Diamond, Bird Watcher turned biologist, and historian/anthropologist, geographer.
The opening talks about the beginning of their colonization, and New Guinea’s religious reverence for our cargo, showing a photo of a native with a Kelloggs cereal box made into a headpiece.
What are we grateful for? More like, for what are we grateful to not have… and why? and how?! It is just as likely that the connection between a civilization’s technology and our conception of their greatness is totally incorrect; this moral and/or natural inequality is all a matter of our bias… and chance.
Its really cool to learn about climate change, like how the Middle East was far less arid 13,000 years ago. And then, things got colder and drier for a thousand… and then granaries!!? And growing! The first farmers; the first domestic gods.
Differences between peoples result from the differences in the kinds of crops, their ease of planting and nutrition – geography in general, and thereby also the other animals (including their hair and dung) that eat from the food… “an extremely attractive package.” The best animals to tame are nice, large herbivores, social/hierarchical, sexually productive early. Out of the 148 animals that seem like they would fit the description, Diamond says that only 14 have been successfully domesticated… all from Asia and Europe… the most effective farming ones from the fertile crescent of the Middle east… excepting Llamas from South america.
Aaaaaannd then: steel; shit. And latitude. And surplus capital and kingdoms. And part two: people shaping their own destiny.
Well, as for my opinion on this all, instead of hard Environmental Determinism I’d say Territorial Compatibilism. Environmental Determinism as a function of progress probably plays a much larger role in the basis of a civilization (though establishing just when the basis ends and puberty begins is a whole nother task). Nevertheless, I must accede that this origin is incredibly significant, eternally so, and however we modern men deal with it even more. But yeah, its also a simple answer, all you’ve really got time for in a blog post thats supposed to be a paragraph or two long: what really matters in a civilizations growth happens when it becomes conscious of what was unconscious.