Some years ago while hob-nobbin’ with my colleagues in NL, we had a discussion on belief systems, especially where the influence of religion was/is concerned as applied to systems collapsing. The mechanism of competitive emulation was at the crux of the discussion.

In determining motivations, archaeologists describe the interaction process of competitive emulation, as one where polities compete by displaying wealth and power as symbols of deterrence. Thereupon, more developed systems absorb or influences a less developed one due to cultural (er religious in this context), technological or economic influences.

Look at the ‘story’, case of Easter Island, the persistent underlying causes of human population growth and subsequent increase of human per capita energy and material consumption exacerbated changes in the energy flux density. There was probably an increase in pastoral practices as populations at that time sought to live in more mountainous regions. And with this increased activity, due to the grazing of livestock, the environment degraded. These conquests consequentially had an affect on proximate causes probably including the loss of habitat due to the human-induced over-harvesting of trees/forests, and the subsequent competition of competitive and invasive species. Essentially, Easter Island deteriorated, because it became devoid of trees/forests, erosion of soil ensued, habitats proceeded faster that then pace of natural regeneration due to the tinkering of anthropogenic needs, whereby the humans became extinct and the civilization collapsed.

Opportunities, knowledge, and experience due to diminished genetic diversity were lost/abandoned. Putting it more simply, without trees, the land died, and so did the inhabitants. It has become apparent that there was (probably) failure to reconcile evidence of the ensuing environmental destruction in a timely fashion to preserve ecosystems, probably because of (religious?) belief systems and requisite socio-political/cultural pressures to conform to the belief systems. Hubris of the humanities?

Indeed, today human-induced GHG exacerbations have affected climatology and probably contributed to escalation in (human) ‘undesirables’ like hurricane Katrina, for example.

Um, I am amazed by our short attention spans how little we pay attention to history and fail to learn from prior mistakes. Oh yeah, I f’got the 4 S’s — we’re slovenly, selfish, satiated and stoopid. And now I have a fifth S to offer–short-sighted.