J.Diamond “Environmental Collapse of Easter Island” Review

The chapter “Environmental collapse of Easter island” from Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” strikes a reader with its picturesque story of human disgrace depicting an example of early civilization rise and fall. Early Polynesian colonists stepped into a paradise island with diversity of flora and fauna and abundant resources for life, gradually turning it into a wasteland, first by chopping down the rain-forest that basically changed the whole natural system of the island. Once most common palm tree on a island used for firewood and timber for building houses and canoes, transporting and erecting their signature stone statues was gone in a few hundred centuries of human exploitation. The trees were not able to reproduce at the pace of growing population needs. When the last tree was felled and the wood source disappeared the inhabitants could not support their food stocks as they could not build canoes for fishing in the sea. The land was left dry and not fertile for the crops to grow. All species of land and sea birds also became extinct. Building multi-ton deterrent statues became pointless when islanders had to hide from enemies in caves dying from starvation.  The society of approximately 7000 turned to cannibalism. In comparatively short period few generations of the early Island settlers wiped out life out the place. They did not realize the impact of that as they lacked the information, history and knowledge. The author sends a strong awakening message to the countries and communities, whose economic system is based upon ruthless exploitation of resources, neglecting the signs of imminent collapse. He makes a historical reference to degradation of one community to address current environmental and socio-economic crisis on a global level. It’s a truly motivational piece of writing urging today societies to take an action on the most than ever actual problems in human history: overpopulation, loss of biodiversity on land and below water and climate change.


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Tatyana Anashkina

Apprecionado of beauty in every form, sustainability enthusiast, marketing specialist

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