Thursday, 22 September 2011

Easter Island

I'm currently (re)reading Jared Diamond's book, "Collapse".

The two main chapters in the book go into considerable detail about modern Montana, and the Norse settlement of Greenland a millenia ago.

Diamond also devotes a considerable portion of the book to Easter Island - One of the most isolated societies in the world, and one that collapsed because of a number of reasons. Jared Diamond lists it's isolation, the people's destruction of their resource base, the relative fragility of Easter's ecosystem because of it's geographical location, and the guns, germs, and steel of visiting Europeans.

And that isolation is profound. This is what Easter looks like from 20 miles up.

You need to zoom out to over 2,000 miles above the earth before you see another inhabited bit of land - Pitcairn, 1,200 miles to the west.

Mark Lynas, a journalist with a keen interest in climate, ecology, environment etc, posted a summary of a book that claimed to debunk Diamond's work on his blog.

Now, a few days later, Jared Diamond has taken the time to respond, and Lynas has published his response in full, here:

Lynas is critical of bad science, regardless of source. He's been critical of groups like Greenpeace in the past, rather than trying to force the facts to fit an agenda. He tends to act as a collator of research. His book, Six Degrees is a drawing together of thousands of research documents, and this mini "debate" about the work of two different researchers, Diamond on one side, Hunt and Lipo on the other, comes as no surprise.

Interesting stuff for sure.

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