Easter Island

Essay by caramel17College, UndergraduateB+, March 2009

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Easter Island is one of the most unusual places on the planet. It is one of the most isolated places occupied by humans. In 'A Green History of the World' Clive Ponting notes, “Easter Island is one of the most remote, inhabited places on earth. Only some 150 square miles in area, it lies in the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles off the west coast of South America and 1,250 miles from the nearest inhabitable land of Pitcairn Island.” (Ponting p.15)Easter Island was once a haven for its inhabitants. It provided them with all of their needs, food, shelter, tools, and even the ability to create great works of art. They abused this Eden, and turned it into a disaster, with almost no natural resources. This could very well happen to us, because our earth is the same Eden that Easter Island once was.

The people of Easter Island came over to their new land, and recognized that it was ideal for them to settle.

The land was lush; the sea was providing a bounty of fresh fish, and other seafood. The earth was dark brown and very rich. Everything was just the way it needed to be to support a growing community of people. They began to farm, and cultivate their land. They logged large fern trees so they could harpoon dolphins in deep water. They logged smaller trees to move great boulders, which they were going to sculpt into monuments to their extraordinary civilization. They were slowly removing all of the natural resources from their land.

After many years with no environmental planning the natural resources began to decrease. The islander’s loss of raw materials, of wild-caught foods, and decreased crop yields. Without trees they could not build canoes and so their diet became deprived of protein afforded by porpoise and other fish. Deforestation also caused soil erosion damaging to overall soil fertility. Lacking harvests drove many individuals to starvation and cannibalism. Hostility and violence accompanied competition for wood and food remains. The people also suffered a loss to their culture as limited resources halted the construction of the moi statues.

What Ponting concludes is that the deforestation responsible for the collapse of the Easter Island society was mostly self-induced. Trees were used for firewood and to cremate bodies. Trees were also cleared for gardens because competition among clans to build larger moi statues demanded the intensification of agriculture. It is no coincidence that the 300 years of peak construction coincided with a 25% increase in overall food supply that was donated mostly to the carvers and construction crews. Competition to build larger statues also called for increased amounts of timber to be used for rope and other building materials. Rats were also a factor in the decline of forest.

The fall of Easter Island was from the mistakes of the natives and decisions made about the island. The land was overpopulated and there was no environmental plan for the future. These lessons teach us how to control our world today so that the same problem that occurred on Easter Island does not happen to us.

Works Cited123helpme!com “Easter Island Essays”.

http://www.123helpme.com/search.asp?text=easter+island&sort=relevance&mode=TEXT” 09 February 2009Easter Island Home Page.

http://www.netaxs.com/~trance/rapanui.html 08 February 2009Ponting, Clive. A Green History of the World. “The Lessons of Easter Island”.

08 February 2009