The Lessons of Easter Island Essay

Published: 2020-02-24 00:32:30
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Category: Island

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Easter Islands story is a fascinating look into the degeneration of isolated societies, and how this story might just happen to the world today. The island is one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world, located 3600 km west of continental Chile which administers the island. According to Jared Diamond (2005) The overall picture for Easter is the most extreme example of forest destruction in the Pacific, and among the most extreme in the world: the whole forest gone, and all of tree species extinct. (p. 107)

Today, Easter Island is grassland with sparse trees rarely forming small groves. This severe change can be hypothesized to have been caused by human encroachment in the area, and the subsequent overpopulation that led to the extinguishment of natural resources in the island. This eventually led to the destruction of the society a few decades before the first Europeans arrived. The statues of Rapa Nui, called the Moai, give an insight into what had happened.

These statues were constructed in a relatively short period of time, during the apex of Easter Islands society. Timber would have been undoubtedly used to transport these huge blocks of stone, which would of course require trees. The disappearance of the islands trees seems to coincide with a decline in Easter Island civilization around the 17th-18th century. With rapid deforestation combined with overpopulation, people resorted to cannibalism to find food as timber for fishing boats became scarce.

This example serves as a warning for the world today in its exploitation of the limited resources provided by the Earth. We are all, in fact, living in an island we cant leave, and so, we must show discretion in consuming its resources. The worldwide demand for fossil fuels, for example, cannot be sustained indefinitely, and measures to curb energy demand or at least switch to renewable forms of energy should be taken heed.

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