Lost Civilizations

February 2, 2013

The past weeks of class we’ve dived into the major problems that have caused the collapse of early civilizations. The first case study we learned about was the fall of the pioneer society on Easter Island. In this example, and like most other lost civilizations, beginning success and a huge growth in production led to overpopulation. Resources, such as trees, fertile soil, and fresh water, were depleted because more and more people needed to be fed. The people believed that the solution to this was to create more and more giant stone statues for the Gods. Before they knew it, all of the resources were completely gone and social upheaval caused a more exacerbated collapse.

We then learned about the five major causes of environmental problems. They are population growth, unsustainable resource use, poverty, excluding environmental costs from market prices, and trying to manage nature without knowing enough about it. I can’t help but imagine if this sort of collapse of our modern societies is inevitable because of the giant spike in population we’ve seen within the last century. I would like to think we have advanced enough to prevent this from happening, but with global climate change and natural resource depletion upon us, it’s not completely ludicrous to see collapse coming our way. Hopefully, we come together and prevent this from happening before it’s too late and eventually prevent the same fate of the Easter Islanders from happening to us.

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