Why Do Civilizations Perish? Analysis of Jarred Diamond's "Collapse"

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Term paper for “Intercultural Competence and Cross-Cultural Research” 6/21/2010

Why Civilizations Perish:
Past, Present and Diamond’s Hypothesis for tomorrow

Table of Contents
The Diamond Hypothesis4
The Mayan Society5
The Roman Empire9
China Present and Future14
People’s Republic of China14
Historical background15
China’s problem17
Diamonds five point framework vs. China20
Expected future23
Haiti and the Dominican Republic24
Application of Diamond’s Hypothesis25
Summary and Conclusion30
Overall Conclusion31

Civilizations have grown and some have perished in the past, due to different reasons. Depending on different scientists and facts, the reasons to past civilization falls are disputed. Some focus more on social reasons, while others focus more on ecological explanations. Looking at the current situation in the world, one might wonder if there is a risk for similar happenings today, or perhaps in the future and if there is anything to learn from the past and previous mistakes. With Jarred Diamonds book “Collapse” in focus for this report, written for the course “Intercultural Competence and Cross-Cultural Research”, his theories on why civilizations perish are discussed and compared to other facts that contradict stated in the book. Hypothesis

Is the Diamond theory always proven in different cases of perished societies and can it be applied on future outcomes? Method
The focus of our sources has been from the book, Collapse, by the author Jared Diamond. Other sources have been from the internet to find different point of views than those of Diamond. Emma Hamilton has covered the first part, Past, Attila Bodor has written about Chinas present and future and Maria Shishmanova has written about the neighboring countries Haiti and the Dominican Republic. All three have written the final summary and conclusion.

The Diamond Hypothesis
Jared Diamond was born in 1937 and is an American scientist and author. He has a history in ecology, ornithology, pysology, biophysics, geography and his popular science books are known to be a mix of these sources he has studied. Diamond wrote the book “Collapse- How societies choose to fail or succeed” in 2005 and is in the book focusing more on the ecological facts on why societies have fallen instead of the more typical historical and cultural reasons to explain failure. (Wikipedia, 2010) By the word collapse, Diamond means a drastic decrease in population size or drastic changes in the complexity of the society politics or economic situation or social structure. This is also defined to be over a larger area and during an extended period of time. This is to be differed from minor power shifts such a small rises or falls, usually connected to a neighbors linked and opposite fall or rise, and smaller reformations of for example the social or political structure. (Diamond, 2005) The Diamond Hypothesis works with a five point framework, buy explaining 5 different reasons why society falls: 1. Environmental damage explained by fragility, how vulnerability the area is to damage and of resilience, the potential for the area to recover from damage. These are both considered, by both human impact or by natural occurrence. 2. Climate change, only dealing with natural changes, which could make it either better or worse for the society. 3. Hostile neighbors, how well the society could can hold off enemies, when the community was weakened, either by health or society changes, it could be hard to fight off enemies 4. Friendly trade partners, neighbors who supported each other and less support from friendly neighbors could lead to a dramatic change and disaster. 5. The society’s response to the four explained threats, both environmental and other...
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