A long time ago when Humans were just about to learn their existence on this earth, it became evident that, sooner rather than later, he is going to take over as the dominant species. What followed was an enthralling journey of survivals and discoveries. However, such a strong foothold required the sacrifice of many, and most of the time it was of the God-given nature. Easter Island was one of such great growing civilization that faced the wrath of the growing indigenous population.
The present is not a stark contrast to the situation thousands of years ago. Even though the recent awareness about its worth has brought some relief to the troubled island. Popularly it is now known as the Rapa Nui, it now inhabited by around 3000 people, who still suffer from the lack of diverse resources. Most of the surrounding and contained forest and wildlife diversity seem to have been restored but, the real threat lingers in limbo.
Easter Island was a subject of research for various excavators and geologists. The reason being that, it provided an important insight into the gradual progression of the strained human-nature relationship. The 1500-year-old island in such a way provides an important example that how a growing human population stresses the fauna and flora of the area and also leads to depletion of vital resources. This result is currently being observed in the current scenario of the earth. As we often say that history repeats itself, it is the ingenious property of nature that every debacle that hurts our beloved planet can be traced to a similar scenario in a much smaller ecosystem. Such an analogical insight was possible due to great research by anthropologists and scientists who used the fossils and hardened pollens to make such a bold conclusion. Though the real goal of the studies was to estimate the number of people, their diet, and their use of resources, no one would have thought what it would eventually lead to.
The Island has somewhat an ideal geo-location for such rapid development and growth of different species. Also, the resources present made the parallel existence easier. Easter Island lies about 3,700 km west of South America and 4,000 km from Tahiti. The Island is part of a cluster of Island in the neighbourhood but lacks essential resources such as inland water as compared to others. When Polynesian people first arrived here, it was a paradise. -Lush green forests and sparkling water and unparalleled peace. However as time passed on, the small group of settlers grew into a hamlet and then into towns. What resulted eventually is a complex network of mini-cities who were self-sustained. There would surely have been some smart people as hunting and foraging were replaced by honed skills like planning, construction and cooking. The world-famous Moai statues were then built with extreme labour and planning, indicating the sophistication and also the presence of a hierarchy in the decision-making system. Also, such Balanced diet and intelligence might have been the reason for their prominence. However, all these might not have solid proof and just the result of intensive studies conducted.
But soon something went wrong. What was once a robust society had diminished to just monumental statues made out of stone now known as the Moai. The deep crisis that ran through the island’s few km radius seemed to have remained oblivious to the outside world. When first Europeans arrived in 1792, they were shell-shocked as what remained was just a ghost island. However, there is a rational reasoning to what might have happened that led to such drastic consequences.
Initially, as there were abundant resources to cash in, People started using them more than required. The increase in the use of resources meant healthier and fitter individuals who took part in casual reproduction. This led to an unwanted population explosion, leaving the island with too much to provide for. Thus, it was obvious that they resources vault got depleted even faster to sustain the population. The exotic fauna and flora were pushed to extinction while the foreign ones brought by sailors were not able to cope with the pressure in the early growing stages. Finally, one thing led to another, and the result was a swollen population with just part of the actual resources.
Such destruction was unknown to mankind at that time, and hence, the settlers had no idea what such exertion might eventually lead to. The fact that Easter Island was secluded from the other hardly helped the cause. As the situation worsened, trees and plants were targeted to an extent that the people had no wood to build boats or homes. People were forced to shift to caves, as soils erosion led to the failure of the agricultural system. It was a gradual process, though; slowly leading towards complete depletion took more than 1000 years. As resources grew scarcer, wars between the villages became common, as did slavery, and perhaps even cannibalism.
Easter Island is small, but its story is a dark one that suggests what can happen when people use up the resources of an isolated area. However, that some aspects of the above history of Easter Island have recently been challenged. It is said that people did arrive later than predicted i.e. around 800 years ago. Such data suggested that the process was much faster and hence scenario might have been worse. When the Europeans first arrived the population was very less, but the surroundings had already showed some sign of recovery. The first sight of a Spanish Explorer was description similar to that of the Easter Island that it was before the catastrophe.
Easter Island is not only an example of how the resources we have will eventually be over but also that the negligent attitude of humans towards nature is not something of a new trend. As we develop a better understanding of Easter Island from scientific and social studies, it shows the bright side of the development of social and culture of humans. However, the primary point is that limited resources can support only a limited human population. Like Easter Island, our planet Earth is isolated in our solar system and the universe and has limited resources. As a result, the world’s growing population is facing the problem of how to conserve those resources. It is true that determining, the pace and the threshold of such problems are nearly impossible. Hence, it becomes important to plan our development and the usage of resources well so that we can live a sustained life and so do our future generations.