Skip to content

Collapse – by Jared Diamond


I thought Guns, Germs and Steel was a brilliant book; and this work from Jared Diamond far surpasses it.

We hear many important messages all the time, but there’s nothing like a good story to add impact. Except, maybe, a true story. Or maybe a dozen true stories. If you pick up this book in a bookstore and read the jacket and the cover, you’ll know that this is a book describes societies in the past and the present that have faced challenges to their survival, mainly due to exhausted or severely depleted resources that they were dependent on. Each story is wonderfully told, as gripping as a fantasy epic. Yet through his writing, the author manages to convey that these were humans, just like us and lived through choices just as we do. Jared Diamond critically analyzes all known aspects of a society and condenses to a few major points the salient reasons why a society collapsed, or why it survived. That in itself is a great read, always thought-provoking and often mind-blowing.

Then we come to the smaller, but far more impactful part of the book; where we’re shown the resource management problems of today’s world – growing population, reducing soil fertility, loss of biodiversity, air pollution, forest cover reduction among others. We’re told how each one of them are created, how people, nations and business are trying (or not) to solve them, and how significant the potential impact on our lifestyles can be. In his words,

Our world society is presently on a non-sustainable course, and any of our 12 problems of non-sustainability that we have just summarized would suffice to limit our lifestyle within the next several decades. They are like time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years.

…because we are rapidly advancing along this non-sustainable course, the world’s environmental problems will get resolved, in one way or another, within the lifetimes of the children and young adults alive today. The only question is whether they will become resolved in pleasant ways of our own choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice, such as warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapses of societies.

And well, at the end of the day, all I can say is – he proves his point. This is not environmentalism for it’s own sake; the arguments made are scientific and rock-solid. Just reading about the collapses made me think of how little attention we pay to how our resources are consumed. Coupled with the analysis at the end of the book, the overall effect is extremely sobering.

I feel there isn’t a single person who will not benefit by reading this book – it’s message is too important to ignore, and too well-conveyed to resist.

Rating: 5 / 5