Basic info

To start things off, the book I read was Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond. The publisher is Penguin books and it’s ISBN is 978-0-14-311700-1 and for more info on the author you can check out his other major book Guns, Germs, and Steel or go to his personal website at 


The Message

Collapse is an in depth look into resource management throughout history starting with a current problem about the economic pressures in a rural Montana town and then it relates the issues they face to those faced by past societies. from their the book tries to work distinctly in the bounds of the importance of the choices those people made in their situations and how it lead to whether or not their society survived. he went over collapses in Anasazi, Maya, and Norse Greenland and how changes in the environment lead to the end of their society. afterwards the book regales us with stories of people who managed to survive like Tikopia and Tonga which then teaches us the way they thought which allowed them to survive. afterwards he goes onto the modern crises that we face such as China. The fourth major section of the book tries to explain why decisions that harm the environment get made in the first place. I’ts not a bad structure but I feel the first and fourth parts could have been used as enhancement to help keep your thinking varied in the other two parts and it would have made the book a more comfortable read as a whole.

The Point

The major points of this book are about how resource management is important for a functioning society, and how much more important it is now that the extent of bad resource management will have greater effects on society as a whole. it also tries to prove that we can make a sustainable future. these points are further exemplified in the latter half of part 2 in which he talks about how through various reforms or through smaller communities coming together to maintain the local areas integrity. I feel this is where the book shines because of the writers background in geography allowing the book to give deeper insights into resources than you could get from economics alone

Why does this matter

The importance of this topic comes from the very nature of our society where we avoid inconveniencing ourselves to the point where not everyone is accepting of the sustainability problem that we talked about earlier in the semester. because of this, the average person doesn’t think of resources turning our planet into a giant tragedy of the commons. and it emphasizes the need for our society to change to get through our modern environmental crises that many experts believe have reached a critical point where there is not much time left to change the way work.

What this book taught me

This book taught me a lot about troubles facing Montana from it’s failing logging industry, to the long term repercussions poorly managed mines have had on the local area. It also taught me to think of how cultures dwindle in more than just their military losing to a foreign one. I was also unaware of the most of the civilizations mentioned in the 2nd part only knowing a bit about the Mayan and Greenland downfall.

What should have been

To be honest, I can’t say there was anything that should have been. If anything, I could say what he did that was unnecessary, which would be that the Montana chapter was unnecessary and could have been worked into the past part allowing us to get into the meat of his point faster and also giving him a simple way bring attention to the important parts I also feel that the last part was mostly unnecessary because, many of the points either were or could have been brought up earlier in the book.

How it affected me

The affects the book had on me were a shift in the paradigm of my thoughts. before reading this I only had a basic understanding of resource management and only really understood marketable permits. but after reading this I now have a broader understanding of the concept and understand how important the governments role in the environmental economy as a whole. by thinking about the importance of a centralized body setting up systems that regulate how we use our land, or even if it’s just a bunch of local farmers the affects as a whole could end up astronomical.