Easter Island is located in the Pacific Ocean and is 1500 miles from the next closest island. It is the most remote piece of land on Earth. It is 11 miles by 7 miles in size.
Despite the small size and the remote location it was discovered by a family of Polynesians about 400 AD. At the time of discovery the island was covered with large trees. It was a rather fertile island. The people prospered and multiplied. By AD 1550 the population on the island hit a high of between 7000 and 9000 people.
These Polynesians built monuments, known, as "moai". No one seems to attempt to speculate on why they built these statues facing the ocean but a logical reason would be to attract any ship passing by the island. However, a project such as this would provide a group challenge and could also serve as a religious endeavor. If I was a member of a group of people trapped on a small island for hundreds of years I would not want a ship to pass by without knowing I was there.
For centuries life was ok. Then in the 16th century the population reached 7000 to 9000 people on an island 11 x 7 miles in size. The resources of the island were taxed excessively. Then you consider they were there for 1000 years. When the island was discovered in 1722 by Admiral Roggeveen there were only 2000 people left on the island. Due to a lack of resources and overpopulation the people had resorted to cannibalism after the 16th century. The island had been stripped of all its trees.
There surely were people who made suggestions regarding the increase in population but it surely fell on deft ears. What was once a habitable island became an ecological disaster.
Do we have a metaphor here? We now have 6.5 billion people on a finite Earth. The recipe for survival becomes more complex as our population increases and our natural resources decrease. How do we know when we have exceeded the capacity of the Earth to maintain itself? With the rapid deletion of natural resources it appears we are not maintaining equilibrium.
By 2012 we will have 7 billion people and by 2050 the population will be 10 billion. Populations are growing most rapidly where such growth can be afforded the least. Then the people of these overcrowded areas want to move to the areas where it is not yet as crowded. They also tend to bring their population growth rate with them to some extent.
What is our genuine concern towards our children and grandchildren? Are they nothing more than images of ourselves? Do they simply carry our name and bloodline with them so we can have another measure or immortality? When we go to the gas pump do we say, ok some for me and some for them? No. It is all for us and right now.
From a political point of view we are competing with other countries. If we use more expensive forms of fuel and our competitors or enemies uses fossil fuels they will gain an economical edge on us. So unless the whole world works in unison it will be difficult to persuade one country to make a sacrifice while others do not.
From a scientific point of view the numbers look bad with our present rate of consumption.
So the conclusion might be that we all survive together or we all die together. With radical groups of people trying to enact destruction it is difficult for all nations to find common ground in pursuing world peace and a sustainable future. Then you also have the more civilized people who are opposed to change. At present it looks like we are exactly like the people of Easter Island. We know we are doomed and can do nothing about our consumption addiction. We find contentment by blocking it out of our mind or tuning to a broadcast station that tells us everything is ok and we are doing as we should.
The pictures in this article were taken from Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.