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Greta, George, Jared, and the Ends of the World As We Know Them

January 15, 2020


Last September Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot came together in a video about climate change, warning us that the world is going to collapse unless we do something.

Someone who knows quite a bit about the topic of collapse also is UCLA Professor of Geography Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel and a book on Collapse. which served as a foundation for an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in LA about 15 years ago when the book came out.

According to his personal website, Diamond started out in physiology and then went into evolutionary biology and biogeography; growing up, he planned to be an MD. Today he is a member of  the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical society, and Diamond’s awards include the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Japan’s Cosmo Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Prize Honoring the Scientist as Poet, presented by Rockefeller University.  His publications include more than six hundred articles and authored, co-authored or edited seven books.

Jared Diamond speaks 12 languages.

Tonight, Weds. January 15, he will speak (in English!) at UCSB on “Nations in Crisis, People in Crisis: Connecting Upheaval.” In his talk, he will disNations that successfully navigate crises do so by making selective changes to their identities and actions. When individuals experience crises—mid-life, financial, health, relationship—they may also adopt selective changes to overcome the situation. But some individuals, like some nations, are better at navigating upheaval than others. By drawing on the factors that counselors and psychotherapists have identified that affect the likelihood of overcoming personal crisis, Diamond will examine the extent to which crisis response on the individual scale helps us to understand the outcomes of recent and impending national and world crises.

I just wish I’d followed through with my intellectual interests at UCLA in the early 90s and worked with him as everyone said I would… but since I missed that boat, I look forward to hearing him speak every chance I get. This will be the fourth time, and every single instance has been enlightening.

This time of year I am usually teaching Diamond’s essay, “The Ends of the World as We Know Them”. But I was laid off this terms so I won’t be able to give my students extra credit for attending — and I won’t be sharing insights with them in class next week.

But I can encourage YOU! So go do something! Plants some trees! Follow the easy ideas in the video above!

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