Better late than never. Got the book from the library here in NJ where I am visiting my kids.
Seems to me there is merit in Diamond's 5 point approach to the reasons for collapses, but he hammers pretty hard on the environmental damage, caused either by Mother Nature or by the society itself, as always a main factor.
I don't think we can get away from that reason, which is glaring at us. No matter how you name it, or how you intellectualize it, if a society damages (or even changes significantly) it's natural environment, it alters, and probably for the worse) the area of the earth that supports it.
I was struck by the student's comment on what the guy said as he cut down the last tree on Easter Island. From a distance, we can look at this act and say, 'couldn't he see he was cutting the last tree?' But today, in all parts of the US, people are cutting down the last tree in any given area to make way for a new housing development, a new mall, a new parking lot, and I doubt if anyone now is saying...gee, I'm cutting the last tree, bulldozing the last vestige of grass, eliminating the final habitat for X animal/insect.
I was hoping, from the title of the book, for a more psychological/political approach, and perhaps it was there, but the environmental message took center stage so strongly that the more subtle message may have slipped me by. (I had the only copy of the book available, and it was only a 7 day loan, so I had to rip through it pretty fast.)
Anyway, great read, learned a lot of new stuff, found the article on the mining in Montana pretty scary because where I live, Zacatecas, is an area built on the silver mining industry. In the 1700 and 1800's, mercury was a heavily used method to extract silver from the poorer ores, and is now leaching itself thru the environment to the concern of no one.
Marti in Mexico