[extropy-chat] Easter Island not a human-created disaster?

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Mon Jan 8 17:38:28 UTC 2007

On 1/8/07, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> ### No Eugen, humans typically gain advantage by introducing alien
> species (wheat, potatoes, cattle, etc.) and changing ecosystems.
> The occasional plague of rats or snakes is just a trifle compared to
> the benefits of alien species.
> -----------------------------------------------

I am not an archaeologist.
But Terry Hunt, who wrote the report I linked to, certainly is.
Terry L. Hunt is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the
University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he has taught since 1988. He
earned his master's degree in anthropology from the University of
Auckland in New Zealand and his Ph.D. in anthropology from the
University of Washington. Hunt has been conducting archaeological
field research in the Pacific Islands for nearly 30 years, and he is
currently director of the University of Hawaii Rapa Nui Archaeological
Field School.

His report claims that the settlers of Easter Island deliberately
brought chickens and the Polynesian rat with them as a food source.
The Polynesian rat (which his report blames for much of the
deforestation on Easter Island and other pacific islands) is now
extinct on Easter Island in the face of competition from rat species
introduced by Europeans.

> ### Yes, societal collapse due to natural, extrinsic causes is very uncommon.

Jared Diamond made Easter Island the main plank in his book about
collapsing societies. So if it is removed, then his case is certainly
much weaker.

The effect of climate changes (drought, floods, plagues, disease,
etc.) on early human societies is a hidden history that is only now
gradually being revealed. Ancient history recorded wars, revolutions,
invasions, as written by the victors, recording their achievements.
But they rarely commented on the environmental factors that often
drove people to these desperate measures, or weakened the losing
opponents in the war.
In some cases the society just disappeared..


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