All of which help sustain a society’s stability. In Jarred Diamond’s book, Collapse, he reveals similarities and differences in past failed societies and determines that societies that have failed or will fail, do so because of a combination of factors. These factors include environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, friendly trade partners, and primarily, how the societies respond to their problems (Diamond p. 1 1). Applying water pollution, to Diamond’s proposed, ‘five-point framework,” explains that water pollution’s implications contribute directly and indirectly to a possible collapse of society.
By combining a historical perspective with scientific advances, Diamond’s five-point framework strongly supports his claim that society’s ignorance and disregard for the environment could lead to their collapse. Thus, to fully understand how water pollution could contribute to a possible collapse, a deeper explanation of Diamond ‘s five-point framework is required. “The first set of factors involves damage that people inadvertently inflict on their environment. The extent and reversibility of that damage depend partly on properties of people, and partly on properties of the environment (Diamond p. 1). ” Basically Diamond shows hat excessive consummation and pollution of environmental resources has proven to contribute to the downfall of societies in the past. Societies undermine themselves by destroying their environments too quickly for it to recover. For example, constantly growing crops on soil unfit to support the crop will eventually result in soil degradation, or the loss of equilibrium of a stable soil, because it can not replenish the right amount of the necessary nutrients.
Crops that are not native to the land, will throw off the formation of the soil, making it useless for any vegetation. Diamond’s second consideration is climate change. Climates may become hotter or colder, wetter or drier either from natural forces or by global warming. “In many historical cases, a society that was depleting its environmental resources could absorb the losses as long as the climate was benign, but was then driven over the brink of collapse when the climate became drier, colder, hotter, wetter, or more variable (Diamond p. Societies tend to increase production and population when times are good, causing them to become accustomed to their ingrained habits. They consistently damage their environment, however do not notice any negative changes because the limited can replenish the resources. When these good times end and the climate turns for the worse, the society cannot sustain the population it once could. The society’s environmental impact coincides with climate changes, which together has shown to be a possible cause for a society’s collapse (Diamond, Pl 3).
The processes through which past societies have undermined themselves by damaging their environments fall into twelve categories: deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems, water management problems, over hunting, over fishing effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, increased per capita impact of people, human caused climate change, buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages, and full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity. Diamond, p. 6-7). Water pollution negatively affects many of these categories. Water pollution is a global issue and its’ implications are illuminated when we put the problem in the context of the first 0,’10 points, that is environmental damage and climate change.
Main sources of water pollution include: industrial discharge of chemical wastes and byproducts, surface runoff containing pesticides or fertilizers, acid rain caused by industrial discharge Of sulfur dioxide, discharge Of contaminated or heated water used for industrial processes, surface runoff containing spilled petroleum products, silt runoff from construction sites and farms, discharge of poorly treated or untreated sewage, excess nutrients added by runoff containing fertilizers, and underground storage tank leakage leading to soil contamination.
Each source of pollution correlates to one or more of the twelve processes through which past societies have undermined themselves by damaging their environment. Thus, water pollution is considered to be a contributor to a possible collapse. Industry is responsible for the majority of water pollution because its practices produce several contaminants. The combined industrial discharge of chemical wastes and byproducts pollute rivers, lakes, and oceans by producing organic and inorganic contaminants that enter groundwater and soil, which can compile at the bottom of oceans.
Subsequently, industrial discharge significantly increases the acidity of water. Heavy metals’ toxicity combined with increases in acidity yields water that cannot sustain life that it once could. The biodiversity that once existed created rich ecosystems in which we could utilize for food and medicine. Consequently, the risk of the spread of disease and food shortages destabilize society by placing burdens on its social systems. The morale of citizens is negatively affected. Countries that are not able treat enough water for their population, also become vulnerable to contaminated water, which leads to increased disease and death.
Industry provides for a few other types of water pollution. Acid rain, produced by sulfur dioxide and other emissions, can increase the acidity of masses of water significantly. Crude oil tankers can accidentally release volatile organic compounds (VIC’S), which can pollute the oceans, and groundwater. Plants that used to depend on pure soil and groundwater will quickly die if contaminated with these deadly compounds. Groundwater pollution is much more difficult to abate than surface pollution because groundwater can move great distances through unseen aquifers.
Groundwater that moves through cracks and caverns is not filtered and can be transported as easily as surface water. Humans aggravate this problem more by dumping garbage in natural sinkholes. Agriculture often produces contaminated runoff water, leading to significant impacts to surface water, groundwater, and soil through transport of water pollutants to these systems. As rainfall or snowbell moves over and through the ground, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants.
These pollutants are eventually deposited into natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and underground sources of drinking water. In terms of groundwater, runoff water can extract soil contaminants and carry them in the form of water pollution to even more sensitive aquatic habitats. Secondly, runoff can deposit contaminants on relatively pristine soils, creating health or ecological consequences. The contributions of runoff to a possible collapse are similar to those of industrial waste. Another main contributor of Water pollution are urban cities.
The sewage produced by cities have large amounts of Vic’s, garbage, and other contaminants. Untreated sage is then deposited into larger bodies of water. The implications in which have already been discussed. Construction and logging which both occur due to development, produce silt which combines with runoff. Silt bearing surface runoff from can inhibit the penetration of sunlight through the water column, interfering with photosynthesis in aquatic plants. The consequences of water pollution contribute directly to the first two points f Diamond’s framework, and indirectly to the other three points.
Since a general implication of water pollution is that it causes a lesser living standard and more scarce resources, it can be inferred that water pollution contributes to a more vulnerable state. This vulnerability can lead to hostile takeover, which evidently contributes to the end of a society. Diamond’s fourth point reads, “If your trade partner becomes weakened for any reason (including environmental damage) and can no longer supply essential support, your society may become weakened (Diamond, p. 14). Essentially, if a dependent Ely collapses, your society becomes more vulnerable to a collapse.
A vital reason why some societies collapse while others do not is how a society deals with their problems. Problems that contribute to a collapse can often be avoided. “A society’s responses depend on its political, economic, and social institutions and on its cultural values (Diamond, p. 1 5). ” Though it is unclear what the perfect values are, it is agreed that inefficient societies are more likely to collapse than others. Think of third world countries such as Somalia, Haiti, Madagascar, or Sudan. All of these are failed societies and all of them o not have well-established political, economic, or social institutions.