By Merle Hertzler
Years ago a group of Polynesians sailed to one of the most remote places on earth, Easter Island. Here they found a fertile island far from any other land and started a prosperous society. They developed the technology to create and erect giant statutes. But their actions would lead to the eventual collapse of their civilization. They cut down every tree on the island, and found themselves without wood for fuel or for houses. Without trees, most of their food sources disppeared. There were no more fruits or nuts to eat, nor more birds, and no more canoes couild be built for fishing in the ocean. Faced with starvation, it appears that the people turned on each other. Most of the 15,000 people on the Island died, and those that remained found themselves in primitive conditions compared to the great society that had been able to build such massive statues years earlier.
were they thinking when they cut down that last tree? We don't know. But we know that
the people sealed their own doom.
Similar stories have happened at other places. In the book Collapse Jared Diamond examine societies that have experienced collapse, and looks at the causes. He finds five factors involved in most of these collapses. They are:
- Damage to the environment.
- Climate change.
- Hostile neighbors.
- Decreased support by friendly neighbors.
- Poor resonses by socieity to its problems.
Diamond warns that a similar fate could await modern nations and even the global community unless we act wisely. Diamond calls us to seriously consider what we are doing to our world. He warns of the following environmental problems:
- Loss of natural habitats such as forests, wetlands, and reefs.
- Decline of wild food sources such as fish and shrimp.
- Loss of many species.
- Soil erosion.
- Energy shortages.
- Water shortages.
- Limits on amount of food the earth can produce.
- Chemical releases and pollution.
- Introduction of alien species to other areas.
- Global warming.
- Population growth.
- Increasing envronmental impact per person due to rising living standards.
Think about it. You and I may not be alive to see the results of our environmental actions, but what about our children and grandchildren? Many of us invest considerable time and energy into seeing that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy a good life. But what if our children find themselves in a desolate world? Should we not address these problems before we seal their doom?
All thinking people should listen to Diamond's warning. This is the only world we have. Let us make the most of it. Let us work together to protect the earth's resources, and to provide the best for humanity for many generations to come.
(Click here to see more about the book)