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Starving people would have poured into Gardar [the largest farm], and the outnumbered chiefs and church officials could no longer prevent them from slaughtering the last cattle and sheep. Gardar's supplies, which might have sufficed to keep Gardar's own inhabitants alive if all their neighbors could have been kept out, would have been used up in the last winter when everyone tried to climb into the overcrowded lifeboat, eating the dogs and newborn lifestock and the cows' hoofs as they had at the end of the Western settlement.
I picture the scene at Gardar as like that in my home city of Los Angeles in 1992 at the time of the so-called Rodney King riots, when the acquittal of policement on trial for brutally beating a poor person provoked thousands of outraged people from poor neighborhoods to spread out to loot businesses and rich neighborhoods. The greatly outnumbered police could do nothing more than put up pieces of yellow plastic warning tape across roads entering rich neighborhoods, in a futile gesture aimed at keeping the looters out. We are increasingly seeing a similar phenomenon on a global scale today, as illegal immigrants from poor countries pour into the overcrowded lifeboats represented by rich countries, and as our border controls prove no more able to stop that influx than were Gardar's chiefs and Los Angeles's yellow tape. That parallel gives us another reason not to dismiss the fate of the Greenland Norse as just a problem of a small peripheral society in a fragile environment, irrelevant to our own larger society. Eastern Settlement was also larger than Western Settlement, but the outcome was the same; it merely took longer.
I suspect as times get tougher, people will be more willing to use deadly force. Whether it will work is another story.
Revi wrote:This was a great book, but shouldn't be used as a prediction of our collapse. It talks about small, islolated societies that collapsed suddenly. Ours may go the route of the Roman Empire. Rome went from a huge city to a small town, but it took 400 years. Things will slowly fall apart.
julianj wrote:I have just finished the book.
Leanan wrote:The problem is that if you are leading a low-energy, sustainable existence, and your neighbors are not, they will come over and take your resources with their superior numbers once their own run out. I'm not sure how we are going to keep that from happening.
If there's a global shortage of energy, the problem will solve itself eventually. The unsustainable neighbours are going to fall to pieces.
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"And he hammers home the idea that we can cut our consumption of natural resources without diminishing our standard of living. "A lot of our consumption is wasteful," he says, pointing out that Germany maintains higher living standards than the United States while consuming half as much oil per capita."
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