Parachuting live cats into Borneo

if you’ve ever asked yourself, “now, why is it that we don’t want to use DEET?” then this is for you. i had no idea exactly HOW bad it is. i knew it was bad, but this is ridiculous.

parachuting live cats into Borneo


Remember Easter Island

I’m not sure if i had ever heard the story of easter island before, but i recently read a (very) short history in my environmental science book. it goes something like this:

easter island

Polynesians came to the 69.1 sq. mile island about 2,900 years ago bringing their dogs, pigs, chickens, stowaway rats, taro root, yams, bananas, and sugarcane. they found a paradise with fertile soil, dense and diverse forests, and lush grasses. they developed their civilization around 2 of the island’s major trees: giant palms and basswoods.

they used the trees for everything: boats, fire, hunting weaponry, shelter, even using the fibers to make ropes. life was good, right? the population increased, peaking around 1400 with between 6,000-20,000 people. (keep in mind this is a very small island, and not in a group of islands either.)

the problem arose when, in the middle of all these people living la vida loca, they started using the islands resources faster than they could be replenished. a process knows as environmental degradation. when the people realized they were in trouble, they tried to appease their gods by erecting about 300 huge, stone statues. it is theorized that they were placed 0n large wooden platforms made from the tallest trees left on the island. to even get the stones to their permanent location, they had to use 50-60 logs to get there!

by 1600, there were no large trees left on the island and only a few small trees. without large trees they could not build canoes. thus they could not hunt. nor could they leave. they were isolated in the south pacific ocean, starving. now that the trees were gone the few remaining springs and streams dried up, the once fertile soil eroded, and crops failed. there was no wood for fire and cooking. the islanders ate all the birds, rats, and dogs on the island. clans fought with each other over the last few resources left on the island until the population dwindled and the islanders hunted and ate one another. grim.

dutch explorers reached the island on easter sunday, 1722, about 1,000 years after the first Polynesians reached the island. they found about 2,000, hungry people, living in caves.

we can use this analogy with earth. like the people of easter island, we are isolated on this planet. we have no other planets to inhabit and moon colonization is not very realistic, although one hell of a vacation. i’m just saying we should protect and cherish this planet, it’s the only one we have. sustainability is a hot topic right now, as it should be.

(the history of easter island used here was adapted from Environmental Science, 11th ed., Miller, G. Tyler 2006)