The Jared Diamond Myth in tatters

3 Aug 2010

Manchester University (at www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=5997 ) it seems is about to publish new research set to overthrow the 'environmentalist propaganda' disseminated by Jared Diamond in his book a few years ago, much loved by eco-campaigners and politicians as an example of how to rubbish your own backyard. We are of course talking about Easter Island, in the Pacific Ocean, home to Polynesians that are supposed to have chopped down all the trees, used up all the natural resources (in spite of being surrounded by a huge ocean and possessing extraordinary navigational skills), and generally blighted their own backyard to the extent they were almost extinct by the time westerner reached the place. Here is the clue - westerners as in posh tourist type westerners who arrived after the whalers, the get rich quick people after making a buck, and the less squeamish members of European society. Of course, the idea of humans soiling their own backyard was really a yardstick in which to beat the rest of humanity - not to soil the planet, adopt green measures, and especially cut carbon emissions (and human population numbers). Well, that was the famous claim made by Jared Diamond - and faithfully parroted by all good green activists and sympathisers. Everyone else knows it isn't true but until now there has been no serious research to lampoon the claims - which also made a quick buck we might bear in mind. The research will produce a paper - but not a book. Therefore it is not aimed at making the best sellers, but never the less it shows that the Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island were a thriving community until European ships began visiting the place. They were economically successful and produced a surplus of foodstuffs with which they willingly traded with passing ships - but that was their downfall. Diseases were introduced which over a period of time reduced the population, and somewhat  later, islanders were rounded up to work on sugar plantations on other islands (virtually as slaves). By 1877 there was just 110 survivors.