Wednesday, 17 July 2013
The Lessons of Easter Island
I am in the middle of participating in a three-day training workshop giving me skills to be a trainer in relation to sustainability thinking and processes. We have been focusing not just on sustainability in relation to the environment but also on social and economic sustainability. An extraordinary activity which we completed yesterday focused on Easter Island. I cannot locate an electronic copy of the document we read, but the ideas in http://www.mnforsustain.org/ponting_c_the_lessons_of_easter_island.htm are similar. Further reading of http://suite101.com/article/environmental-sustainability-have-we-learnt-from-easter-island-a309320 is also relevant and interesting. If our earth is simply a larger version of Easter Island, what does this say about you and me and what we are doing currently? Would there have been people on Easter Island foreseeing the consequences of the destruction they made, just as there are people currently pointing out the consequences we are making to the whole globe as we clear forests? The changes we need are profound. I wonder what was the tipping point on Easter Island. What was that point of no return? And therefore, what is the point of no return for the Earth? Have we passed it? As usual, everything I write about must have a connection to French Polynesia which I will be visiting later this year. So where does Easter Island fit in this story? Has the concept of sustainability reached French Polynesia? In my research about the places I might visit in the Marquesas Islands, I came across reference to tiki which apparently have aspects in common with the great stone statues on Easter Island This is a moai from Easter Island. One website assures me that "six of the inhabited Marquesas Islands offer vast examples of tikis". "Tikis are believed to represent deified ancestors." On the island of Fatu Hiva, "one of these rocks which the villagers call Tana, looks identical to an Easter Island moai figure." Here is an example from http://www.barracudamagazine.com This is a tiki from Marquesas Islands. So there you have a connection - cultural similarities in terms of the artefacts both peoples made, despite the thousands of miles separating each. In addition, some websites tell me that the Marquesan people settled Easter Island. More research is still required. Are there any knowledgeable experts reading this who can tell the facts? As for the question about sustainability and French Polynesia, I am pleased to see Earth Check is looking at the situation (refer http://www.earthcheck.org/news/french-polynesia%E2%80%99s-environmental-sustainability-is-in-good-hands.aspx) in relation to environmental aspects and tourism. But of course, any action will impact on the social and economic situation. The three prongs of environment, social and economy are inseparable because any change to one has consequences for one or both of the other. There are many other sites that address sustainability and the future of various aspects of French Polynesia, such as in association with the pearling and clam fishing industries. Hmmm. Well I have heard how Americans love their clam chowder. I wonder how clams are cooked/eaten in different parts of French Polynesia. I look forward to finding out.