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Disciplinary Paraphrasing of Diamond

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Disciplinary Paraphrasing of Diamond

Benjamin G. Schmidt

The University of Oklahoma

 I certify that I have read the assigned material on academic integrity and this paper is an original paper composed by me for this course. It has not been copied or closely paraphrased from any other source and has not been submitted as a whole, or in part, for credit in any other course at OU or any other educational institution. It has not been created or submitted for any other purpose such as a job assignment at my workplace or any other agency.


Disciplinary Paraphrasing of Diamond

        Understanding the collapse of societies involves a multidisciplinary study of the variables causal to the downfall of the society. As Diamond (2003) claimed, societies fail for a variety of reasons. However, he identified five transformations prevalent in extinct societies: (1) availability of natural resources, (2) environment or weather phenomena, (3) relationships with allies, (4) relationships with enemies, and (5) sociological factors. This paper will examine Diamond’s criteria from multiple disciplines including ecology, economy, politics, mathematics, philosophy, religion, history, and sociology. By recognizing the multifaceted causes for collapse, societies can alter their future endeavors to avoid a similar fate.

        First of all, changes in the environment and ecology, whether self-induced or caused by drastic climate shifts, can cripple a society, as Diamond (2003) attested. For instance, severe drought, temperature change or natural disaster can affect a society’s ability to survive. However, because other societies live in extreme weather conditions, climate change is often not the only reason for a society’s failure. More likely, Diamond noted, the people disrupted the ecological balance through over-consumption of limited natural resources and did not develop a plan for sustainability. Diamond concluded that changes in climate and depletion of environmental resources could devastate a society to the point of collapse.

        Additionally, Diamond (2003) examined the economic and political influences that helped build the power and wealth of a society, and consequently, the short-term incentives that spelled disaster for its existence. He noted how many societies followed a relatively gradual increase in prosperity, yet they quickly dissolved after they peaked. One reason Diamond provided was the disparity between the short-term goals of the elite and the neglect of long-term sustainment and welfare. Quick profits enticed business leaders to deplete resources at a rate detrimental to the environment. In turn, government and political processes did not address the imbalance, and the empowered were immune to the repercussions of their actions, as Diamond stated. Once the society became too powerful, it imploded because the society exceeded its economic output. To summarize Diamond’s point, prominent societies rapidly collapsed after they reached the height of their power because they favored short-term riches over long-term prosperity.

         Furthermore, Diamond (2003) considered the discipline of mathematics as a way to understand societal collapses. He suggested calculating not just the difference between resources and consumption, but more importantly, deciphering the factors that cripple economic output. As he alluded, growing populations increase consumption dramatically until they reach a point where demand outnumbers supply, thus creating an unsustainable society. While mathematics allows people to understand economic sustainability through empirical evidence, people must also realize the effects that current consumption has on societal longevity, as Diamond warned.

        Next, Diamond (2003) highlighted the important role philosophy and religion played in the destruction of societies. Using both the Greenland Norse and people of Montana as examples, Diamond explained how deep-rooted philosophical ideologies and religious beliefs led to stubborn societies unable to adopt necessary changes for the betterment of their society. For the Norse, they spent an inordinate amount of capital on churches while the Montanans continued to follow their tradition of economic freedom without government interference. Simply stated, Diamond asserted that societies might need to alter their philosophical and religious customs to improve the future of their society and prevent its collapse.  

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