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Jared Diamond on How Geography Affects our Globalized World Today | Upfront Summit 2020

Jared Diamond
Professor of Geography at University of California, Los Angeles
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Upfront Summit 2020
January 29 2020, Pasadena, CA, United States
Upfront Summit 2020
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Jared Diamond on How Geography Affects our Globalized World Today | Upfront Summit 2020
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About speaker

  • Jared Diamond
    Professor of Geography at University of California, Los Angeles
Jared Diamond is a noted polymath, is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles and an international bestselling author. Among his many awards are the U.S. National Medal of Science, Japan’s Cosmos Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

About the talk

Topic: Business

Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond speaks about why geography is still relevant in a connected world: how geography impacts global wealth and why wealth inequality is a global concern (including health, security, and immigration); how geography and climate change are interlinked; and how geographic disunity aids in innovation and leadership.

Note: background noise in this video due to high winds outside the theater where this was filmed.

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Good morning. The title of my talk today is one that digs a yes answer which I'll show you is wrong 00:00 is geography increasingly Irrelevant in a globalized world and you may be inclined to say, of course it is don't the internet 00:09 cell phones and jet plane travel now connect everybody to everybody else and make a graffiti irrelevant. So it makes no difference 00:19 whether you live in Silicon Valley or in the Central African Republic and the real answer is no cost. Not that's nonsense. You need 00:29

money in order to be able to afford a computer or a cell phone or a jet plane trip ticket, but money is 00:39 distributed unevenly around the world a partially far more people in Silicon Valley than in the Central African Republic 00:49 can't afford a computer or a cell phone or Jeff playing pick up. First World countries are on the average 32 times richer 00:58 than poor countries. And the richest countries like booksin Bulldog or 200 times Richard per capita 01:07 than is the Central African Republic. Why what are the reasons for these big differences in Nashville? Well, a big part of the answer 01:17

is geography a homework assignment for you or something that you can easily do to convince yourself just pull up on your computer 01:26 on a map of Africa and write down on the map of Africa the per capita the wealth of each country either 01:36 GDP per capita for income per capita corrected or not record for differences in purchasing power any measure you want of per capita 01:45 wealth You will see that Africa is like a Big Mac in the distribution of well, there's a thin slice on 01:55

top the five countries in the north temperate zone. There's a thin slice on the bottom the five countries in the South temperate zone those and 02:05 countries are relatively rich and all the countries in the middle the center of the Big Mac all the tropical countries in Africa are relatively poor 02:14 those 10 tempered countries eat the North and South most of them are richer than almost any of the tropical countries in the center. 02:21 What reason for all those big differences in wealth around Africa? What's what's the matter with being in the tropics? Will the tropics 02:32

bring three big disadvantage of one disadvantage of this tropical agriculture one has the fantasy that in the tropics. It's easy 02:42 to get food bananas for a walk the trees know that's not true tropical agriculture is on the average about half as productive as temperate zone 02:52 Agriculture, and that's because tropical soils are thin and infer tile in the tropics. There are lots of pets year-round pest 03:01 insects and worms that destroy much of the clocks tropical a disadvantage 03:11

tropical diseases are not only sad for all the people dying of those tropical diseases, but they're also bad for the economy tropical diseases mean 03:21 for short lifespan. Anna in the tropics many African tropical countries have a lifespan of 50 years instead of 80 years. But if you're a trained 03:30 engineer trained at the age of 30 is going to die at age 50 is only 20 years to contribute to the workforce instead of 40-50 years. 03:40 Another disadvantage of those tropical diseases is that when you're alive you still out sick much of the time and not working women 03:50

are pregnant or lactating much of the time and can't join the workforce because they're constantly turning out babies to make up for the baby. She was 04:00 going to die. India Vogue ratio of productive adults two non-working children 04:08 and then the third reason for the break down of Machinery at high temperatures in the tropics that disadvantage of being at warm temperatures 04:18 one can see within countries that span a lot of latitude in Brazil is too cool temperate zone in the South that's richer than the tropics in the 04:28

Norwalk used to be the case in the United States as well. So that's one thing that you can see from your nap of Africa when you can easily convinced 04:37 yourself, but there's another thing that you see from your nap Earth Africa up 48 African countries. There are 33 that are on the 04:45 Seacoast and one Amazing and one that's on a on a navigable river but they were 15 04:55 landlocked tropical countries 15 countries that do not have access to the sea in the knot on a navigable river being 05:04

landlocked is a big disadvantage for those 15 countries like Zambia in Central African Republic in the middle of Africa because transport by 05:13 sea Burton and per mile is 7 times cheaper than transport by land sopine landlocked is a big disadvantage. 05:23 Well, if you make this more homework for you something that will convince you even more quickly take a nap of South America South America simple 05:35 because they're only 12 countries in South America and lo and behold the three countries in the temperate zones Argentina Uruguay. En Chile are richer 05:43

