Sunday, February 24, 2008

Snippets from Australia and China

Jo Hunter Adams

I'm trying something new with The Concrete Gardener: Posting once a day. I'm not sure how it will work, but please bear with me in the process! It does mean that occasionally I will post something random and disjointed, which I think might be just part of the process of learning to express the topics I am learning about better. For those of you who check Concrete Gardener regularly, I'm hoping to reciprocate with content once a day.

Today, I wanted to share two very brief snippets from Collapse (Jared Diamond) but have returned the book to the library so the stories are just what stuck from the book.

One story came from Australia-- there were two intersecting stories really:

1) When British colonialists arrived in Australia, they brought rabbits and foxes, principally to make the countryside look more like their homeland. As a result, the rabbits completely decimated the Australian landscape (for a view of this, the movie Rabbit Proof Fence is really excellent). Rabbits simply didn't belong in Australia.

2) To make most crops profitable in Australia, as things currently stand, you actually have to over-use the land. For example, to keep a sheep farm profitable, you have to have more sheep than the land can sustain. This means, over time the land is more and more depleted (as it was even before colonization. Yet at the same time, the need to export items leads to expensive transportation costs. Diamond argues that Australians may be the first people in the world who may make a conscious decision to decrease their standard of living in order to secure their future. An amazing, revolutionary thought because as a collective, I think a lot of us measure how worth by seemingly never-ending increases in standards of living.

One snippet from China.

Even though the one child policy in China dramatically reduced the growth of the population, the number of households (and thus, roughly speaking, the impact of these households) did not decrease as significantly, because the household size was decreased by the policy.