Discussion World Forum  


Go Back   Discussion World Forum > Discussion Forums > Environment

Environment Climate Change, Pollution, Endangered Species, Industrial Agriculture, Degrading Habitats & Renewable Energy.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #11  
Old Jul 30th 2011, 09:50 PM
Non Sequitur's Avatar
Non Sequitur Non Sequitur is offline
Official Forum Lutheran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: The Kingdom on the Left and the Right
Posts: 2,142
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Well, looking at the data presented, that seems to be exactly it - these small and isolated societies approached problems in different ways - some succeeded and some failed for various different reasons. That's an interesting topic of study in my opinion.

And Diamond does make a further study of comparision of various 'features' in common for the disasterous decision-making societies. It does seem as if there are several notable features in common in those cases studied (successes and failures) - Diamond studies in detail the North Atlantic Norse settlements where several succeeded (Orkneys, Shetlands and Faroe Islands Iceland) while a couple failed (Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland). Likewise with several Polynesian colonized islands in the South Pacific Ocean - several succeeded despite being very tiny (less than two square mile island in one case, has maintained a population of about 1400 people for over 1000 years).

Btw, Iceland is a bit of a mixed case - the original settlement was a disaster and pretty much denuded the island of trees and vegetation. Iceland's subsequent poverty and eventual survivial seems to have involved substantial new immigrations and major adaptions to the environment.

Diamond points out that 'failures' tend to have geographic areas too large for one person to see and understand the landscape, but too small to produce a centralized government apparatus. This seems to apply to us, by the way.
Perhaps it's just that his conclusion rubs my predestinarian Calvinist instincts the wrong way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
The question is not about assigning 'blame' rather the question seems to be motivated by the desire to prevent our own society from making an equally disasterous decision. That is to say, some societies met challenges and succeeded - others failed in spectacular ways. Asking why is there a difference there might help us prevent our own extinction.
More seriously, I'm not talking about blame. My point is that the decisions may be disastrous, but at the time I believe that they were made for at least quasi-valid reasons and were probably good ideas from their perspective. On Easter Island, for example, it may have ended up being a disastrous decision to keep making those giant statues. However at the time I am pretty sure they thought it was a good idea to keep building them in order to placate the deities/ancestors/whatever (either that or to keep their honor). Evaluating such things as "disastrous decisions" only comes in after they are long gone.

Also, I am not chalking their decision up to ignorance. They could probably tell their island was falling apart. They probably couldn't describe it in scientific terms, but I am sure they could recognize a problem. Therefore I think their society evaluated what was going on and said "Hey, it's still necessary to build these giant heads." It is only by looking at their culture with our value system and the fact of their absence that we can say it was a disastrous decision.
__________________
Lighten our darkness.

Last edited by Non Sequitur; Jul 30th 2011 at 09:54 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Jul 30th 2011, 09:56 PM
Non Sequitur's Avatar
Non Sequitur Non Sequitur is offline
Official Forum Lutheran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: The Kingdom on the Left and the Right
Posts: 2,142
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Palven View Post
Even if all people require structure and direction, it doesn't neccesarily follow that these foundations and boundaries must be provided through a coercive pyramidal system with a Decider-in-Chief on top. Imagine there are no countries. Law Professor Butler Shaffer, among others, has done this, and has proposed a horozontally-arranged, non-coercive, stateless system, where, for instance, people could drive through the Americas without harrassment at "borders", which unlike borders in Europe that have have been eliminated, have become increasingly time-consuming and intrusive.
all human societal systems are coercive in this world. Community depends upon coercive force.
__________________
Lighten our darkness.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Jul 31st 2011, 09:16 AM
Americano's Avatar
Americano Americano is offline
Globetrotter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 8,614
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Palven View Post
Even if all people require structure and direction, it doesn't neccesarily follow that these foundations and boundaries must be provided through a coercive pyramidal system with a Decider-in-Chief on top. Imagine there are no countries. Law Professor Butler Shaffer, among others, has done this, and has proposed a horozontally-arranged, non-coercive, stateless system, where, for instance, people could drive through the Americas without harrassment at "borders", which unlike borders in Europe that have have been eliminated, have become increasingly time-consuming and intrusive.
Sounds utopian.
__________________
"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
~H.L. Mencken~
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Jul 31st 2011, 09:31 AM
Michael's Avatar
Michael Michael is offline
Administrator
Herder of Cats
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 14,823
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
More seriously, I'm not talking about blame. My point is that the decisions may be disastrous, but at the time I believe that they were made for at least quasi-valid reasons and were probably good ideas from their perspective. On Easter Island, for example, it may have ended up being a disastrous decision to keep making those giant statues. However at the time I am pretty sure they thought it was a good idea to keep building them in order to placate the deities/ancestors/whatever (either that or to keep their honor). Evaluating such things as "disastrous decisions" only comes in after they are long gone.
Yes, that's apparently so. But the decision making process that they used is very important for us to study specifically because those decisions were so disasterous.

