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The Ends of the World as We Know Them
Transcript of The Ends of the World as We Know Them
The power of this essay lies in its simplicity by addressing and supporting a single claim/argument.
An Example Essay can be used to make a persuasive argument.
This format is most effective when writing short essays.
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields.
He explores civilizations and why they all seem to fall.
He posits that success - and failure - depends on how well societies adapt to their changing environment.
He is best known for the award-winning popular science books The Third Chimpanzee; Guns, Germs, and Steel; and Collapse.
The speaker of this essay is Diamond himself.
As an American, Diamond is analyzing the current situation (2005) of the United States and making an analogy to small, traditional, tribal societies and why they collapse.
He suggests that modern civilization is only our latest solution to survival.
The speaker mainly focuses on evidence based on his historical and geographical knowledge to support the reasons for societies collapsing rather than majorly considering a more moral approach
He elaborates and discusses both the collapses and sustainability of past and modern societies, contrasting both types of societies
Example Essay Cont.
Things to watch out for:
Examples without a point do not help your essay
Beware of piling on too many examples
Lack of an initial thesis statement to give the example or examples some sense of purpose can make a paper self-destruct before you begin
Be wary of lack of transitions between examples. Be particularly careful of the phrase, “For example.”
The Ends of the World as We Know Them
· States general idea to be proved (thesis statement)
· Provides example(s) or illustration(s), which support(s) the thesis
· Restates the thesis and draws some conclusion from the paper
Born: September 10, 1937 (Age 76)
Fields:Physiology, Biophysics, Ornithology, Environmentalism, History, Ecology, Geography, Evolutionary biology, Anthropology
Profession:: Professor of Geography at UCLA
United States 2005:
- "intervention these days can cost more than $100 billion and require more than 100,000 troops" -Iraq War cost over $244 Billion.
- land of unlimited plenty, and so we practiced unrestrained consumerism
Threats to the U.S.:
Before: “Historically, oceans protected us from external threats”
After: "In recent years, we have responded to foreign threats largely by seeking short-term military solutions at the last minute"
Think 9/11 terrorist attack
Where is America going?
The main purpose of this essay is to inform readers that "humanity's biggest problems today are ones entirely of our own making".
Our global society has the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of societies "remote from us in space and in time".
In order to prevail we "just need the political will to face up to our problems of population and the environment".
The biggest asset our society has is the disposal of a "detailed chronicle of human successes and failures"
Diamond claims there are "five groups of interacting factors have been especially important" in determining the causes of collapse:
the damage that people have inflicted on their environment;
changes in friendly trading partners;
the society's political, economic and social responses to these shifts
What lessons can we draw from history?
"Take environmental problems seriously"
Use of rhetorical questions
"How long can America remain ascendant? Where will we stand 10 years from now, or even next year?"
Historical facts/ allusions to historical civilizations
Mayans, Polynesian -Henderson and Pitcairn islands, Anasazi, Japan, Tonga, Northern Europe, etc.
He is very elaborate in his description of events, possibly indicating his enthusiasm to inform.
There are a few shifts in tone. On the 14th paragraph, Diamond provides comic relief when he writes, "But before we let ourselves get depressed..."
Towards the end of the article, the speaker approaches the subject more optimistically: "I also draw hope from a unique advantage that we enjoy"
The piece is directed at Americans in general because it's supposed to serve as a reminder and reflection of their country's ideals.
He clearly connects himself to the audience by using the words “we”, “our”, and “us” frequently, in order for the audience to relate to the speaker and acknowledge his message.
The speaker mentions events related to American history and procedures. This establishes the audience’s involvement in the topic being discussed.
While the essay is guided towards an American public, it can be appreciated by other scholars and people who have an interest in the development of civilizations and its effects in contemporary society.
Other lessons we can draw from history
The failures of group decision-making
conflicts of interest, whereby one group within a society can profit by engaging in practices that damage the rest of society
pursuit of short term gains at the expense of long-term survival
History also teaches us two deeper lessons about what separates successful societies from those heading toward failure
A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions
willingness to re-examine long-held core values, when conditions change and those values no longer make sense
Diamond encourages people to consider the importance of learning from historical mistakes.
He also criticizes American society and its way of progression, claiming that it progresses towards the maintenance of its reputation over the well being of its society.
Diamond cautions that if procedures are not altered, the path to a collapse is likely to occur.
1. Why does an example essay structure satisfy or aid in this essay’s purpose? Consider this quote Diamond said, "I study the past, first of all, because it's fascinating in its own right, and puzzling in its own right," he says. "I also study the past to extract lessons that might help us in the present in facing all the same problems that people faced in the past."
2. Is the collapse of every civilization inevitable? Comparing the rise and fall of past empires to Darwin’s theory of evolution are both necessary in order to maintain evolution and diversity in the world?
3. Discuss the parallels between the essay and the novel Brave New World. What are some major themes and concepts that can be seen?
4. Some people are pessimistic when they contemplate the world's growing population and human demands colliding with shrinking resources, while others are optimists, drawing hope from the knowledge that humanity's biggest problems today are ones entirely of our own making. Pick a side and defend it.
5. What are the lessons to be learned from history Diamond's essay?