Vision through a Narrow Lens

Vision through a Narrow Lens EE 16-3-Shaw_p2.qxd 30-6-05 9:52 am Page 541 Jane S. Shaw Senior Fellow, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), Bozeman, Montana. Email: shaw@perc.org As a writer and scientist, Jared Diamond is much admired, and rightly so. His leading accomplishment, showcased in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, was to re-introduce the role of geographic and environmental factors to the story of how the world’s civilizations developed. Diamond came up with non-controversial factors that explained, without belittling any group or region, why Eurasia had a head start in the path toward civilization. The chief factors were the east-west transportation axis of Eurasia and the availability of plants and animals that were easily domesticated. Leafing through Diamond’s most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, one expects a similar well-founded scholarship. And to a limited extent, the book does provide that. Diamond does begin to untangle some of the fascinating puzzles about the disappearance of distant civilizations, applying knowledge and insight to the mysterious Anasazi, the Norse in Greenland, the ancient Mayans, fabled Easter Island, and others. Just collecting what is known about these societies is a service. Yet describing environmental factors http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Energy & Environment SAGE

Vision through a Narrow Lens

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2005 SAGE Publications
ISSN
0958-305X
eISSN
2048-4070
D.O.I.
10.1260/0958305054672259
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

EE 16-3-Shaw_p2.qxd 30-6-05 9:52 am Page 541 Jane S. Shaw Senior Fellow, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), Bozeman, Montana. Email: shaw@perc.org As a writer and scientist, Jared Diamond is much admired, and rightly so. His leading accomplishment, showcased in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, was to re-introduce the role of geographic and environmental factors to the story of how the world’s civilizations developed. Diamond came up with non-controversial factors that explained, without belittling any group or region, why Eurasia had a head start in the path toward civilization. The chief factors were the east-west transportation axis of Eurasia and the availability of plants and animals that were easily domesticated. Leafing through Diamond’s most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, one expects a similar well-founded scholarship. And to a limited extent, the book does provide that. Diamond does begin to untangle some of the fascinating puzzles about the disappearance of distant civilizations, applying knowledge and insight to the mysterious Anasazi, the Norse in Greenland, the ancient Mayans, fabled Easter Island, and others. Just collecting what is known about these societies is a service. Yet describing environmental factors

Journal

Energy & EnvironmentSAGE

Published: Jul 1, 2005

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