Guns, Germs and Steel summary by Jared Diamond, Ph.D., offers eleven lessons that address how we use and control germs and bacteria in our lives. The book discusses why not all germs are dangerous, what types are there, and what causes them to multiply quickly. It also delves into the practicalities of daily life, such as why handwashing is important and how food can affect the spread of germs. These concepts are explored in-depth and beautifully depicted in a way that anyone, no matter how uneducated or unaware, can grasp.
Diamond does a wonderful job of explaining some of these concepts in a way that almost anybody can grasp. He does this by listing the benefits associated with them and then discussing how each concept can be applied to everyday life. This book is also very simple to read, which is always a plus. A high-quality writing style keeps the content easy to understand and learn.
One lesson focuses on the value of being aware of pathogens. Most people in our society have been exposed to many harmful substances, including chemicals and hazardous wastes. Some of these things are actually known to be carcinogenic. Other things have no fatalities associated with them, but they can still cause illness after prolonged use. Diamond addresses this issue head-on to explain why it is important to wear safety goggles and gloves when handling metals like iron and stainless steel. This use of protective equipment protects against the possibility of metal particles becoming airborne, which could be inhaled.
Diamond uses examples of real germs in his discussion as well. One example is anthrax. Diamond points out that it was used as a weapon of mass destruction during the Cold War, but that such was illegal and that it has since been used less frequently due to its genotoxic properties. Similarly, germs like the Q fever virus that causes Q fever can be transmitted through unprotected skin contact.
Diamond points out that humans have been using metals as food for millennia. Some of the first food produced by humans was made out of ash from volcanoes. Today, most of the world’s energy is produced by burning fossil fuels made out of iron. Diamond makes a point of showing how much potential these metals have in providing us with usable energy.
Diamond also points out the practicality of this knowledge. Many of today’s technological advances are the result of the discovery of metals throughout history. For example, steel was used by ancient civilizations for weapons and armor. Its strength and malleability made it ideal for creating items like battle gears. Diamond makes a convincing case for noting that it will become much more common to use metals in the future in both personal and industrial applications.
Diamond also makes an important point about why we should care about preserving the earth’s environment. Most metals used in modern technology are known to run off into the environment in some manner. For example, some metals get contaminated water supplies. Other forms of contamination come from the exhaust gases created by modern vehicles. Guns, germs, and steel can cause major ecological damage if not preserved properly.
Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel summary is a valuable bit of information. It makes a case for focusing on the practical and theoretical when using metals for various purposes. In particular, the value of using metals in weaponry cannot be overlooked. In a modern society where so many technological advances can potentially harm the environment, it is important to take preventative measures against possible problems.