It’s been about 2 years since I last tried to read Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse. He wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel, which discussed how some civilizations rose to high technical advances and others remained at a Stone Age level. I had zipped through this book, finding it read like an Indiana Jones adventure. Collapse, on the other hand, discussed the demise of many advanced civilizations, which I found disheartening and stopped reading about two-thirds of the way through. Nevertheless, I recently picked it up and read it again. To my surprise, I am getting inspired.
This book is filled with examples of wrong decisions and how these decisions led to unsustainable living conditions. I started thinking about modern life and how we sometimes do things that don’t make any sense and yet we still do them. Here are some examples from the book: There is a theory that Easter Island, with the big stone tiki-head statues, became desolate when all the trees were cut down. Who would do such a non-survival thing like that? What would possess some group to do that?
Here is another example: 60% of Australia’s land area and 80% of the human water use is dedicated to agriculture, but the value of agriculture relative to other sectors of the Australian economy contributes less than 3% of the gross national product. Of that agricultural land, 99% makes little to no positive contribution to the economy, which is possible with the help of indirect government subsidies. It would almost make more sense for Australia to put its efforts into other sectors for growth.
One more example: A cows’ digestion produces methane gas twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions from cars in causing global warming. The author suggests that it may be more effective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing cattle production.
What does all this have to do with keeping fit? Perhaps, if we can decode why groups of people make non-survival decisions that wipe out whole civilizations, then maybe we can find the answers to why individuals make non-survival decisions that impact the quality and longevity of their lives.
How do you shift the whole nation’s idea that obesity is a train wreck waiting to happen on an individual, community, economic and future level? How many people do you know who are actively changing their lifestyles to make a dent into this problem? How many people do you know who think of this as a global problem that has far-reaching implications?
I focus on the topics you care about most.