Diamond, of course, is the author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail of Succeed, a book that illustrated, in excruciating detail, the myriad varieties of blindness that human societies have over the years chosen over what we might call environmental realism. Elites, in particular, have a long track record of willful, and ultimately suicidal self regard, and it’s the attention that Diamond paid to this fact that made his book such a milestone.
This little op-ed unfortunately sets that key point aside. The divisions mentioned here are only divisions between rich nations and poor, as if the divisions between rich and poor within nations were not equally decisive. Still, it was good to see Diamond’s bald claim that …
The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world.”
… in the august pages of the New York Times. It was a fitting welcome to the new year. And it was, of course, a warning.