Thursday, March 09, 2006


In #249, I linked to a detailed study showing that Jared Diamond's theory of the eco-collapse of Easter Island is a fairy tale.

This morning, popmonkey discovered more new research debunking Diamond's theory. Excerpts from the report:
View of Easter Island Disaster All Wrong, Researchers Say
Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer Thu Mar 9, 3:00 PM ET

The first settlers on Easter Island didn't arrive until 1200 AD, up to 800 years later than previously thought, a new study suggests.

The revised estimate is based on new radiocarbon dating of soil samples collected from one of oldest known sites on the island, which is in the South Pacific west of Chile.

The finding challenges the widely held notion that Easter Island's civilization experienced a sudden collapse after centuries of slow growth. If correct, the finding would mean that the island's irreversible deforestation and construction of its famous Moai statues began almost immediately after Polynesian settlers first set foot on the island.
Apparently, there wasn't time for the population to grow enough to collapse:
Also, the few thousand people Europeans encountered when they first arrived on Easter Island might not have been the remnants of a once great and populous civilization as widely believed. The researchers think a few thousand people might have been all the island was ever able to support.

"There may not have actually been any collapse," Lipo told LiveScience. "With only 500 years, there's no reason to believe there had to have been a huge [population] growth."
So what caused the collapse of Easter Island? Europeans. Lipo concludes:
"The collapse was really a function of European disease being introduced," Lipo said. "The story that's been told about these populations going crazy and creating their own demise may just be simply an artifact of [Christian] missionaries telling stories."


Lipo thinks the story of Easter Island's civilization being responsible for its own demise might better reflect the psychological baggage of our own society than the archeological evidence.

"It fits our 20th century view of us as ecological monsters," Lipo said. "There's no doubt that we do terrible things ecologically, but we're passing that on to the past, which may not have actually been the case. To stick our plight onto them is unfair."
-- by JD


At Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 9:08:00 PM PST, Blogger Fat Man said...

Like I said.

At Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at 1:46:00 PM PST, Blogger GermanDom said...

And you want to believe one scientist who makes a contrary claim? And these couple hundred people deforested the island and set up the statues?

Well, ok, if you really think so.

Or was it indeed aliens?!!!

At Wednesday, April 12, 2006 at 10:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger 8riaN said...

So one apologist wants to claim Easter Island died of smallpox (or some equivalent.) Fine, I'll accept the challenge to that one theory of human-induced ecological collapse. But to post it as proof that human-induced ecological collapse is entirely fabricated by wimpy, self-deprecating eco-weenies is patently ridiculous. What about the Mayan civilization? There is ample evidence that their hunger for plaster deforested the entire region and collapse their civilization: for a random site supporting this contention. What about the New England Cod fisheries, what about the Sahara desert, what about bison and passenger pigeons and the dodo. If your point is maybe one of these ecological events was caused by humans moving diseases around rather than humans over-consuming resources, then fine. But if your point is that all stories of humans over-consuming resources are examples of self-chastising, forgiveness-seeking, intellectually bankrupt liberal weenies, then you'd better take your argument to a nice safe echo-chamber where nobody actually reads anything that doesn't toe the party line, 'cause you'll have a damn hard-sell out here in the real world where we realize that the fact that the oil industry itself hasn't built new refining capacity in 30 years means they know something about supply they aren't telling us.

At Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 4:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger Nanook said...

Regarding the comment left by 'dom', is it the scientists claim that is relevant or the radiocarbon dating?

Scientists have opinions, like anyone else, but radiocarbon dating provides you with data. If you want to ignore the scientists opinion fine, just find another way to explain the data.

At Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 2:03:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Dom, no. We shouldn't just take one Scientists word. Honestly none of us will ever really know what happened to these people. However it is funny how many of you pundits of Peak Oil believe that 7 million years ago Oil was created just like this! How do we know for sure. If you ask me, if it wasn't documented, or seen...How can it be 100% correct. What Historians thought about a civilization 50 years ago, could have been completely rewritten because of new "light" or "eveidence" on the matter. It's all speculation. Why do you think poeple record History? To do away with not knowing for sure, in fact I record History every day in my journal, for this very purpose.


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