Montana — A Modern Day Paradigm for Collapse?

Montana — A Modern Day Paradigm for Collapse? EE 16-3-Okonski_p2.qxd 30-6-05 9:53 am Page 493 Kendra Okonski Sustainable Development Programme Director, International Policy Network, London, UK Email: kokonski@policynetwork.net ABSTRACT Jared Diamond suggests that the US state of Montana is a modern paradigm for his theory of ‘ecocide’, where a society’s failure to recognise environmental degradation ultimately leads to its demise. However, Diamond’s analysis of Montana is factually flawed and lacks a historical understanding of institutions and incentives which have both caused problems and resolved conflicting ideas about how natural resources such as water, forests and minerals, should be managed. Montana is actually a modern paradigm for why the changing preferences and values of any society are best accommodated by institutions that enable values to be expressed through voluntary decision-making rather than through the political process. INTRODUCTION Chapter 2 of Jared Diamond’s Collapse utilises the US state of Montana as a modern paradigm for his theory of ‘ecocide’ – when people inadvertently destroy the environmental resources on which their societies depend.(Diamond, 6) In January 2005 at a lecture about Collapse, I was intrigued by Diamond’s discussion of Montana. I (a second-generation Montanan) asked Diamond for his opinion about how a society, such as that of Montana, might be http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Energy & Environment SAGE

Montana — A Modern Day Paradigm for Collapse?

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Publisher
SAGE Publications
Copyright
© 2005 SAGE Publications
ISSN
0958-305X
eISSN
2048-4070
D.O.I.
10.1260/0958305054672321
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

EE 16-3-Okonski_p2.qxd 30-6-05 9:53 am Page 493 Kendra Okonski Sustainable Development Programme Director, International Policy Network, London, UK Email: kokonski@policynetwork.net ABSTRACT Jared Diamond suggests that the US state of Montana is a modern paradigm for his theory of ‘ecocide’, where a society’s failure to recognise environmental degradation ultimately leads to its demise. However, Diamond’s analysis of Montana is factually flawed and lacks a historical understanding of institutions and incentives which have both caused problems and resolved conflicting ideas about how natural resources such as water, forests and minerals, should be managed. Montana is actually a modern paradigm for why the changing preferences and values of any society are best accommodated by institutions that enable values to be expressed through voluntary decision-making rather than through the political process. INTRODUCTION Chapter 2 of Jared Diamond’s Collapse utilises the US state of Montana as a modern paradigm for his theory of ‘ecocide’ – when people inadvertently destroy the environmental resources on which their societies depend.(Diamond, 6) In January 2005 at a lecture about Collapse, I was intrigued by Diamond’s discussion of Montana. I (a second-generation Montanan) asked Diamond for his opinion about how a society, such as that of Montana, might be

Journal

Energy & EnvironmentSAGE

Published: Jul 1, 2005

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