Sunday, June 30, 2024

No Ecocide on Easter Island

Science news:
The people of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, were not the instruments of their own demise, according to new research.

In a comprehensive new study, researchers found that the population of monument-carvers could not possibly have been big enough to collapse under the demands placed on their environment, as has previously been suggested.

The myth of this so-called Rapa Nui "ecocide" – held up for decades as a cautionary tale about overexploitation of natural resources – should be firmly relegated to the bin of outdated theories, scientists now say.

This finding is just the latest in a mounting body of evidence that the Pacific Islander population's decline had nothing to do with their way of living.

Jared Diamond is famous for telling elaborate stories about how the people of Easter Island chopped down all the tree until the island was uninhabitable. I was always skeptical, as the people had no written records.

1 comment:

CFT said...

Replacing one trope that has fallen out of favor with another newer more trendy trope isn't exactly an improvement. I read the article and was quite unimpressed, noting some of the language stood out, such as "more evidence suggests that they were still there on the island living quite happily when the Europeans arrived". They somehow know the natives were living 'quite happily' (mentioned twice in the article), and yet they don't actually know what happened to them... and I'm sure they ALSO somehow knew that the population had been stable at 3000 for a long time because???... oops, they don't mention anything whatsoever about that.

We've gone from 'self inflicted ecocide' (a cautionary 70's trope) to 'evil white Europeans' (present day cautionary trope). Isn't that cute how the new and improved 'narrative' exactly fits the current social political climate? What are the odds that actual historical truth should so perfectly dovetail into current contemporary attitudes?