Yali’s Question: why we had so little cargo of our own?

Yali’s famous question from the book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

“All of those things must have been on Yali’s mind when, with yet another penetrating glance of his flashing eyes, he asked me, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?” – pg 14


“The, questions about inequality (Yali’s question) in the modern world can be reformulated as follows. Why did wealth and power become distributed as they are now, rather than in some other way? For instance, why weren’t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and Asians?” – pg 16

and the conclusion

“Yali’s question went to the heart of the current condition, and of post-Pleistocene human history… how shall we answer Yali? I would say to Yali: the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environments.” – pg 405

Ecosystems matter. Our environment matters. And in fact it becomes a matter of human rights in the long term. Yali was a wise man.