Thomas Emmel
Director, McGuire Center for
Lepidoptera and Biodiversity
Florida Museum of Natural History

COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by Jared Diamond

I am holding this newest perceptive book by Jared Diamond, entitled COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. He addresses some of this century’s most pressing problems by first examining how some of the great civilizations of the past ended up collapsing. Why have some civilizations been doomed by their changes in the surrounding environment, while other civilizations were able to figure out solutions to rapid climate change, population growth, or ecological damage?

He then goes on to point out that today, we face similar environmental problems, with ominous warning signs appearing all over the world. I like Diamond’s forthright addressing of these problems, and his proposed solutions in terms of long-term planning, new management strategies, a shift in core values in societies, and making choices for our individual lives. We have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes, and we can hope with Diamond “that enough people will choose to profit from that opportunity to make a difference.” With those reasons for hope, the world will be a wondrous place for our children. Without succeeding, we doom the world environment to collapse catastrophically in many areas in less than 50 years.