Michael Kavanagh

Michael J. Kavanagh is a writer and public radio reporter.

Conflating environmentalists and terrorists is all the rage

What liberals and their allies in the environmentalist wacko movement fail to understand is: their message has gotten out. Their anti-capitalist, socialist, gloom-and-doom, fear-based, lunatic ravings have been amplified — and Americans understand exactly who …

Don't Do as the Romans Do

Jared Diamond’s Collapse traces the fates of societies to their treatment of the environment

I will always think of Jared Diamond as the man who, for the better part of the late 1990s, somehow made the phrase "east-west axis of orientation" the most talked-about kind of orientation there was -- freshman, sexual, or otherwise. His 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies began with a simple question -- "Why did Pizarro conquer the Incas and not the other way around?" -- and then managed to tell, over the course of only 400-odd pages, the history of why humanity has turned out the way it has. For most readers (and there were millions), Guns was their first exposure to theories of geographic determinism. To broadly simplify, Diamond's book posited that human populations on continents with a primarily east-west orientation benefited from a more consistent climate and therefore developed more quickly than those living on continents with a north-south orientation. It had the kind of paradigm-shifting impact that happens with a book only once every few years, and it turned Diamond -- a professor of geography at UCLA -- into something of a rock star.

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