Back in December of 2004, when Jared Diamond’s Collapse came out, I decided that I wouldn’t buy it. I simply didn’t want a Paul Ehrlich-1970s-style-downer book about the environment marring my otherwise sunny disposition. I’m not brave Oedipus: I don’t necessarily want to know the whole truth of everything. I’ve got kids to bring up, and I want to raise them with at least a bit of hope. There are some things that I think it might be best for me to close my eyes to right now (at the admitted risk of tearing them out later: Oedipus’s ultimate fate might not be avoidable, looking or not).
But really, avoidance is not the right way to be in the world, is it?
And so, periodically, I feel the guilty tug of conscience that I should read Jared Diamond’s book, and sometimes it will call to me. So on Friday, in a warm-up to reluctantly buying the book (six years later, and now used and inexpensive at Amazon), I actually watched Jared Diamond’s TED talk. I thought that his TED talk was powerful when I first watched it on Friday, but over the weekend I found that power—rather than abating—building, and haunting me. Today, I therefore embed it here at my blog for sharing:
Diamond’s book is relevant to an environmental controversy in the San Francisco Bay Area where the native plant movement is demanding the eradication of millions of non-native trees. Deforestation is the only factor that all Diamond’s examples of failed societies have in common.
This post on the Million Trees blog asks native plant advocates to reorder their environmental priorities to make forest preservation a higher priority than their commitment to native plants and trees (of which there are locally few): http://milliontrees.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/a-history-lesson/.