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.
Here are some ideas I thought of and a few that I gleaned from a few references. You will need to find several others to complete this assignment.
Only some 150 square miles in area, Easter Island is a microcosm for the problems we face today. Its native inhabitants arrived in the fifth century AD and quickly established a highly advanced culture of about 7,000-15,000 people. By the 18th century, the few remaining islanders lived in a primative manner. The harsh conditions they faced are indicated in oral traditions which focus on cannibalism. To severely insult an enemy one would say: "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth" (Diamond 2005:109).
Little effort was required to raise crops on Easter island. This allowed for the development of a sophisticated social structure. Clans were led by chiefs and competed with each other. Among their competitions were the construction of ahus, or ceremonial areas with large statues. These immense statues required alarming amounts ...
The history of Easter Island is provided in this 624 word response, along with a discussion on how the situation of the island is similar to Earth's current situation. References are included.