Easter Island. A local metaphor for Global Ecocide?. Diamond writes:.
A local metaphor for Global Ecocide?
I have often asked myself, “What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?” Like modern loggers, did he shout “Jobs, not trees!”? Or: “Technology will solve our problems, never fear, we’ll find a substitute for wood”?
“…the person who felled the last tree could see that it was the last tree. But he (or she) still felled it. This is what is so worrying. Humankind’s covetousness is boundless. Its selfishness appears to be genetically inborn. Selfishness leads to survival. Altruism leads to death. The selfish gene wins. But in a limited ecosystem, selfishness leads to increasing population imbalance, population crash, and ultimately extinction.” -
“The parallels between Easter Island and the whole modern world are chillingly obvious. Thanks to globalization, international trade, jet planes, and the internet, all countries on Earth today share resources and affect each other, just as did Easter’s dozen clans… Those are the reasons why people see the collapse of Easter Island society as a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead of us in our own future.” -
Is it “chillingly obvious”?
The real mystery of Easter Island, however, is not its collapse. It is why distinguished scientists feel compelled to concoct a story of ecological suicide when the actual perpetrators of the civilization's destruction are more likely found in external circumstances
As a final point, I would argue that Easter Island is a poor example for a morality tale about environmental degradation. Easter Island’s tragic experience is not a metaphor for the entire Earth. The extreme isolation of Rapa Nui is an exception even among islands, and does not constitute the ordinary problems of the human environment interface. Yet in spite of exceptionally challenging conditions, the indigenous population chose to survive – and they did…
What they could not endure, however, and what most of them did not survive, was something altogether different: the systematic destruction of their society, their people and their culture via external influence
EI is the story of a people who, starting from an extremely limited resource base, constructed one of the most advanced societies in the world for the technology they had available. However, the demands placed on the environment of the island by this development were immense. When it could no longer withstand the pressure, the society that had been painfully built up over the previous thousand years fell with it.
In 2007, after criticism of his book “Collapse”
“All parameters were stacked against Easter: It is relatively cold, dry, low, small, and isolated, with negligible nutrient inputs from atmospheric dust and volcanic ash, relatively old leached soils, and no uplifted-reef terrain. Thus, Easter became deforested not because its inhabitants were uniquely improvident, nor because its European visitors were uniquely evil, but because Easter Islanders had the misfortune to inhabit one of the Pacific’s most fragile environments.“ -
And a fragile ecosystem is subject to threshold failure
Induced by a natural disaster (Tsunami)
Does this ecocide metaphor to the current environmental issues on the global Earth seem appropriate? Why or why not?