than any of the nine other countries in South America, which are in the tropics in the temperate zones, even Argentina famous for his 05:53 bad government. If you are in Argentina, which has half of the sea area as the Pampas 213 fertile campus so productive 06:03 for grain and for cattle if you were in Argentina with the Pampas even a inefficient government can prevent your 06:13 country from becoming rich, but there's one other thing that you can see from your Napa South America. I told you about the disadvantages of being 06:22

landlocked in Africa in South America. There's only one land. What country does Bolivia and lo and behold. Surprisingly Bolivia was the poorest 06:30 country in South America has of being in the being in the tropics and of being landlocked their consequences 06:40 of geography. Naturally. There are other factors that also affect National Geography is one of the big factors. 06:50 One can one. Does that mean that the situation for tropical countries is hopeless and that they should give up on ever achieving well know it's just 07:00

as with human illness. If you are ill you go to the doctor if you get a diagnosis the doctor once you are ill that doesn't 07:10 mean that you have found two. I the diagnosis tells you what medicine to cure you can take and simile being in the tropics. You can get a diagnosis. 07:20 There are things that you can do in the things you should not do in order to get rich in the tropics. Don't they see our economy on agriculture? The 07:29 tropical countries have had become rich most spectacularly Singapore Malaysian Costa Rica have learned to get there money in ways other than from 07:38

agriculture. If you in the tropics do invest in public health, Singapore Thailand in Botswana did it go spectacularly Singapore the lemonade and 07:46 malaria and is now by far the richest tropical country in the world if you are in Tropics leave the exportation of agricultural products to temperate 07:55 zone countries like the US Canada Netherlands and Argentina. Well one might say so what if those tropical countries are poor that's very sad and saw 08:04 their own fault anyway, but start a problem for us earring temperate zone countries 60 years ago. Having poor countries out there without a 08:14

problem for which countries because the world wasn't globalized. But today the world is globalize and it is a problem having poor countries out there 08:24 for what countries were at least three reasons. One reason is the spread of tropical diseases from poor tropical countries with low 08:33 Public Health budgets to Rich temperate zone countries on jet planes a famous example was one Alton one error. When is 08:43 Argentina's flight that stopped in through picked up food in Peru. The food was contaminated with cholera. The plane went on to Los 08:52

Angeles and passengers from La connected on to San Francisco Seattle theater times and Tokyo and that one airplane flight left a string of Cholera 09:02 cases from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle to Fairbanks the Tokyo greater tropical diseases on jet planes nowadays other 09:12 Apical diseases that are spread on jet plane include most notably AIDS and Ebola Marlboro Yankee Chikungunya fever but 09:22 climate change nowadays. Means that these tropical diseases risk getting established thanks to a jet plane fly in temperate zone countries 09:32

and is happening now with coronavirus on from China. A second reason why those poor tropical countries are problems with temperate 09:41 zone countries today is support for international terrorism by desperately poor populations in in tropical countries 09:51 know that there is not a reasonable chance. India lifetime was a lifetime of their children that they are going to get rich and Sten then the 10:00 third problem the tropical countries Pollo Tropical countries posed for temperate zone countries is Unstoppable immigration by people who going to 10:10

leave And that's especially the problem in Europe, which is face-to-face with Africa with 1 billion people almost all of them would be better off if 10:19 they were in Europe and they know it. Sowell fairies with geography. What else is it that varies with geography. He saw its wealth. 10:28 Another thing is climate change. Well, you know, the climate change means that the world is getting hotter dryer and low 10:38 agricultural productivity that's true on the average but there were differences with geography. There are some parts of the world that paradoxical 10:47

getting Like the southeastern United States While most of the world including us are in California or getting warmer 10:56 agricultural production in general is declining with climate change. And that's happening here in California agricultural production is 11:05 rising in Sweden and Britain thanks to climb a chain Sweden Britain and now producing why that was not the case when I lived 11:14 in Britain 60 years ago and I can tell you that this new British wine. It's not bad thanks to climb a chain fire hazards on the 11:24

average increasing round-the-world thanks to climate change. We know it now in California or any of you from Australia know it even more in Australia, 11:34 but I have since I'm not a consideration in Alabama to climate-change theories around the world. Another thing the berries around the 11:42 world is resource problems. Resource problems beard with geography some countries are resource-poor and other countries are 11:52 resource-rich for Geographic reasons the Japanese off and say our country is poor in resources and relatively speaking that 12:01

