know how I hate giving or receiving money as a gift.  Try gift cards instead.

Emergency Essentials is a great source of food for long term storage as well as supplies.  Their monthly specials are especially good.

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2 Responses to “Review of Jared Diamond’s Collapse”

  1. I read the book by Diamond some years back and enjoyed it. When the documentary came out on television, it was entertaining and informative. I liked it so much I bought the DVD for my professional library. I think it’s helpful to have read the book before you see the show because they had to live some things out of the latter that you really need to get the full experience. Money well spent in my opinion. I also liked “After Armageddon” which was on History Channel and focused on how people behave in a disaster.

  2. I am a school librarian working on inventory right now. I just scanned the 300’s and saw the book, Collapse by J. Diamond. I thought, “I forgot I had that. I should read it sometime.”
    Then I logged into my RSS feed and saw your post. I think someone is trying to tell me that I should check it out for the summer. (the universe, as George Ure would say)
    I read Michael Ruppert’s book last summer when I was at the beach. I will try to finish Diamond’s book BEFORE I go to the beach.

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