First, I don't agree with everything Diamond says. However, he makes it clear that he doesn't support single-cause explanations in any of these societal collapses. Secondly, I read "Collapse" in the context of having read the excellent "Guns, Germs and Steel"
several times - in which he makes clear the devastation created by European diseases on "native" cultures.
However, quoting from "Collapse": "Even before Magellan became the first European to cross the Pacific in 1521, abundant evidence attests to massive human impacts on Easter: extinctions of all the land bird species, disappearance of porpoises and tuna from
the diet, declines of forest tree pollen in Flenley's sedimentary cores before 1300, deforestation of the Poike Peninsula by around 1400, lack of radiocarbon-dated palm nuts after 1500, and so on". Significance of "disappearance of porpoises and tuna from
the diet" is that there were no trees left large enough to build the bigger canoes necessary to venture out far enough from shore to take porpoises and tuna.
There's no hard evidence of a European visit to Easter before Roggeeen's arrival in 1722. Diamond says, though, that the islanders nonchalant, unafraid and curious reaction to Roggeveen's ship suggest prior experience of Europeans.
But that couldn't have happened before Magellan...
The first specific mention of an epidemic on Easter is of smallpox, in 1836. Even Diamond doesn't believe that was the first epidemic, though.
He believes climate change may also have played a role, as did Easter's isolation from volcanically active areas - which provide a source of soil renewal in airborne ash etc. It was a combinations of factors.
Nothing is ever as simple as a single-cause explanation. But it sounds like you bought one. Did you really read Diamond's books?
Ram Dass I know, although haven't read much. I went a different route. Took up yoga in 1971, the book I had recommended vegetarianism and no alcohol if you wanted to make real progress. I haven't touched either since. It was clearly not necessary to kill
animals or fish for food or to stay healthy - so why do it? I have read "Stranger" many times.
Easter Island is one of the case studies in Diamond's book, "Collapse" - which I believe should be a core part of every school curriculum.
It's easy to be seduced by technology to the point where you ignore everything that isn't "technological progress". The key in this - as in everything else in life - is balance. From the reverse perspective, it's easy to decry technology as a "death force"
and ignore its benefits. Have you read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"?
Tolkien - as he says very categorically - despised allegory in all its forms. So he was not writing specifically about "Smashing Atoms" or about the evils of trench warfare in the First World War, as has been suggested. He left it to his readers to draw
their own parallels. Yours is a valid one.
"Knowledge" and "Wisdom" are definitely not the same. In my mind, for instance, there's no real difference between torturing prisoners to obtain information about an enemy's plans, and torturing animals to gain information about human diseases. We can only
justify the latter because most of us are what I call "Human Racists"; i.e. we believe humans are the Master Race and so can do anything we want to "sub-human" forms of life - eat them, experiment on them, exterminate them for the benefit of humans. Exactly
the reasoning Hitler and the Nazis used to justify the Holocaust. First convince people of the "sub-humanity" of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals etc. Then you can do whatever you want.
I agree. Over-population is the #1 issue, the cause of all the others. Tribal conflicts in Africa (like Rwanda, for instance) aren't REALLY about tribal differences. Those are really just convenient lines along which to separate people into THEM and US.
They're about too many people competing for too little (usable) land.
The ocean has been overfished because too many people eat too many fish. We drill in dangerous places because too many people burn too much oil. I could go on, and on, and on. But it's the ultimate cause of all the problems.
Jared Diamond's book, "Collapse" is a must-read. Read the history of ChacoCanyon, for instance. Then do some research on Los Angeles, - where its water comes from, where its power comes from, how the entire lifestyle of the city is built on cheap gasoline,
If we don't find a balance ourselves, nature will impose one. Widespread famine, or a nice plague with a 95% mortality rate, or...
And we don't have anything like 150 years.
I don't mean to be depressing. There are things that individuals can do. Like opting for a more sustainable lifestyle. Or - like some couples I know - opting not to have children.
You can't fix the world. But you can change yourself.
We should avoid nuclear. My father worked on the construction of Hunterston A nuclear power station in Scotland. It was a first-generation Magnox gas-cooled reactor, now being decommissioned. Its replacement was the Hunterston B station with two later-generation
Magnox gas-cooled reactors. Work started on those in 1967, and in 2006, British Energy found cracks in one of the two reactors, with almost a fifth of the 500 boiler tubes experiencing defects. Power Technology in August 2007 reported a sharp decline in output,
with the high operating temperatures having led to wear and tear. I am old enough to remember when nuclear power was being advocated as the Brave New Future. It would be clean, there were no real hazards, no-one mentioned nuclear waste, and these plants were supposed to produce electricity so cheaply it would eventually become
almost free. That certainly didn't happen. It was a myth.
