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Easter Island as a bad example

Details: You have been asked to prepare a speech for the annual convention of Citizens for a Greener Planet, a national environmental group, on the idea of sustainable development. Since many of your listeners are not scientists, you want to use examples that lay people can understand. You have decided to illustrate the concept by discussing the social factors that brought about the collapse of the Easter Island civilization. You then intend to compare these events to the on-going deforestation of the Amazon rain forest. Conclude the speech by explaining what should be done to make sustainable development a reality.

Objective: Examine the sustainability of an ecosystem.

Once again, we are focusing on ecosystems and sustainability.

A good focus area here is deforestation.

Read about what happens with Easter Island. Then think about our current rates of deforestation occurring throughout the world. Do our current rates compare with what happened on Easter Island?

Do you think this area of environmental issues plays into what some people call ''environmental war''? Do we foresee a future like that of Easter Island?

Solution Preview

First and foremost there is much debate still over exactly what happened to Easter Island. Once recent area of study point to rodents (still an anthropogenic import) that ate the seeds of the palms, and thus contributing to the ecological calamity, others like Jared Diamond point to almost entirely human-induced "ecocide.." I will supply references on both sides for the interest of fairness of perspective. However, given the bent of your problem, this may not be germane. Yours is more the area of Environmental Risk Communication, and this I can assist in....I will try and give you some pointed references and a bit of metaphor to work with - and I think your two-three pages ought to come together pretty nicely.

The standard view until recently has been that Easter Island, an isolated, previously forested, subtropical island was the poster child for human dominated ecosystems gone awry. Recent evidence says that perhaps this was not so, but for ...

Solution Summary

Looks at the downfall of Easter Isalnd's people as the way NOT to run an ecosystem

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