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Crises in World Resources

June 21, 2003

Re "The Erosion of Civilization," Opinion, June 15: Jared Diamond's proposed "ecological" interventions are touchingly idealistic but considerably less feasible than President Bush's military interventions, which he implicitly criticizes. And Bush's Iraqi intervention at least had the benefit of assuring the West a critical necessity -- future oil supplies. The only example of intervention Diamond offers, against AIDS and other diseases, would just add to the population pressure Third World countries face.

The underlying problem is essentially Malthusian, held at bay (for who knows how much longer) by technological advances in food production. Looking first in our own backyard, U.S. soil is also now greatly eroded, so we must begin to attend to our own failings. Predictably, there is resistance to altering entrenched patterns of behavior (i.e., we consume huge amounts of meat and grains) here in the U.S., never mind the resistance encountered in far-flung parts of the world that are anti-scientific and hostile to the West.

Patty Elias

Costa Mesa


After a brilliant analysis of geographic trends in the "infertile crescent," Diamond couldn't resist bashing Bush. Bush didn't choose to ignore the preemption of crises; he had an acute situation to deal with. Did Diamond forget the $15 billion pledged to Africa for the AIDS epidemic?

Steven Csosz

Redondo Beach

The kind of catastrophe Diamond writes about is inescapable (unless we have a spare planet to go to). As long as fundamentalists everywhere insist upon having as many kids as possible, this is the only outcome. As long as corporations need all the raw materials available and an endless supply of customers, this is our fate. As a species, we have evolved past natural selection, so there are more humans and less of everything else. Overpopulation is the No. 1 problem today. All others follow from this: famine, destruction of habitat, drought, war and diseases.

But never mind this, the armies need recruits: the armies of God, the legions of shoppers, the constituents of politicians, the cannon fodder of dictators. The religiosos believe they will be rescued from the destruction of the planet, so it's OK to use it all up, and corporations apparently don't care if they suck every last drop of oil, water and blood from the Earth. Soon, we'll have nothing left to eat but each other.

Michael Boshears


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