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The Lesson of Easter Island Essay

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Bill Gaede once said, “Science is not about making predictions or performing experiments. Science is about explaining (Goodreads, 2012).” This paper will convey an explanation, based on scientific method, on how the people of Easter Island shattered their island leaving only a small percentage of people to live there. Easter Island is remotely located in the Pacific Ocean. The island is about 1,395 miles from the nearest populated island. When the European explorers reached the island in 1722 they found a desolate landscape with less than 2,000 people existing there. They noticed that the inhabitants lived in caves and had a very limited supply of crops. Who could miss the gigantic statues carved out of stone? This was evidence that there was refined civilization that once lived there. After searching the island and taking survey of what were still here, questions then arise. How did the people of this island transport these statues that stood 33 feet tall, and weighed up to 99 tons as far as 6.2 miles from where they were constructed in the quarries to the coastal sites where they were positioned?

What happened to the people who once populated this island? Who were these people, culture, nationality and traditions? Last but not least, where were all the trees and vegetation that once occupied this island? The first hypothesis the researchers considered was the forest was lost because of climate change, but evidence quickly pointed to the hypothesis that the people had gradually destroyed their own island. Researchers predicted that the trees provided fuel wood, building material for houses and canoes, fruit to eat, fiber for clothing, and presumably logs to move the stone statues. Several anthropologists experimentally tested hypotheses by hiring groups of men to recreate the act of moving the statues from the quarries to the coastline. They used an abundant supply of tree trunks as rollers or sleds along with enormous quantities of rope. The only place to find the rope was from the fibrous inner bark of the Hauhau tree which is near extinction today.

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With the trees gone, rain would have eroded the soil away. This was confirmed by the data from the lake bottoms. With the erosion taking place the islander’s agricultural land would have lowered yields of bananas, sugar cane, and sweet potatoes leading to starvation and population decline. As a result of the anthropologists and researchers experiments they were able to come to the conclusion that the islanders turned against one another. Confirmation supports such circumstances of environmental deprivation and culture decline. Study of 6,500 bones has shown at least 31 species of birds nested on Easter Island and served as food source.

Today only one native bird species is left. Also as resources declined the islanders began keeping their main domesticated animals in fortresses with stone entrances designed to prevent theft. War fell upon the island and the proof was uncovered when the researchers unearthed weapons, skeletons, and skulls with head wounds. The entire world should be able to learn form the mistakes of the people of Easter Island. If we don’t preserve our environment by recycling, saving trees, and protecting land we will be forced to face the same doom as the islanders. Everyone want to urbanize their cities and towns but the community don’t take in account that if they cut down too many trees it can hurt the environment in more than one way. Natural resources are important and if we don’t protect them we may as well prepare for dooms day and only the strong will survive.

Goodreads. (2012, Fall). Quotes About Scientific Method. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/scientific-method Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. (2009). Essential Environment (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.

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