4. Future civilization that we should aim for

What we can learn from history

As Prof. Diamond pointed out in Collapse, current civilizations also face a wide range of environmental problems that have become increasingly serious such as deforestation, climate change, and water pollution. What should we do to avoid following the same path of destruction of past civilizations that failed?

Prof. Jared Diamond

Prof. Diamond suggests there are two things that we can do for the future. One is to develop a sustainable lifestyle. It is necessary for us to consume resources at a slower rate than they are produced to prevent them from running out; that is, like the old civilizations that survived by addressing environmental issues in better ways. If we properly manage the planets resources, forests and fisheries will be sustainable. Metal is recyclable, but fossil fuels such as petroleum and charcoal are not. Once they are gone, they cannot be renewed. Prof. Diamond tells us, therefore, that we should obtain energy from recyclable resources such as sunlight and wind.

The other is to not prioritize any single environmental problem, but to work on all of them at the same time. In his book Collapse, Prof. Diamond described 12 serious environmental problems (Please refer to "More details! in the Story Guide."), including the depletion of resources and climate change. However, it is important not to think in terms of individual priorities. We have many important issues to address for the future, not only one; and all of these are interrelated. For example, burning fossil fuels leads to greenhouse gas emissions and accelerates climate change. Even if most problems are successfully resolved, the remaining problem will continue to pose a threat to the planets health. Prof. Diamond emphasizes that we must resolve all environmental problems at the same time.
He tells us that one thing we can all do to make this happen is to vote because the best way to take a step forward toward addressing environmental problems is to support politicians and political parties that are eager to solve them.

Prof. Diamond is ever curious. He says that his interest never stops. At the age of 82, he is still healthy and active. In May 2019, he published his latest book Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, in which he uses comparisons between national and individual crises to tell us how we should face crises. He continues his study of birds, teaches at a college, practices piano, and studies foreign languages.

Bird watching near his home

Bird watching near his home

Carefully, but Optimistically

Prof. Diamond is a very careful man. Life in New Guinea has its dangers. Illness and injury can be fatal because of limited access to medical care. His experience with such dangers in New Guinea and the need for caution he learned from its people made him realize the importance of predicting risk. He is also careful about the future, but not pessimistic. This is because he knows that human beings have overcome difficult situations although we also made lots of mistakes in the past. Prof. Diamond himself has experience in overcoming difficulties as a researcher.

He believes that we will eventually solve the problems we have caused, and he wants the young generation to be careful, but optimistic, and live with hope for the future.



Prof. Jared Diamond