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

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Mon Jan 8 22:21:50 UTC 2007

On 1/8/07, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> You're not actually disagreeing with Diamond. He doesn't bin
> natives and Europeans differently. His main harp chords on ability
> of human socities to sustainably manage their environments, or
> the failure thereof. Introducing potentially invasive species
> willy-nilly to a specific ecology that happens to be fragile is
> a cardinal mistake, which you frequently pay by a population crash.

Perhaps it is just a difference of emphasis, but it doesn't look that way to me.

Diamond seems to claim that a large society destroyed their ecology
and killed most of the population off in civil wars over the last
remnants of food.

Hunt claims that a much smaller society, living within their changing
environment, survived fairly well until genocide from European
invaders (via disease, slave-trading and pillaging) destroyed them.

The Easter Islanders survived OK until the Europeans arrived in 1772
and estimated the population at 2,000 to 3,000. The Stone Heads were
still standing and probably being worked on in the quarries at that
time. Before 1772 the island population might never have been much
more than 3,000 - nobody knows. The volcanic island is only 64 sq
miles in total area (not all suitable for farming).

But their fate was much like the Incas, the Aztec, the American
Indians, the native Africans, the Bushmen...... The list is long. The
Easter Islanders were worse off because their numbers were much
smaller and the European attacks, smallpox and deportations virtually
destroyed them. There were only 110 natives left in 1877, 100 years
after the first European contact in 1772, and all the Stone Heads had
been toppled.


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