Vision through a Narrow Lens

Energy & Environment
Vol. 16 No. 3&4 2005

By Jane S. Shaw

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond's new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed argues that past societal collapses have occurred in large part because the societies failed to adapt to changing environmental conditions. He warns that modern societies and civilization too may be failing to adapt and may be on the brink of collapse. He uses conditions in western Montana as a template for this grim warning.

An extensive critique of Diamond's claims has been published in a special issue of Energy & Environment, a British peer-reviewed journal (Vol. 16, Nos. 3 & 4, 2005). Editors of the special issue are Julian Morris and Kendra Okonski of the International Policy Network.

PERC Senior Fellow Jane S. Shaw contributed an article, "." She explores why Diamond, a respected scientist, wrote a book that makes such extreme claims about the future.

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Before joining PERC, Jane Shaw was a journalist who had developed an uneasy feeling that much of the commentary about environmental policy that she read--and even some that she wrote--was tilted in the wrong direction. The usual solution to an environmental problem was to turn it over to the government. She had become uncomfortable with this...
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