"Only 65 direct deaths" is sophistry, and doesn't account for the much greater long-term effects of accidents like Chernobyl, where "Health officials have predicted that over the next 70 years there will be a 2% increase in cancer rates in much of the population"
exposed to radiation. Late in 1995, the
World Health Organisation (WHO) linked nearly 700 cases of thyroid cancer among children and adolescents to the Chernobyl disaster. Birth defects - some horrendous - have been documented.
The "new generation nuclear plants" are being brought to us in a collaboration between the people who gave us Three Mile Island and the people who gave us Chernobyl. And that's supposed to inspire confidence?
YAAAY, Niners! I posted this on YouTube and had 500 hits in a week. Channel9 already has more than twice as many - and it's been up just a few hours! Thanks so much for your interest and support!
In reply to figuerres: I've actually been thinking that alternative energy might end up being Bill Hill 6.0
We installed solar hot water here, then we installed a 24-panel PV system, with battery backup. We can be off the grid if we want, and there's more than enough power most days to keep an electric car fully charged for all the miles we do. It wasn't cheap
but it has proved it's absolutely feasible to say, "I'm DONE WITH OIL!" Plastics, of course also need to be tackled as IDWMaster says above.
Next: We haven't eaten anything but raw food for the past six months - all of it organic, most of it bought locally at the farmers' market. I wouldn't have believed it but I enjoy my food more than ever and don't miss cooked food at all. And don't give me
the protein fallacy, because I've been surfing almost every day for more than a year.
Our range is propane. But the only thing we were using it for was boiling water for tea. So we bought an electric kettle and now we're off propane too.
I'm waiting for the right vehicle and we'll go electric.
Now, we live on Kauai where's there's lots of sun. But our neighbor in Carnation, WA heats his home all year round - even when there's snow on the ground - using only geothermal. He dug out a pond, ran pipe at the bottom.
In the 1980s and 1990s everyone wanted to be a software engineer. That's where the growth was. I believe in the coming decades the growth will be - has to be - green energy. Smart software has a role to play there too.
I believe President Obama needs to announce the 2010 equivalent of President John F. Kennedy's "Put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade" mission. Something like: "We will enable every American to drive 400 miles a day and heat and run their home without
any use of fossil fuels by 2020". And then he needs to put in place a budget, similar to NASA's during that mission. I'd gladly see my tax dollars used for that.
Anyway, I'm doing a lot of research, wondering if I really want to set up a company, and considering what it might do. But I have to do something. There's Only One Ocean.
Thanks for posting this, Charles! I think this is actually Bill Hill 5.0
John Leighton Beezer, who plays the two great guitar solos, is a former Microsoft Program Manager on the old eBook team...
The music is a track from my new CD, "Dancing With The Dragon", which will be out in the next few weeks. It was all written about living and surfing here on Kauai. "One Ocean" was written while paddling out to my surf break - The Dragon. I started thinking
"We call oceans 'Atlantic', 'Pacific' and so on. But they're really all joined. There's only one ocean. The dolphins don't care what we call parts of it. They go wherever they want". I meet dolphins and green sea turtles out there almost every day.
I'd finished recording and mastering all the tracks. Then a few weeks later, the Gulf Oil Disaster happened. I started thinking:"How would I be feeling right now, if I knew there was a huge oil well blowout 30 miles from Hanalei Bay, and we were just waiting
for the oil to come ashore? It would be the end of everything I love. The dolphins and turtles would be dead. You couldn't go in the ocean. You wouldn't even want to walk on the beach."
And that's when I realized I had to do something. I decided to use the track "One Ocean" to help focus attention on the need to protect the ocean. So I started filming. I bought a $270 GoPro HDSurf camera and attached it to my standup paddleboard. I used
the same camera to film the turtles, dolphins, and for the underwater shots. And I started learning video production techniques, scripting and storyboarding. Remember, I was a writer and editor for almost 20 years before I go involved with software.
I've offered free use of the song and/or video to any organization working to protect and conserve the ocean.