Easter Island-A A +A
By Rox Peña
Thursday, July 31, 2014
LAST Tuesday, I watched a History channel episode about the Easter Island. The focus of the documentary is how an ecological disaster occurred in the small island brought about by several man-made factors. I watched in interest as I was imagining a similar disaster occurring on a larger scale.
Easter Island, locally called Rapa Nui, is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian Triangle. It is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The nearest inhabited is Pitcairn Island 2,075 kilometers away, the nearest town with a population over 500 is Rikitea on island Mangareva 2,606 km away, and the nearest continental point lies in central Chile, 3,512 kilometers away.
Polynesian people settled on Easter Island in the first millennium AD, and created a thriving culture. However, human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources, which caused the demise of the Rapa Nui civilization (Wikipedia).
Easter Island is an isolated place. The inhabitants have nothing except the resources available on the small island and the surrounding seas. Its situation is the same as Earth, the only livable planet in the solar system. We humans have to source all our needs on the planet’s finite resources.
The documentary showed vast tree-less flat lands and bald mountains. The host said the island used to be thickly forested. However, due to the increase in population, the island was eventually deforested and the villagers fought among themselves for the limited resources. There was even mention of cannibalism. This tragedy in the Easter Island is a foresight of what is bound to happen on a global scale.
According to the Global Footprint Network, humanity’s demand on the biosphere for providing natural resources and absorbing carbon dioxide emissions is 44 percent more than what nature can provide. This ecological overshoot means it now takes approximately 18 months for the Earth to regenerate what we use in one year.
If the world will continue with its present lavish lifestyle, taking more than what the Earth can provide, then we will go the way of Easter Island.
Easter Island is a special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888. Administratively, it belongs to the Valparaíso Region and more specifically, is the only commune of the Province Isla de Pascua. According to the 2012 census, it has about 5,800 residents, of which some 60 percent are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.
The island is now famous now for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park. (Wikipedia )
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 01, 2014.