Jared Diamond's Views on Environmental Determinism

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Many geographers have attempted creating a unified theory explaining why cultures advance much more readily than others. Very few have actually reached mainstream society and even fewer seem reasonable. However, Jared Diamond shines where most do not. His book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, proposes an idea that has long been established called environmental determinism. Most view environmental determinism as a racist theory attributing a peoples’ intelligence only to their oppressive climates and geographical barriers. Diamond instead has created a theory that applies environmental determinism to only a peoples’ technology—not the people themselves. This has given researchers valuable tools that allow them to explain why some nations have become the superpowers they are today. If applied to the modern United States, Jared Diamond and his new theory would attribute the country’s dominate status to blankity blankity blank. The most fundamental factor Diamond gives for determining a nation’s future abilities start with its east-west orientation. He claims that because climate generally differs only between different latitudes, goods and technologies transport more easily between regions of similar latitude. Most notable and easy to grasp is the orientation’s effect on the, “spread[ing] of crops,” because crops have difficulties growing in different climates (Diamond 176). The United States westward expansion early in the nation’s history allowed the planting of the same crops everywhere. This philosophy also holds true when addressing animals. However, “livestock,” are a, “lethal gift,” because they provide for their caretakers to slowly build immunity to their diseases (Diamond 195). Once an immune populous encounters a st... ... middle of paper ... ...nited States’ success are its technologies. Writing has constantly been a strong suit. It allows a people to, “transmit knowledge with far greater accuracy... quantity and detail” (Diamond 215). For much of American history, the United States has enjoyed literacy rates approaching 100% and a strong bond with fellow English speaking nation Great Britain. This alliance has aided the United States largely because of the vast navy Great Britain employs. In a master outline Jared Diamond notes that, “oceangoing ships,” are essential technological elements (Diamond 87). Britain’s early support and the United States’ naval power was a large reason the country became so successful. Thirdly and most obviously, the United States has weapons superior to many countries. Guns and other weapons, Jared Diamond reasons, are necessary for a country to excel (Diamond 242).

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