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GGR329 Question & Answers for Midterm.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Pierre Desrochers

GGR329 Question Answers 1. Give a basic definition of environmental determinism. What is Ludwig von Mises’ take on the concept? 1.a) A basic definition of Environmental Determinism (also known as climatic or geographical determinism) is the view that physical environment sets limits on or determines the fate of humans. The claim that physical geography, particularly climate influenced the mind set of people, which in turn defined the behaviour and culture of the society that those individuals formed. Example tropical climates said to cause laziness, relaxed attitudes and promiscuity, while variable weather of middle latitudes led to determination and good work ethics. b) Ludwig von Mises’ take on the concept of environmental determinism is that there is a misconception in the interpretation that physical, geological, climatic conditions, flora and fauna of a region determines the thoughts and actions of its inhabitants. Instead Ludwig von Mises identifies the misconception of the above interpretation as geography as an active and human action as a passive factor. So geography determines the fate of humans but human action does not. Man lives in a definite geographical environment and is forced to adjust his action to the conditions of this environment. But the way he adjusts himself, methods of social, technological and moral adaptation, are not determined by external physical factors. For example the North American continent did not produce the civilization of Indian aborigines. According to Ludwig von Mises the truth in environmentalism is the cognition that every individual lives at a definite epoch or geographical space and acts under the conditions determined by this environment. The environment determines the situation but not the response. The response the actor (s) choose depends on their individuality. So geography therefore does not determine the fate of humans, but rather, human action determines the fate of humans, according to Ludwig von Mises. 2. What is Ricardo Hausmann’s argument as to how the fact that a country is “landlocked” (surrounded by land) affects its growth prospects? How does he account for the plight of tropical agriculture? 2.a) Ricardo Hausmann’s argument that a country that is “landlocked” affects its growth prospects because landlocked nations may never enjoy access to internal (local) and external (international) markets. Also landlocked nations need new technologies to flourish in the global economy. Nations with populations far from a coastline tend to be poorer and show lower rates of economic growth than coastal countries. Landlocked countries, in today’s global market place would require inputs from various locations around the world, however transportation costs are high *study* shipping goods over 1 km of land costs as much as shipping them over 7extra km of sea. Landlocked countries if no physical infrastructure (roads, railways, ports) had to access navigable rivers and sea. Crossing borders costly for landlocked countries. *Study* crossing United States and Canadian border add four thousand to sixteen km of transportation costs. Landlocked countries have the challenge of co-ordinating infrastructure expenditures with neighbouring countries, political and commercial problems inhibit their passage to sea. b) Ricardo Hausmann accounts for the plight of tropical agriculture by saying because of little or no GGR329 Question Answers research and development in tropical agriculture, tropical countries left out of “modern-technology club,” have little or no money to spend on research and development, so they do not know which variety or crop to plant and where it can grow, non existent expenditure of private agricultural producers, so no private funding, agricultural workers produce only a little more than what they require for personal subsistence so no exporting, cannot support large urban populations and high transportation costs in accessing world markets. 3. What is Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin’s take on the various environmental determinist explanations that have been used to explain Africa’s current social and economic plight? Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin’s take on the various environmental determinist explanations that have been used to explain Africa’s current social and economic plight is that geography and history, that is environmental determinism does not matter significantly for the ability of Third World African countries to grow and reduce poverty. In Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin’s *study* while poverty levels start out matching the environmental determinist hypothesy, the poverty rates for countries on either side of the breakdown tend to converge, with the disadvantaged countries reducing poverty significantly to catch up to the advantaged ones. Therefore neither geographical nor historical (that is, environmental determinism) disadvantages are obstacles to Africa’s current social and economic plight, poverty reduction. 4. What is Diamond's take on traditional 'environmental determinist' arguments? 1. Racial or genetic superiority, no objective evidence 2. Cold climate stimulates inventiveness  But Europeans inherited  Agriculture  Wheels  Writing  Metallurgy from warm peoples 3. Lowland river valleys in dry climates depended on irrigation and centralized bureaucracies  Nile river valley  Tigris & Euphrates Valley  Yellow & Yangtza Valleys  But irrigation systems followed, not accompanied bureaucracies 4. Guns, infectious diseases, steel tools manufactured goods 5. What is the megafauna 'overkill' hypothesis? What are the main arguments in its favour? megafauna = large animals such as elephants, mammoths, rhinoceros and diprotodon The megafauna ‘overkill’ hypothesis is thought that at the end of the last age, conditions became increasing warmer. This warm weather caused the megafauna to be replaced by more weather adapted animals, such as elk, deer and pigs. GGR329 Question Answers The main arguments in favour are temperate climate made way for more adapted animals. In Australia, most animals lost their habitat and water supply, causing them to retreat to a narrow band in eastern Australia where there was permanent water and better vegetation. 6. What are the main arguments against the megafauna overkill hypothesis? What are the alternative explanations for the disappearance of megafauna outside of Africa? What is Diamond's position in this debate?  