During this week’s discussion we focused mainly on the collapse of Easter Island and ways the island is similar to the environmental issues found in the documentary, The 11th Hour. On Easter Island there was little to no civilization; the people weren’t advanced, not many crops or animals to survive but in the beginning they were able to make it work. Over time more people came therefore homes, crops, animals, statues (for religious purposes), needed to be built. On top of the need for more resources, there were also two different clans of people on the island in a continuous fight for power. This led to division and ultimately the collapse of Easter Island. When in class, we broke off in breakout rooms and discussed major points when their civilization started to deteriorate. As a group we decided that this happened due to the overall misuse of resources, added with deforestation, overpopulation, and internal warfare. These are issues that were discussed in the documentary; deforestation being one of the largest issues. What I contributed to the class was that, continuing to build isn’t intentional, yet it is harmful. The need for building is due to the continual growth of humanity. More people, more businesses/corporations, schools, religions, etc., the more we build up the community. If we continue with this pattern, no matter the reason, it eliminates trees and land leaving less room for nature, our very reason for being able to live. In the documentary, The 11th Hour discussed this as well. Based on the video, there is a separation of human and nature. Humans aren’t connected to nature, so there is the belief that what effects nature doesn’t affect us which is false. This imbalance is the cause to global warming, pollution, energy consumption, land exploitation, and food waste.
After discussing the topic of Easter Island in class, I learned a lot about us as a people. There were parallels between our people, Americans, and the Polynesians on the island: that parallel is Capitalism. We discussed throwaway culture which is the idea that overconsumption is normal, and products are disposable when they can and should be recycled. Although the Polynesians didn’t have an economy per se, they mimicked a capitalist nature. The Polynesians were divided by clans, the search for power, trade of crops and animals, competition between competitors, all of which is similar in America. They were overcompensating, reducing their resources, to try and achieve the unachievable. If we continue to with “throwaway culture” or capitalist ideologies we’ll run out of resources, we’ll be constantly trying build up an economy while it’s been torn down at the same time. We’re a country that thrives on exponential growth, but we don’t possess enough assets to provide for the constantly growing population. I believe as a country it’s important for us to take events such as Easter Island as an example of what can happen, what we can do to prevent such things from happening and prepare ourselves. The downfall of our country is not inevitable if we took nature just as serious as we take capitalism. In order to see change, we must be the change.