According to his book, Jared’s main argument is that the environment molds history. The influences of the environment are the leading cause of the significant human changes since the Palaeolithic period. The geographical setting and the nature of the environment in every local society are the reasons why there exist human societal differences and the idea as to why some nations have prospered and progressed on well as others remain dominant. History is just a reflection of these forces and differences that result from the environment and culture does not explain the central historical tendencies and the environment but only affect the trivial facts. He also explores the main historical phases worldwide and in details show the impact of environmental forces in each phase in the major regions. According to his findings, Europe rose and became dominant due to the ecological effects (Blaut, 2000). This paper is, therefore, criticism of Jared’s thesis that the man factor that led to technological superiority in Europe is environmental determinism.
The main argument is simple and clear: After the Ice Ages, most of the historical phases took place in the mid-latitudes temperature of Eurasia. An environment that was good enough for human progress than the other tropical ecosystems in the world. Other regions that share a similar environment were, Australia, South Africa, and the middle parts of South and North America but these regions could not be a center for human development because they are smaller and isolated from Eurasia and also from each other. Despite many civilizations that developed in the Eurasian environment, only two were significant mainly due to favorable climate. In some ways, China became inferior to Europe some 500 years ago, and therefore Europe ended up being superior (Blaut, 2000, McGoodWin, 2000).
Jared gives a distinction between the ultimate factors explaining the wide historical patterns and the contiguous factors affecting the crucial elements and also describes the local and short-range historical occurrences (Blaut, 2000). These essential factors are environmental factors, and the proximal factors are the conditions that led to an increase in food production. The ancient agricultural lands are historically known to be very significant. These ultimate factors later led to health, and technological variations and also the different social organization in the regions and these proximate conditions lead to the rise of modern history. Half of steel, guns, and germs is dedicated to giving a clear statement of the ultimate causes that gives the reasons behind different agricultural acquisition rates in differing environments and how the results lead to different peoples fate.
The fundamental causes are three primeval facts about the environment: The continental shapes, the plants and animal distribution, and geological barriers that hinder tame diffusion. The most agricultural productive continents are those with an east-west bloc. Africa and America could not progress due to their longitudinal axis (Diamond, 2017). The axes are not the main arguments here, but the climatic advantage the mid-latitude area have over the tropical climate regions. Diamond neglects the fact that the biggest percentage of this area is occupied desert climate and high mountains and harsh environmental conditions, not suitable for human survival (Blaut, 2000). Instead, he describes the field as the best region for agricultural developments and historical vigor. Looking at it in the real sense, the equatorial regions have been graded as the most fertile and productive regions regarding agriculture with the most suitable climates for human survival. These regions cut across Africa, America and Asia yet these countries are not leading.
Diamond relies on some ancient believes that among the few independent origin centers, only two are found in the Eurasian temperate belt: The Fertile Crescent, East Pole, and China (Blaut, 2000). He needs to show that these how these centers came earlier and important as compared to the tropical centers. Also, show the importance of the Fertile Crescent and why it was the first region whose environment led to Western civilization through the Westward diffusion. According to his explanation, the region’s climate favored the growth of grain crops unlike in the tropical regions which domesticate the non-grain crops as the main product. Root crops are not nutritious and therefore cannot bring about a significant historical growth (Diamond, 2017). Also, the tropical grains like maize are less nutritious compared to the wheat and barley on the basis of nutrients and moisture content composition. The small size of the cobs and kernels in maize is the reason as to why they took long to be domesticated, unlike other grains. His argument has remained unsupported except some shallow arguments.
Diamond neglects diffusion where convenient especially while explaining the reason behind some regional isolation and the isolation consequences like in Australia but instead he uses is to describe the spread of domesticate (Blaut, 2000). The climatic similarities or the regions within the belts of Eurasian temperatures account to the spread of within the regions as compared to other parts of the world and hence leading to increased food production. He is blind to the fact that the region’s leading in agricultural productivity within the Eurasian belt are isolated from each other by deserts and mountains. Contrary to his theory, the diffusion between the tropical and temperate regions or between temperate regions isolated from each other by a humid tropical zone was the same as that of east-west (Diamond, 2017).
Diamond’s arguments are not based on any factual evidence but instead, lie on myths and believe as well as his imagination. He contradicts his statement especially while explaining why southern-Northern diffusion was difficult as compares to the East-West diffusion. His arguments do not also give a substantial reason as to why Europe rose in technological superiority as compared to other parts of the country, and also fail to explain the real source of steel, guns, and germs.
Blaut, J. M. (2000). The colonizer’s model of the world: 2. New York: Guilford.
Diamond, J. M. (2017). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies.
McGoodWin, M. (2000). Diamond (Jared) Guns Germs and Steel Summary. Retrieved from https://www.mcgoodwin.net/pages/gungermsteel.html