Jared Diamond @ Long Now, 15-July-2005

Jared Diamond, UCLA professor and author of Guns, Germs and Steel and more recently Collapse spoke at the Long Now gathering tonight. I haven’t read the book, but I got the sense that he covered his main points in the talk (I thought GG&S was on target), with tales of Easter Island collapse and Japanese re-forestation.

Most interesting to me were his points about the difficulties that a society might have in responding to a threatening problem. Beyond simply anticipating or identifying it, he said two important points were: 1) whether the elite (rich) of the society are exposed to the problem or if they’ve insulated themselves and 2) whether the society has the capability to question and re-assess its own core values. Diamond says he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ – certainly there are reasons for hope that we can make it through a period of great change in terms of the basic resources (especially energy) that we have available to us on this planet.

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