screw on the other hand Zambia and Iceland are rich in resources, especially rich in hydroelectric power Zambian Iceland produce so much 12:11 electricity from hydroelectric power that they make money by their electricity. They don't need it all exports and sells 12:21 electricity to South Africa and Iceland have so much hydroelectric power and geothermal power that wants to do something to get money with all that 12:31 excess Excess power and the Iceland is lit on the solution of aluminum. There isn't aluminum the nice ones, but they import aluminum and they use all 12:40

their electricity to smelt aluminum and aluminum is the biggest money are the bigger. foreign exchange rate of Iceland 12:49 what resource problems are going to increase around the world as the number of people around the world increases and as average consumption rates 12:59 per person increase around the world. That rise in resource consumption in a world of finite resources means that 13:09 we are going to see more and more resources scrambles fights or competition for resources. A resource scramble was the background reason 13:19

with the background cause for Japan's entering World War. I just came back from two trips to Japan where I went to the Japanese Imperial War Museum 13:29 and it's very explicitly the cause of World War II being Japan's search for over a physician Scramble for overseas resources 13:38 resource scrambles today on especially significant for seafood and believe it or not freshwater. You might have why on Earth is the 13:48 earth restore Scramble for fresh water when we can just make freshwater from saltwater. Yes in theory and the fact that you can make freshwater from 13:58

saltwater, but that requires fuel which reduce releases carbon into the atmosphere. So you don't want to make my freshwater from saltwater because 14:07 that requires few. On utilise freshwater today something like 85% of the world's freshwater is already been utilized the 14:16 unusual eyes freshwater. It's on utilize because it's in remote places notably Northwest Australia and Siberia and there are good reasons. Why 14:26 reasons of access if you're not using that little freshwater left, A Scramble for freshwater. This growing crops. 14:36

Most serious impending Scramble for freshwater is with a melting of the Himalayan ice cap. But the Himalayan glaciers they provide the water for the 14:46 big rivers of Southeast Asia the Mekong on the brahmaputra in the Ganges and so on mcley dams Upstream for example dams in China 14:55 already cutting off the water supply to dancing countries. Those are the most productive fishery in the world freshwater fishing in the world 15:05 the tonle sap fishery of Cambodia. It's already lost 85% of its production thanks to decreasing water flow in the dams Upstream 15:15

all the countries where there is already a Scramble for freshwater and which come close to conflict over it include turkey and Hungary 15:24 versus Czechoslovakia. And then Egypt Nile facing problems must mean dams. So here's another case with 15:34 geography makes a difference. The last example that I want to give you a geography making a difference is a subtle one and 15:43 that has to do with the differences between China and Europe. Why is it that the Spy China's leader in 15:53

technology in the middle ages seven hundred years ago by China having the world's largest population and deposit despite trying to having to 16:02 see me a dare to draw the political Unity for a long time. Why is it that China has not led the world in is not is not going to leave 16:12 the world a curse of Chinese history is what I called were trying. China precisely because that's Unity workers back and forth between 16:22 success and failure China got unified and you'll see if this is connected to geography China was unified for the first time in the 221 16:31

BC and trying has been unified on and off the most of the time since to 21 BC in the still unified today in contrast. Europe has never been 16:41 unified Europe has always been split into today 50 countries into the path hundreds of different principalities military Geniuses and 16:51 political Geniuses from Augustus to Charmaine to Napoleon. Nobody has ever managed to unify Europe. Well, you might think that Unity is an 17:01 advantage vagina and disunity a disadvantage for your know. It works the opposite way unit e means With one person at the top when the one person 17:11

makes a good decision that's good for the old country. But that one person at the top when that one person makes a bad decision. It's a disaster for 17:20 the country and that's why China lost a technologically China in the Middle Ages lead the world in technology that had the world's biggest ships that 17:27 have the world best ocean-going ships a large Fleet of them and in the from 1405 to 1432 Triana sent out a fleet of its 17:37 Fleet of treasure ships with 20,000 sales on them shift 500 feet long to walk Columbus's ships. China's treasure Fleet sailed 17:47

out 752 Indian down the coast of Africa and looked as if China was on the verge of round in the tip of Africa showing up at conquering Europe, 17:57 but it never happened. Why was unified in 1432. China's one Impala one Emperor said we don't need that please. 18:07 What's at 3000 Springhouse tack giraffes and ivory and we don't need that trying to has everything going for 3:30 to the Emperor of China said no more 18:17 ocean-going sleep. That's what happens with China's Unity contrast that with this Unified District knighted Europe. They was this crazy 18:26

Italian call Christopher Columbus who had the weird idea that you can sail across the Atlantic Ocean when everybody knows that the end of the Atlantic 18:36 Ocean there's a trench and chips will fall into the trench. So Christopher Columbus asked for support from one another third floor prince in 18:44 Italy. Everybody said you're crazy and then went to France the king of France said you're crazy went to Spain the king of things that just lost your 18:54 knots went to Portugal the king of Portugal said ridiculous went back to Spain prior to do care by Franz and finally on the 7th. Try Christopher 19:01

