Collapse by Jared Diamond: Part Four

One of the main issues tackled in this part is the impact of globalization on the business world. He explains that globalization has made it possible for materials to move beyond borders. It has allowed for market expansion and development of unlikely continents, which possibly without the concept of globalization would have remained under-developed for a long time. However, the globalized system has brought several problems, op among them being that economies are now completely linked. The collapse of one economy, could eventually lead to collapse of several economies. For instance, an increase in the price of oil in the production regions could indeed cripple all economies. In addition, the newly developing countries are facing even more misuse and exploitation of their natural resources as they try to meet the demand of the other nations. Countries that were beautiful and had high deposits of natural resources and minerals, are diminishing the said resources faster than the same is being produced.

Diamond also shows concern that international trade has opened doors for increased and expansion of international crime. Criminals take advantage of countries whose laws are more lenient to expand their criminal empires. Drugs and human trafficking have expanded to other borders, with countries that are yet to catch up in terms of laws and regulations suffering the most.

The desire to become like other societies, Diamond points out in the first part of part four, is one of the reasons for their collapse. He shows how societies are often lured to participate in foreign trade, to bring their goods to the market and take aid from other countries for development. While these decisions seem ideal in the short run, they are disastrous in the long run. In the pursuit to meet the market needs and pay off the aid given to them, countries over-exploit their resources and soon run out of their natural resources.

However, it should not be assumed that countries are not aware of the problems they are failing as Diamond shows, they are indeed aware and attempt to find solutions t some of the problems in society. Unfortunately many of the solutions they seek are not sustainable.  In fact many of the solutions sought are only short term, and though they seem to be working during the short duration, failure is almost always guaranteed. It seems that the societies, fail to perceive some of the challenges and problems that come from the short term solutions.

The environment and the businesses

Diamond summarizes what he has explained in the last chapters, the collapse of society following misuse of environmental resources. In this part, though he focuses on the growth of large businesses and the impact they have had on the environment. For example, exploitation of oil reserves has become a booming business, with the oil companies focused on only one objective: to make more money in a short period. Competition drives the companies to mine even more, exploiting the resources without interest in the future generations. These extreme cases of harvesting oil using crude methods interfere with future production. In future, the access to oil will be very limited. This decrease in production of oil has caused a rise in the price of fossil fuel, a fundamental requirement globally. With few companies monopolizing the production and distribution of oil and with their desire to make as much profit as possible, the cost of oil will be so high that it might be affordable to the rest of the world.

The continued resource extraction, without concern for future generations will definitely become an issue in the future. Future generations may not have any resources to rely on. Diminishing forest resources, increased hard rock mining and increased extraction of sea food, will put the suture generation is businesses and large companies are not monitored.  This is in general agreement with many researchers, who believe that large multi-nationals have taken over and are running the economies and the future of natural reserves to the ground.  Governments and international bodies need to take their responsibility seriously holding these multi-nationals accountable for their exploitation. The resources should be used in such a way that they remain sustainable even though this may actually mean a decrease in the profits for the company.

The polder world

The model popular among the Dutch seems like the most ideal solution to control large companies. This model includes a three way relationship, between the employers’ representatives, the consumers and the government. All parties must agree on what steps should be taken and how the companies can proceed.  In the past, this model has been criticized heavily by politicians as the slowest decision making process, sometimes being blamed for stagnation. However, the rise of media and globalization becomes more apparent the polder model becomes easier and more necessary.

Economists have all agreed that bringing together all groups involved in the markets, educate and train each of them, to uphold their end of the bargain. When each of these facets cares for their environment, and takes responsibility for the part they have played in the damage, and participate actively in the decision making process.  Sustainable solutions can only be found when all members actively participate and uphold their end of the bargain. This means that all members of the society are working hard towards ensuring that the natural resources are well cared for. If the most serious problems in the world are not tackled together as a society, then civilized societies will be faced with imminent destruction and collapse. Diamond indicates that without sustainable solutions, the collapse and destruction of the world and its resources will come even sooner than we imagine.

The fourth part of Diamond’s collapse book; not only summarizes some of the problems that he considers to be ailing the world; it also provides hope. It can be thought of as the light at the end of the tunnel. The world is not completely doomed there are ways to find the right solutions which can be used to bring back the fruitfulness and raise up the societies within which we live in.  This part shows that despite the dismal elements that seems to be facing society, Diamond still has a sense of hope that the future can be saved.


Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.

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