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In a recent New York Times column, Nicholas Kristof misleads us about the awful history of Easter Island (2,300 miles west of Chile), whose vegetation disappeared in the cold drought of the Little Ice Age. In doing so, he blinds modern society to the abrupt, icy climate challenge that lies in our own future.
Kristof repeats the archaeological myth that Easter Island’s natives committed “ecological suicide,” by cutting down all their palm trees. They supposedly used the logs as rollers to move their famous huge statues. Afterward, they could no longer build canoes to catch the fish that were their key protein source. Worse, he says, clearing the trees resulted in so much soil erosion that most of the population starved and/or killed each other in famine-driven desperation.
Myth - Impacts - Little - Ice - Age
This myth disguises the impacts of the Little Ice Age on Easter, and ignores the inevitable reality that our coming generations could relatively soon face another icy age that will harshly test our technologies. The cold centuries may even make man-made global warming look positively attractive!
Easter Islanders never cut their palm trees at all! According to their cultural legends, when the Polynesians’ canoes reached Easter about 1000 AD, the island was covered in grasses. There were only a few palms. Modern pollen studies confirm this, showing that the island did have palm trees in the ancient past – but most died in the cold droughts of the Dark Ages (600–950 AD). The few surviving palms died during the Little Ice Age after the Polynesians colonized the island. The last palm died about 1650.
Kristof - Power - Cold - Climate - Ice
Kristof seems not to understand the killing power of the cold, chaotic, carbon dioxide-starved climate in those “little ice ages.”
The islanders wouldn’t have used palm logs for canoes in any case. The Polynesians knew palm logs are far too heavy. Canoes...
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