This week’s read was fun for me because I really like history. It was also one of the more uplifting reads we have done recently, although that may be because it was published in the happy year of 2005. I had learned of the Viking expeditions to the “New World,” but I never really knew why they disappeared. I thought that Diamond’s take on a slow, self-imposed destruction much more interesting than the “Act of God” sudden calamity. Relating the decline of the Viking settlements to a refusal to break cultural norms also stood out to me. The local Inuit peoples survived through the times the Vikings did not, which Diamond puts in part due to a refusal to eat fish. He also points out the Greenland was settled by the Vikings for some 450 years, much longer than the US has been around for.
The idea of us walking slowly towards an avoidable cliff, in this case climate change, is on one hand terrifying and on another hopeful. Climate change is no sudden disaster, nor will its effects happen all at once. Something can be done to prevent it. And if Climate change is inevitable, or nothing is done to prevent our current trends, then something can be done about those later effects. The end will not happen quickly, it will be a gradual process of decline until some geological homeostasis is achieved. I don’t really know how to properly explain how this makes me feel. All too often it can be distressing or depressing to read about the current situation. While this read didn’t really change my opinion on the bleakness of our time, it maybe fueled some hope that not all is lost.