For years people around the world, swayed mostly by Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, have thought Easter Island—2,300 miles west of the coast of Chile—suffered a population crash because its people used up its resources (chiefly palm trees) faster than they could be renewed. I haven’t known what to think, but, though I knew of its inaccuracies on some other subjects, I assumed Diamond’s story was likely.
Now my friend Dennis Avery has educated me. The real causes of Easter Island’s collapse were quite different—and multiple. And they had nothing to do with consuming resources faster than they were renewed. They had everything to do, instead, with (entirely natural) climate changes—especially cooling, which brought with it drought—and oppression by Peruvians, who essentially kidnapped and enslaved a large proportion of the Easter Island male population and worked it to death in inhumane conditions.
The story is both tragic and enlightening. You can read it here.
Featured Image By TravelingOtter (Moai at Rano Raraku – Easter Island) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons