Friday, December 12, 2008

I don't think so...(Easter Island)

The exhibition's interest and controversy comes in a display about the disappearance of the island's foliage that left the place with a little more than 100 people in the 1800s after once, centuries earlier, having as many as 20,000.

Since the mid-1990s and an article written by the American academic Jared Diamond, the idea has been popularized - as in the EDF commercial - that men determined to make bigger statues led to deforestation and the implosion of the island's unique civilization.

Diamond called it "an escalating spiral of one-upmanship as rival clans tried to surpass one another with shows of wealth and power."

He imagines concerned islanders' warnings "being overridden by vested interests of carvers, burocrats and chiefs," and insists, "Easter Island is the Earth writ small."
Here's a about 1100 AD there were already an estimated 8,000 Polynesians living on a triangular island only 64 square miles large. I'm not going to point fingers, but I'm guessing that there was a significant amount of inbreeding going on. I don't think I'm pushing the envelope when I deduce that the generations of the 1,100's were likely a bit more supersticious than we are today. When the six fingers and six toes started showing up, they thought that Easter Island might not be the best of retirement communities.

Also, 8,000 people and growing rapidly on 64 square mile island (which by the way had and has very poor coastline fishing) is going to put a dent in the environment. Historians say that the population peaked at about 20,000 and dropped off eventually. American academic Jared Diamond (do you think he puts that on his recycled business card?) seems to be missing the mystique and purely spiritual aspects of Easter Island by totally discarding why all those people left, and who remained (and why).

I think it is more likely that Easter Island took on a very evil reputation in the minds of those who knew about it. Legends grew...and the entire parcel became nothing more than an appeasement to their Gods so that people didn't have to wander around know...six toes on each foot and a hand coming out of their shoulder. Little more that 100 people can surely clear a forest of palm trees...if that is their goal...which it just might have been.
Gormless Worm, Another American Academic of some proportion