Measles and TB evolved from diseases of our cattle, influenza from a disease of pigs, and smallpox possibly from a disease of camels. The Americas had very few native domesticated animal species from which humans could acquire such diseases.— Jared Diamond
The most interesting Jared Diamond quotes that are simple and will have a huge impact on you
The southward advance of native African farmers with Central African crops halted in Natal, beyond which Central African crops couldn't grow - with enormous consequences for the recent history of South Africa.
Infectious diseases introduced with Europeans, like smallpox and measles, spread from one Indian tribe to another, far in advance of Europeans themselves, and killed an estimated 95% of the New World's Indian population.
The metaphor is so obvious. Easter Island isolated in the Pacific Ocean — once the island got into trouble, there was no way they could get free. There was no other people from whom they could get help. In the same way that we on Planet Earth, if we ruin our own [world], we won't be able to get help.
Native Americans had only stone and wooden weapons and no animals that could be ridden. Those military advantages repeatedly enabled troops of a few dozen mounted Spaniards to defeat Indian armies numbering in the thousands.
The main thing that gives me hope is the media.
We have radio, TV, magazines, and books, so we have the possibility of learning from societies that are remote from us, like Somalia. We turn on the TV and see what blew up in Iraq or we see conditions in Afghanistan.
Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.
Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies' histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.
In much of the rest of the world, rich people live in gated communities and drink bottled water. That's increasingly the case in Los Angeles where I come from. So that wealthy people in much of the world are insulated from the consequences of their actions.
The adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.
AIDS and malaria and TB are national security issues.
A worldwide program to get a start on dealing with these issues would cost about $25 billion... It's, what, a few months in Iraq.
The history of interactions among disparate peoples is what shaped the modern world through conquest, epidemics and genocide. Those collisions created reverberations that have still not died down after many centuries, and that are actively continuing in some of the world's most troubled areas.
Starbucks goes to a great effort, and pays twice as much for its coffee as its competitors do, and is very careful to help coffee producers in developing countries grow coffee without pesticides and in ways that preserve forest structure.
[W]hat makes patriotic and religious fanatics such dangerous opponents is not the deaths of the fanatics themselves, but their willingness to accept the deaths of a fraction of their number in order to annihilate or crush their infidel enemy.
We're uncomfortable about considering history as a science.
It's classified as a social science, which is considered not quite scientific.
Technology has to be invented or adopted.
Biology is the science. Evolution is the concept that makes biology unique.
Rhino-mounted Bantu shock troops could have overthrown the Roman Empire. It never happened.
Why did human development proceed at such different rates on different continents for the last 13,000 years?
Human societies vary in lots of independent factors affecting their openness to innovation.
People often ask, "What is the single most important environmental population problem facing the world today?" A flip answer would be, "The single most important problem is our misguided focus on identifying the single most important problem!
Perhaps our greatest distinction as a species is our capacity, unique among animals, to make counter-evolutionary choices.
I'd rather spend my leisure time doing what some people call my work and I call my fun.
All human societies go through fads in which they temporarily either adopt practices of little use or else abandon practices of considerable use.
For anyone inclined to caricature environmental history as 'environmental determinism,' the contrasting histories of the Dominican Republic and Haiti provide a useful antidote. Yes, environmental problems do constrain human societies, but the societies' responses also make a difference.
Twenty years ago, you might have been pessimistic and said there's no hope.
But these days, some of our very biggest companies are acting remarkably cleanly. And in some cases, although not all cases, the CEOs are the driving forces behind that.
Even to this day, no native Australian animal species and only one plant species-the macadamia nut-have proved suitable for domestication. There still are no domestic kangaroos.
We can't manipulate some stars while maintaining other stars as controls;
we can't start and stop ice ages, and we can't experiment with designing and evolving dinosaurs.
Put another way, the chimpanzees' closest relative is not the gorilla but humans.
Australia is the most isolated continent.
To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image.
Astronomy taught us that our Earth is not the center of the universe, but merely one of nine planets circling one of billions of stars. From biology we learned that humans were not specially created by God but evolved along with tens of millions of other species.
One person making a wrong decision affects the whole country.
[T]he values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.
The rate of human invention is faster, and the rate of cultural loss is slower, in areas occupied by many competing societies with many individuals and in contact with societies elsewhere.
Lest those islands still seem to you too remote in space and time to be relevant to our modern societies, just think about the risks... of our increasing globalization and increasing worldwide economic interdependence.
Take air quality in the United States today: It's about 30 percent better than it was 25 years ago, even though there are now more people driving more cars.
We study the injustices of history for the same reason that we study genocide, and for the same reason that psychologists study the minds of murderers and rapists... to understand how those evil things came about.
Introspection and preserved writings give us far more insight into the ways of past humans than we have into the ways of past dinosaurs. For that reason, I'm optimistic that we can eventually arrive at convincing explanations for these broadest patterns of human history.
Thousands of years ago, humans domesticated every possible large wild mammal species fulfilling all those criteria and worth domesticating, with the result that there have been no valuable additions of domestic animals in recent times, despite the efforts of modern science.
In the latter case it is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.
It's striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans, in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.
Although native Africans domesticated some plants in the Sahel and in Ethiopia and in tropical West Africa, they acquired valuable domestic animals only later, from the north.
I personally am not conscious of my accent.
The United States has long thought of itself as the land of infinite plenty, and historically we did have abundant resources. But now we are gradually exhausting our fisheries, our topsoil, our water. On top of that, we're coming to the end of world resources.
No government is here forever. And there are other forces - the most potent force in our society, in fact, big business - doing good for the environment.
All recognized famous inventors had capable predecessors and successors and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product.
African cavalry mounted on rhinos or hippos would have made mincemeat of European cavalry mounted on horses. But it couldnt happen.
Eurasia ended up with the most domesticated animal species in part because it's the world's largest land mass and offered the most wild species to begin with.
The Anasazi did manage to construct in stone the largest and tallest buildings erected in North America until the Chicago steel girder skyscrapers of the 1880s.
Eurasia's main axis is east/west, whereas the main axis of the Americas is north/south. Eurasia's east/west axis meant that species domesticated in one part of Eurasia could easily spread thousands of miles at the same latitude, encountering the same day-length and climate to which they were already adapted.