A timely reminder about the influence of Jared Diamond.


Guns, Germs and Steel may be Jared Diamond’s signature achievement, but for unknown reasons, Collapse affected me more deeply. Both are due for rereading. So much to learn, so little time.

INFLUENCES: JARED DIAMOND, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

… A couple of years before the housing crisis, I came across his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, which taught me again how to think systematically about places, people and societies. The mental image of the Norse Greenlanders, too stuck in the hierarchy of their culture to consider changes necessary to their survival, refusing to eat seal or fish and perishing from starvation while the Inuit, living in parallel, demonstrated a viable way to survive, was powerful. To think of the Eastern Islanders tearing, down every tree on their island (growth at all costs) until they could not even build a boat to leave when the society — tens of thousands — descended into starvation and cannibalism cutting their numbers to a few hundred, is chilling. These case studies are powerful because we’re the same people with the same motivations and likely to make the same rationalizations until it is too late.