Book Review, Collapse by Jared Diamond

WANJOHICollapse is the most intense book I’ve read regarding civilized nations and how they bring themselves to near extinction status. Kenya is preparing to go into elections this August. The situation is bleak. Just like Puerto Rico, we are deeply immersed in bad debt. I don’t know why someone would waste his campaign funds to inherit such sludge its bad over there. So bad that food security has already become a threat and investors are hoarding production, and importation of goods. Elections in Africa are all about stability. The presidential candidates must have a clear road map to assure investors of a steady economy through their terms. It’s such a headache, being peaceful, and reorganizing your company’s strategies around electioneering periods in Africa.

Collapse explains in detail why nations succeed or fail. When reading this, and comparing it to my country Kenya, we deal with far urgent issues than environmental dangers. Ours is a different scenario, but delving more into the book, Collapse explores how stable empires died into oblivion due to their stupid mistakes. We can borrow a few leaves from this fantastic analysis based on Jared Diamond’s deeply researched reasoning.

The first is the ecological damage produced by countries. We have witnessed how societies cut down trees to pave the way for massive real estate projects and to provide fuel as well as building material. The most obvious act is replacing the fallen trees with new seedlings to continue with the natural ecological cycle. But many countries ignore this basic principle. The looming danger is, of course, soil erosion which distorts farming activities leading to food shortage and a threat to animal survival. Look around you and notice how many rivers have dried up. Yea, it’s bad, but wasn’t bad enough as you collected abundant harvests almost twenty years ago.

The second issue is global warming or climate change. Nowadays it’s hard to predict weather patterns due to the ever changing climate conditions. Many regions have now become colder, drier, or hotter, and when it rains, the heavenly waters just wash away all our sins without a care for home preservation. Everything is swept away within hours! Of course, when it happens for the first time we may not be prepared to handle the aftermath. We all know the nasty hurricanes of the US and the unforgiving landslides and earthquakes in Japan.

The third feature is the closeness to hostile countries. In Kenya, we have weathered Somali’s brutal economic savagery and Sudan’s civil wars. Peace has become elusive in these two nations, but time will come when they will face extinction. We cannot exist in fear of murderous chaotic neighbors. If you remember how the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under German attacks, then there must be hope for us East Africans.

The fourth aspect is losing the support of trading partners. We’ve had a couple of conflicting issues in East Africa as the leadership continues to change every decade. Talks with Tanzania and Uganda of merging the shilling and the three economies provide great hope for the future of this region. According to Jared, most societies need commodities from other countries to survive. If that support got cut, the social order might collapse. A good example is Europe’s over-reliance on third world oil-rich nations to supply oil to them.

The final reason is how societies respond to all the mentioned factors. A near perfect example of Eco-preservation is the Inuits living in Greenland. Notable nations that managed to save their environment are New Guinea, the Tonga People, and Japan. These have developed excellent forestry programs that still work to date. Fortunately, many countries have taken great strides to rectify past mistakes to pave the way for a safe future for many more generations to come. In Kenya, we are geared up to say goodbye to all forms of polyethylene bags from 28th August 2017.This is a brave move I must add.



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