Collapse takes a few years

I recently finished reading Jarod Diamond’s new book, Collapse which is an in depth look at why societies, in his words, choose to succeed or fail. His angle is mostly environmental – deforestation, depleting of natural resources, soil erosion, etc. with a few wars and other elements thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, of course, he draws some conclusions for us in the modern day and our need to be better stewards of our natural resources, control global population and the other key themes of the environmentalists.

Debating those subjects is for another day.

I just wanted to point out that long term planning is a relative term. After reading this anthropologist talk about ancient societies that had forest, agriculture and natural resources management plants for hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of years, it made me put things in perspective.

New Brunswick’s economy has been in ‘decline’, in my opinion, since sometime in the 1960s. If you look at the figures, our population growth decline (i.e. the slowing of population growth) started around 1970 and continued dropping for the most part until 1998 until we actually feel into negative territory – population decline – which is where we sit today. But, in addition to a declining population growth rate there were a number of other elements that have contributed to where we are today. Our traditional sectors started to wane and governments countered not with robust economic development but with seasonal work and EI. The out migration of our best and brightest accelerated. The education gap between us and other provinces started to widen and we did nothing. Our infrastructure and openness for new investment started to decline and we did very little. The successful economies embraced immigration and fostered it while we stood by and did nothing.

Welcome to 2005.