[ExI] Easter Island again

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Mar 29 22:25:32 UTC 2009

At 09:13 PM 3/28/2009, Lee wrote:
>Alas! So many great emails, so little time  :-(
>Keith writes


>(in the below, you do not address hydroponics specifically
>---have you looked into it?)

When I was in junior high school I built a heated greenhouse and 
raised, or rather tried to raise, hydroponics tomatoes in the middle 
of the winter.  They never set fruit, but when I gave up in the 
spring my dad put some of them in the garden where (with the right 
day length and temperatures) they did make lots of tomatoes.

It was an interesting experience.  Hydroponics requires a steady 
stream of chemicals to replace those the plants are taking up.

The problem wasn't raising plants on Easter Island.  It's rich 
volcanic soil.  Meat was a more difficult problem.  The only 
domesticated animal they had was chickens.  Before they lost the 
ability to go to sea in a big way, they were eating a lot of porpoises.

No matter the details of when they got there or how high the 
population went, or the effect of the rats (which Diamond discusses 
in relation to the trees) the important point is that they lost the 
materials to make boats in the ecological collapse.  One thing 
Diamond doesn't mention which is apparent from the 1260 collapse of 
the southwest corn farmers is that warfare and farming are a bad combination.

The point of discussing this is the context of trying to build up 
industry on the moon.  Lunar resources are in the same class as what 
you have available on Easter Island, rocks.  If you don't think you 
could build up an industrial base on Easter Island, the same might 
apply to the moon.


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