And I repeat - the key thing that makes these issues worthy of study is the fact that so many other societies didn't fail. Indeed - it seems like the failures are the exception.

Bottom line is that Easter Islanders engaged in a decision process that ultimately resulted in their own extinction. That's a decision process we'd like to avoid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
Also, I am not chalking their decision up to ignorance. They could probably tell their island was falling apart. They probably couldn't describe it in scientific terms, but I am sure they could recognize a problem. Therefore I think their society evaluated what was going on and said "Hey, it's still necessary to build these giant heads." It is only by looking at their culture with our value system and the fact of their absence that we can say it was a disastrous decision.
No, we can look at the empty island and a extinct culture and that's what says it was a disasterous decision. There is no relative moral standard being applied here. Survival is good, extinction is bad. That's the only morality being assumed here. It doesn't matter what moral value the Easter Islanders put on the big statues - it caused their extinction regardless and that's something as a society we want to avoid.

We keep building bigger highways and more expensive cars based on hydrocarbon technology that is finate and running out. We are apparently repeating the Easter Islanders decision process - our highways and cars are just too important for us to give up.
__________________
Remember what the dormouse said: Feed your head!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Jul 31st 2011, 10:23 AM
Non Sequitur's Avatar
Non Sequitur Non Sequitur is offline
Official Forum Lutheran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: The Kingdom on the Left and the Right
Posts: 2,142
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Yes, that's apparently so. But the decision making process that they used is very important for us to study specifically because those decisions were so disasterous.
Perhaps my point is that i am finding it very hard to draw a comparison. I am not sure they would say, if informed of the future and effects of their decisions, that it was a disastrous decision. The comparison fails for me if i look at for more then a couple minutes. when I boil it down the point seems to be "hey these islanders,who decided for quasi tribal and religions reasons to build giant statues, destroyed their environment. Look at us today, we are destroying our environment. What are the similarities?" Of both they both destroyed the environment willfully, but any attempt at why reduces answers to generalities that are unhelpful.

Quote:
No, we can look at the empty island and a extinct culture and that's what says it was a disasterous decision. There is no relative moral standard being applied here. Survival is good, extinction is bad. That's the only morality being assumed here. It doesn't matter what moral value the Easter Islanders put on the big statues - it caused their extinction regardless and that's something as a society we want to avoid.
and that is such a huge assumption I find it hard to get beyond. And if that is the assumption, the lack of morality is quite disturbing.

Quote:
We keep building bigger highways and more expensive cars based on hydrocarbon technology that is finate and running out. We are apparently repeating the Easter Islanders decision process - our highways and cars are just too important for us to give up.
Except the decision making process isn't as easy as "stop building our modern world = survive."
__________________
Lighten our darkness.

Last edited by Non Sequitur; Jul 31st 2011 at 10:29 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old Jul 31st 2011, 12:17 PM
Michael's Avatar
Michael Michael is offline
Administrator
Herder of Cats
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 14,823
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
Perhaps my point is that i am finding it very hard to draw a comparison. I am not sure they would say, if informed of the future and effects of their decisions, that it was a disastrous decision. The comparison fails for me if i look at for more then a couple minutes. when I boil it down the point seems to be "hey these islanders,who decided for quasi tribal and religions reasons to build giant statues, destroyed their environment. Look at us today, we are destroying our environment. What are the similarities?" Of both they both destroyed the environment willfully, but any attempt at why reduces answers to generalities that are unhelpful.
I don't think it is unhelpful. I think there are meaningful lessons to be learned from history. Humans are humans and we tend to act in particular ways that we tend to repeat when we encounter apparently similar challenges. Analyzing successful and failed pattern responses is potentially good information.

I guess one point to make is that some Easter Islanders had to have noticed the progression of forest disappearance. Sure it took generations to happen, but some people had to have noticed that the big trees were not around any more or that the forests were getting smaller and smaller. Couple this with the fact that the largest stone statues ever built were the last ones erected and and the very last ones never completed. That says to me that there was a clear element of 'Nero fiddling while Rome burned' here.

We've talked about cognitive dissonance before. Our own society seems to be having a problem with this right now - coming to grips with the fact that our wonderfully comfortable and prosperous lifestyle is entirely dependent upon consuming massive amounts of a finite resource that we have evidence is being depleted at an alarming rate - yet we still build big new highways and fleets of new cars and airplanes - our economies depend on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
... and that is such a huge assumption I find it hard to get beyond. And if that is the assumption, the lack of morality is quite disturbing.
I find the apparent evil of God's creations to be equally disturbing.