Columbus ships. They were little ships. They were only three of them, but precisely because Europe was disunified. Christopher Columbus have lots of 19:10 chances trying to do not have the chance Christopher Columbus cross the Atlantic did not fall into a trench and the result was then a dream of 19:19 Europeans going around the world with a result that the world today is European on and it's not Chinese eyes. Is that something that was the case 19:28 only in the fast no trying to even today velour trips back and forth between successes and failures under Chairman Mao of China 19:38

collectivized. It's Farms with the results of 30 million people died starve to death epidemic of diabetes. Today is a result in China. There was 19:47 the Great Leap Forward. They was The Madness of the cultural revolution. There was the closing down of China's educational system sending China's 19:57 teachers and professors out into the fields for 2 years to work next to Pesos in this unified Europe. Yes, dear been crazy leaders in 20:05 disunified Europe, but you have his net. Had a crazy leader who is closed down the educational system and could collectivize the farms in 20:15

all of Europe that's been Europe's advantage of your rag muttation has been paradoxically a strength of Europe by 20:25 meaning competition between different countries hunt dozens of different experiments hundreds of different experiments an experiment that works best 20:34 of a conch country Stan copy the what is all the what is the Weather Channel trying to got to do with geography my last homework assignment for you 20:43 just to look at a map of China and compared with a map of Europe. What's going to strike you you will notice that the coast of Europe is 20:51

mass of the indented your past the big Peninsula was the Greek Peninsula the Italian Peninsula Bay Area Peninsula, the Danish Scandinavian 21:01 peninsula of peninsulas became a separate country of Cyprus language of Stanford experiment. Define with smooth fine is only permissible 21:10 yout tongue. Peninsula is too small 11 to become an independent experiment look also at all Islands Europe has big all Islands Britain and 21:20 Ireland Each of which has become an independent experiment and has only one small while to find on close to the mainland 21:30

Hainan never became significant look walls with the rivers of China has tried has two big Rivers the Yellow River and Yangtze River, but 21:38 Ryan has two rivers that flow parallel and the land between them is low. So trying to screw Rivers were connected by Canal early over 21:48 2000 years ago Europe's Rivers again. Look at the map yours blowout radio, like the spokes of a wheel from the Alps in the 21:58 center. So the same goes here in the room goes here in the volume goes here. Yoga goes here in the fiscal goes here and the Dan goes here in the pogos 22:08

here, but Europe's River Basin became a separate experiment became Italy became Germany became France became hungry. We was 22:16 in fine of the the two rivers unified China finally the mountain in Europe. There are the Alps in the center of Europe and they are the Pyrenees 22:26 separating France from Spain and they are the Carpathian Mountains and they were the Border mountains of Scandinavia. Europe is fragmented by Nautica 22:35 on either side of staying here this Italy here and there's Germany here this meeting here in this Norway here. 22:45

So Europe has been fragmented by its peninsulas and buy us. All Islands In this River is in the mountain and the fragmentation of Europe has been the 22:54 strength of your it mean dozens hundreds of competing experiments while China with a smooth Coastline and its lack of significant all islands and it's 23:04 parallel quickly join rivers and slack of mountains in the central core of China. China was unified early 221. BC has been unified 23:13 most of the time since then is still Flight today and that has been and Will Remain the curse of China China's Unity. It 23:23

means the China will continue to Lurch back and forth and we seen that right now the coronavirus good Heavens. It was over the saws epidemic in 23:33 2004 these diseases that come to us from animals. If you are a cruel person who wants to kill as many people in the world as 23:42 possible. You would Foster the transmission of diseases from animals to us human. How would you best boss trip by having opening outdoor Walker? 23:52 Will you bring Wild Kratts animals into the marker? You don't just have the wild animal eaten by the Hunter and just the hunter gets infected. You 24:02

bring all those wild animals and lots of people infected and that was the case in 2004. You would think that that would be enough of a lesson know. It 24:10 wasn't do we have coronavirus today. We will see how trying to alert us to. What it should do is closed down for rapid oil wild animal 24:20 markets in the country, but it didn't do that before that. We'll see what happens today a pincher of geography despite all being a globalized World 24:30 Geography still makes a difference. It makes a difference to well. It makes a difference to resources. It makes a difference to the consequences of 24:39

location of to get makes different even in subtle ways like the smooth Coastline. So this evening if it looks those naps take a look at a map of 24:47 Africa take a look of Napa South America and look at the coastline of trying to take a look at the coastline of Europe and you will see geography 24:57 matters geography will always mad at the geography is the Bedrock of human society. Thank you. 25:05

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