Commentary on "The Last Americans".

Essay by wfan99College, UndergraduateA+, December 2005

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The recent hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, along with global warming amplify Jared Diamond's thesis in "The Last Americans" that humans are responsible for the downfall of civilizations. Throughout history, many civilizations have collapsed due to numerous reasons such as incompetent leaders and environmental negligence. Many people view the United States' current environmental crisis with apathy. These people feel that the environmental collapse of ancient societies such as the Mayans is only pertinent to the present day decline of distant countries such as Somalia and Afghanistan; but in fact the United States is being equally affected. Diamond suggests that the future of the country lies in our hands and not in some intangible force that surrounds us.

"Natural disasters are always lurking somewhere close to the front of the New Orleans mind--especially aquatic disasters, and most especially hurricanes." During the previous weeks, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped through the southern part of the country killing thousands of people and damaging countless acres of property.

Many humans are disinterested in matters of the environment because they feel that someone else will take care of the problem. They do not want to address the current environmental issues because they feel a quick fix in the form of technology will come and make everything better overnight. "The latest energy bill to pass Congress, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, authorizes $380 million for research into renewable energy, an amount that will rise to $852 million in 2009." We are so intent upon finding that new flawless technology, but fail to recognize the fact that we are in our predicament today mainly due to our own technology! Diamond says, "They assume that the new technologies will succeed quickly enough to make a big difference soon, but all of these major...