What Happened On Easter Island — A New (Even Scarier) Scenario : Krulwich Won...
We all know the story, or think we do. Let me tell it the old way, then the new way. See which worries you most. Robert Krulwich/NPR First version: Easter Island is a small 63-square-mile patch of land — more than a thousand miles from the next inhabited spot in the Pacific Ocean. These settlers were farmers, practicing slash-and-burn agriculture, so they burned down woods, opened spaces, and began to multiply. As Jared Diamond tells it in his best-selling book, Collapse, Easter Island is the "clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources." When Captain James Cook visited there in 1774, his crew counted roughly 700 islanders (from an earlier population of thousands), living marginal lives, their canoes reduced to patched fragments of driftwood. And that has become the lesson of Easter Island — that we don't dare abuse the plants and animals around us, because if we do, we will, all of us, go down together. A Story Of Success? Success? I wonder.
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