The main arguments against are... on pg.42 - Defenders of the overkill hypothesis reply: you would hardly expect to find kill sites if the extermination was completed very quickly and long ago, such as within few millennia some 40,000 years ago. - The MAIN ARGUMENT AGAINST (the critics respond with a counter theory): Perhaps the giants succumbed instead to a change in climate, such as severe drought on the already chronically dry Australian continent Alternative explanations for the disappearance results in the megafauna being hunted to extinction by early hunter-gatherers. Diamond’s position is that the megafauna extinction is due to the arrival of early humans, either by elimination or by non-direct means. Please refer to: info in case something is missing or you want to check. Pg. 42 in the textbook, you can also check out 43-44, 46-47, 162, 175, 213 and 355 7. Describe concisely the range of Polynesian environmental conditions. Describe concisely the types of societies that resulted from these conditions. What does this prove according to Diamond? Describe concisely the range of Polynesian environmental conditions  climate – warm tropical cold sub Antarctic  geology – coral atolls continental  rainfall – highest recorded too dry for agriculture  phys. geo – (alpine) mountain range coral beaches Describe concisely the types of societies that resulted from these conditions.  subsistence – hunters-gatherers intensive food production  social organization – fairly egalitarian extremely stratified  political organization – tribes multi-island proto-empire  material culture – personal utensil monumental stone architecture What does this prove according to Diamond? GGR329 Question Answers Factors that Vary Due to Different Polynesian Societies  human pop. Density  human pop. size (pop. density x area [political unit])  structure – social complexity, political organization  tools and other aspects of material culture (i.e. availability of raw materials)  all these factors result from wild food, useful materials, fresh H2O, tropical agriculture, trade w/ other settlements - Polynesian societies differed in economic specialization, social complexity, political organization and material products related to diff.s in pop. size and density, related to diff.s in island area, fragmentation and isolation in opp.s for subsistence and intensive food production - categories of cultural diff.s w/in Polynesia are same categories emerged everywhere else in the world - shows world’s human social diversity 8. According to Diamond, what factors did not really account for the success of Spanish Conquistadors? What factors were more significant? What is George Raudzens' main critique of Diamond's proximate (or most significant) factors? What was the key factor in his opinion? According to Diamond, what factors did not really account for the success of Spanish Conquistadors?  Native allies  Psychological novelty (horses/weapons)  Being mistaken for Gods What factors were more significant?  Weapons/horses  Smallpox: already decimated the Inca Empire (did most of the job for the Spaniards this Incas were already exhausted when the Spaniards came)  Other proximate factors: naval power (Spaniards had ships), political organization in Spain, writing in Spain What is George Raudzens' main critique of Diamond's proximate (or most significant) factors? GGR329 Question Answers  Invasions ultimately “succeeded” not through fighting, but when influx of settlers was large enough to overwhelm native populations in target areas, massive death rates occurred after key American colonies were permanently set What was the key factor in his opinion?  oceanic transport monopoly was critical for European colonial conquerors, making firepower and diseases marginal in their influence on beating native defenders 9. What were the main advantages of horses over llamas? What are the main qualities that Spaniards were looking for in a sword? How were these qualities achieved? What were the main advantages of horses over llamas?  horses provided: food, fertilizer, load-bearing power, and transport transforming productivity of land  llamas provided meat, wool and fertilizer, but didn’t have load-bearing power couldn’t plough or transport human beings and could be ridden for war What are the main qualities that Spaniards were looking for in a sword?  hard, strong, sharp, have certain pliability How were these qualities achieved?  Hard: steel needs to be infused with C and the moreC into the Fe, harder the metal becomes (too hard is not good b/c will break when hitting someone);  Pliability: heat to certain T, plunge in cold water and a lot of experimentation needed for sword- making - Toledo had best swords in world; require highly sophisticated metal-working tech - Europeans inherited metal tech b/c near Fertile Crescent 7. Describe concisely the range of Polynesian environmental conditions. Describe concisely the types of societies that resulted from these conditions. What does this prove according to Diamond? · Environmental Conditions o Climate: Warm tropical to cold sub Antarctic o Geology: Coral Atolls to Continental GGR329 Question Answers o Rainfall: Highest recorded to too dry for agriculture o Physical Geography: (Alpine) mountain ranges to coral beaches o These above conditions had an effect on a human societies population size, density, and structure. This is because the environment determined if there was wild food, useful materials, fresh water, whether or not tropical agriculture was possible, and if trade with other settlements was possible. · Polynesian Societies: o Subsistence: Hunter-gatherers to intensive food production o Social Organization: Fairly egalitarian to extremely stratified o Political Organization: Tribes to multi-island proto-empires o Material Culture: Personal utensils to monumental stone architecture · Page 56-57: o The Chathams are relatively small and remote islands, capable of supporting a total population of only about 2,000 hunter-gatherers. With no other accessible islands to colonize, the Moriori had to remain in the Chathams, and to learn how to get along with each other. They did so by renouncing war, and they reduced potential conflicts from overpopulation by castrating some male infants. The result was a small, unwarlike population with simple technology and weapons, and without strong leadership or organization. o In contrast, the northern (warmer) part of New Zealand, by far the largest island group in Polynesia, was suitable for Polynesian agriculture. Those Maori who remained in New Zealand increased in numbers until there were more than 100,000 of them. They developed locally dense populations chronically engaged in ferocious wars with neighboring populations. With the crop surpluses that they could grow an
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