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4.11.2010

Easter Island : A Case Study in the Response to Resource Depletion


Source: Energy Bulletin (Ralph Faggotter)

This is a case study in which you are invited to answer the question, “What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?”

For a several years, I have been intrigued by this question which Jared Diamond asks us to consider in his book ‘Collapse’.

In fact, the question can be asked more broadly: “What were the thought processes and discussions amongst the inhabitants of Easter Island leading up to the removal of the last remnants of forest?” This could be seen, perhaps, as a hypothetical exploration, rooted in a real historical event, of “the psychology of resource depletion denial.”

I can’t help feeling that this is highly relevant to us today where the world seems shrunk to the size of a small island in the vast ocean of space. How could the islanders so knowingly have destroyed the life-blood of their island and their own future? How do you imagine the Easter Islanders behaved in those last few years before the last tree was felled?

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