But that doesn't mean I ought to ignore the potential extinction of the human race. Btw, if 'survival=good, extinction=bad' isn't a functional moral statement, I don't know what is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
Except the decision making process isn't as easy as "stop building our modern world = survive."
No it isn't.

But recklessly continuing to expand/build our modern world has a very high probability to wipe us out within the next century.

Failure to adapt to a changing environment (regardless of the reason) is the real reason a society will go extinct. Our environment is changing right now and we, like the Easter Islanders and the Greenland Norse are not adapting at all - we aren't even trying.

As Donkey noted above, I wonder if the Easter Islanders and the Greenland Norse engaged in outright denialism as is so evidently popular in our own culture in the present day?
__________________
Remember what the dormouse said: Feed your head!
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old Aug 2nd 2011, 06:21 AM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
Cranky Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,045
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Non Sequitur View Post
all human societal systems are coercive in this world. Community depends upon coercive force.

Flea markets and other free markets are societal systems that don't require coercie force. Government extortion and protection rackets which require coercive force go back before the divine rights of kings was established by Aquinas, but that doesn't mike them any more logically ethical or efficient than royal caste systems. No one has yet logically explained how one person acquires a right to rule another person and can transfer this riight to a third party such as a congresscritter or a member of a parliament. If you and I are equal and you don't personally have a right to tax me or run my life, how can you logically authorize someone else to do these things?

Last edited by Tom Palven; Aug 2nd 2011 at 06:29 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old Aug 2nd 2011, 12:14 PM
Non Sequitur's Avatar
Non Sequitur Non Sequitur is offline
Official Forum Lutheran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: The Kingdom on the Left and the Right
Posts: 2,142
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Palven View Post
Flea markets and other free markets are societal systems that don't require coercie force.
Nonsense. The Flea market assumes that the area is safe from crime and threats because of police power (aka coercive force). The Flea market assumes that if something is stolen they can call the police to apprehend the criminal (aka coercive force). The Flea market assumes that the building where transactions are happening is structurally safe because building codes are enforced (aka coercive force). And the Flea market assumes that if a contract is not upheld by both parties then a court can settle the conflict (aka coercive force). Where is coercive force not assumed in society?

As for free markets, the entire system assumes coercive force. It assumes judicial systems that can rule on contract law. The Free market assumes police power to enforce said contract law. It assumes laws and regulations permitting certain forms of labor and corporate organization. All this is coercive force that is necessary for the free market to work.

Quote:
Government extortion and protection rackets which require coercive force go back before the divine rights of kings was established by Aquinas, but that doesn't mike them any more logically ethical or efficient than royal caste systems. No one has yet logically explained how one person acquires a right to rule another person and can transfer this riight to a third party such as a congresscritter or a member of a parliament. If you and I are equal and you don't personally have a right to tax me or run my life, how can you logically authorize someone else to do these things?
I don't see how this is all that hard. American society as a whole has deemed certain forms of coercive force legitimate within certain bounds. The force of the majority, with certain checks to protect the minority, is deemed to be the force of law. The individual has certain rights against the group, but no where have we said that those rights supersede all power of the majority.
__________________
Lighten our darkness.

Last edited by Non Sequitur; Aug 2nd 2011 at 12:19 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old Aug 2nd 2011, 12:34 PM
dilettante's Avatar
dilettante dilettante is offline
Moderator
Resident Historian
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 3,082
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Palven View Post
Even if all people require structure and direction, it doesn't neccesarily follow that these foundations and boundaries must be provided through a coercive pyramidal system with a Decider-in-Chief on top. Imagine there are no countries....
The problem, for me, with imagining there are no countries is that, given what I know of human nature, one of the first thing that some of the imaginary people would do is organize themselves into structured societies with leaders, boundaries, laws, and yes even coercive force to uphold such laws. In short, they would create countries.

Then, these organized, orderly imaginary people would proceed to systematically kick the crap out of the country-less people around them, who are only united by their erratically rational notions of self-interested and loosely followed principles.

And soon everyone's back in countries, either because they were conquered or because they formed countries to resist conquest.
__________________
kyrie eleison
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old Aug 2nd 2011, 05:50 PM
Michael's Avatar
Michael Michael is offline
Administrator
Herder of Cats
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto
Posts: 14,823
Default Re: Collapse, by Jared Diamond

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Palven View Post
If you and I are equal and you don't personally have a right to tax me or run my life, how can you logically authorize someone else to do these things?
You and I are not equal. You and the government aren't equal either. In other words, assuming that you and I are equal is an error. We are not and there's nothing anyone can do about that fact. Pretenting that we are equal sounds nice in theory, but in reality, it falls down in the face of actual inequality.

And the government does have the clear-cut legal right to tax you and/or legally or logically delegate that authority to someone else.
__________________
Remember what the dormouse said: Feed your head!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:42 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2008 - 2017, DiscussionWorldForum.com