Jared Diamond's Collapse

I don’t want to be the kind of person that comments on a book before I’ve finished reading it. In fact, in the case of Collapse, I’m about one-eighth of the way through, so I won’t be making any comment on the central thesis of the book yet.

I just want to note that the chapter in the beginning on the political, environmental, and social challenges facing the Bitterroot Valley of Montana are not much different than the last two places I’ve called home and the flipside is expressed in the place I grew up.

In a chapter in Collapse, Diamond uses his own narrative as well as the words of locals to discuss the problem. The old time farmers can’t make money because their land can’t produce enough profit because all of what they grow is grown cheaper elsewhere. Outsiders move in for the natural beauty making new land prohibitevely expensive. The conservative climate hates taxes and government, so there are few rules to control the growth, which may ultimately stifle even the demand for the natural vistas. The locals who are left there are poor and need to work several jobs to stay afloat and can’t realistically afford local housing. Most people’s children move away.

With very few differences, this could describe Hawaii or San Luis Obispo. I imagine in can describe almost anywhere in our post-middle class era.

Another town I used to live in, Apple Valley, California, just like Las Vegas, with its massive influx of people priced out of southern california (and Hawaii) reprsents the overflow where people go when they are NIMBY’d out of the other places. Now both of these places are likewise overflowing to the point that the the infrastructure is deteriorating or entirely overstretched.

(BTW, this is an excellent book!)

One thought on “Jared Diamond's Collapse”

  1. I started Collapse before school forced me to shelve it. The real mystery the polynessians who left “easter island” is: what was going through the mind of the last resident when he or she cut down the last tree?


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