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I wonder if I could ask you about California in particular. California has problems like every other place in the world. But California makes me optimistic. It does have the environmental problems but nevertheless we have, I would say, one of the best state governments, if not the best state government in the United States. And relatively educated citizens.

And we have the best system of public education, of public higher education in the United States. Although, I, at the University of California, know very well that we are screaming at the legislature for more money. It must begin to impose some kind of psychic cost. Well, I understand psychic costs and I understand getting my head around it because I was born and grew up in Boston. The last straw for me was that in Boston I sang in the Handel and Haydn Society chorus, and we were going to perform in Boston Symphony Hall the last week in May and our concert was canceled by a snowstorm that closed Boston down.

And for me that was the last straw. I do not want to live in a city where a concert in Symphony Hall is going to get closed down in the last week of May by a snowstorm. Similarly with New York. But, thank God for all those things because they saved me from the psychic costs of living in the Northeast.

I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraineā€¦. You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time! He is expected to remain nonexecutive chairman of We Co.

With the proposal, Mr. But while Ms. Warren came first, Mr. Sanders is going bigger. His wealth tax would apply to a larger number of households, impose a higher top rate and raise more money.

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Parliament is now likely to reconvene before Oct. Trump capped off a wild day on Monday by making fun of year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. The FBI has arrested a U. On Aug. Already a subscriber? Log in or link your magazine subscription. Account Profile. Sign Out. Jared Diamond. Most Viewed Stories. State of the World. By David Wallace-Wells. Most Popular. A number of key swing-district representatives have endorsed the procedure for the first time in the wake of the Ukraine story. So nice to see! Energy expert Vaclav Smil believes we must walk away from growth to keep the climate stable.

Not that he thinks we will. Another poll shows Warren gaining ground in an early-voting state. General Assembly. The two farms were similar in area a few square miles and in barn size, Huls barn holding somewhat more cows than Gardar barn vs.

Lessons From The Past

The owners of both farms were viewed as leaders of their respective societies. Both owners were deeply religious. Both farms were located in gorgeous natural settings that attract tourists from afar, with backdrops of high snow-capped mountains drained by streams teaming with fish, and sloping down to a famous river below Huls Farm or fjord below Gardar Farm.


Those were the shared strengths of the two farms. As for their shared vulnerabilities, both lay in districts economically marginal for dairying, because their high northern latitudes meant a short summer growing season in which to produce pasture grass and hay. Because the climate was thus suboptimal even in good years, compared to dairy farms at lower latitudes, both farms were susceptible to being harmed by climate change, with drought or cold being the main concerns in the districts of Huls Farm or Gardar Farm respectively.

Both districts lay far from population centers to which they could market their products, so that transportation costs and hazards placed them at a competitive disadvantage compared to more centrally located districts. On a larger scale, the economies of the countries in which both farms lay rose and fell with the waxing and waning of threats from distant enemy societies. The biggest difference between Huls Farm and Gardar Farm is in their current status.

Achieving Sustainable Societies: Lessons from Modelling the Ancient Maya

Huls Farm, a family enterprise owned by five siblings and their spouses in the Bitterroot Valley of the western U. It is inconceivable that the United States in general, and Huls Farm in particular, will collapse in the foreseeable future.

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But Gardar Farm, the former manor farm of the Norse bishop of southwestern Greenland, was abandoned over years ago. Greenland Norse society collapsed completely: its thousands of inhabitants starved to death, were killed in civil unrest or in war against an enemy, or emigrated, until nobody remained alive. Yet when Gardar Farm and Norse Greenland were at their peak, their decline seemed as inconceivable as does the decline of Huls Farm and the U.

Let me make clear: in drawing these parallels between Huls and Gardar Farms, I am not claiming that Huls Farm and American society are doomed to decline. At present, the truth is quite the opposite: Huls Farm is in the process of expanding, its advanced new technology is being studied for adoption by neighboring farms, and the United States is now the most powerful country in the world. Nor am I claiming that farms or societies in general are prone to collapse: while some have indeed collapsed like Gardar, others have survived uninterruptedly for thousands of years.

Instead, my trips to Huls and Gardar Farms, thousands of miles apart but visited during the same summer, vividly brought home to me the conclusion that even the richest, technologically most advanced societies today face growing environmental and economic problems that should not be underestimated. Many of our problems are broadly similar to those that undermined Gardar Farm and Norse Greenland, and that many other past societies also struggled to solve. Some of those past societies failed like the Greenland Norse , and others succeeded like the Japanese and Tikopians.

The past offers us a rich database from which we can learn, in order that we may keep on succeeding. The phenomenon of collapses is thus an extreme form of several milder types of decline, and it becomes arbitrary to decide how drastic the decline of a society must be before it qualifies to be labeled as a collapse. By those standards, most people would consider the following past societies to have been famous victims of full- fledged collapses rather than of just minor declines: the Anasazi and Cahokia within the boundaries of the modern U.

Efforts to understand past collapses have had to confront one major controversy and four complications. The controversy involves resistance to the idea that past peoples some of them known to be ancestral to peoples currently alive and vocal did things that contributed to their own decline. We are much more conscious of environmental damage now than we were a mere few decades ago.

Even signs in hotel rooms now invoke love of the environment to make us feel guilty if we demand fresh towels or let the water run. To damage the environment today is considered morally culpable.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed - Wikipedia

The supposed discoveries by paleontologists and archaeologists sound to some listeners like just one more racist pretext advanced by whites for dispossessing indigenous peoples. Not only indigenous peoples, but also some anthropologists and archaeologists who study them and identify with them, view the recent supposed discoveries as racist lies.

Some of the indigenous peoples and the anthropologists identifying with them go to the opposite extreme.

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They insist that past indigenous peoples were and modern ones still are gentle and ecologically wise stewards of their environments, intimately knew and respected Nature, innocently lived in a virtual Garden of Eden, and could never have done all those bad things.