Jared Diamond. Era una pregunta sencilla que apuntaba al centro de la vida tal como Yali la experimentaba. No tuve una respuesta que ofrecerle entonces. Los diferentes ritmos de desarrollo en distintos continentes, desde

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Jared Diamond has clearly had a more interesting life than most of us, and spent significant amounts of time in a wide variety of different kinds of society, all over the world. He says he got the basic idea from a conversation he had back in the 70s with a friend in New Guinea.

His friend, who later became a leader in the independence movement, wanted to talk about "cargo" manufactured goods, technology. First, we have unusually many easily domesticable plant and animal species. Second, since Europe is oriented East-West rather than North-South, a species which is domesticated in one part of Europe has a good chance of thriving in another, so there are many opportunities to swap farming technology between different areas. It helps that there is an easily navigable river system, and also that there are no impassible deserts or mountain ranges.

These conditions are not reproduced in most other parts of the world; Diamond has a range of interesting tables, showing how few useful domesticable species there are elsewhere. Because we got efficient farming earlier than most other people, we also got cities and advanced technology earlier, and everything else followed from that initial lead we established. I guess a New Guinea tribesman would, conversely, be surprised at how quickly word gets around on the Internet when a cool new website appears.

Systematic studies by modern scientists do seem to support this conclusion. Another criticism some readers have leveled at Diamond is that he makes history completely deterministic - once the geography was fixed, everything that happened after that was inevitable. Luckily, George W. Bush has been working hard to try and smooth things out. Way to go, Dubya! It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that given to the plants in countries anciently civilised.

Does Diamond mention this? Deadly virus comes out of China, Western leaders react with a mixture of denial and incompetence as infection rates soar and their economies crumble.


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