Heinberg’s first axiom of sustainability
1) Add some information in the form of a citation that supports, expands, and/or improves upon the argument made by your peer. Be sure to clarify how this information adds to your peer’s argument.
2) The introduction of rats to Easter Island, whether it was intentional to use the rats as a food source or unintentional, with rats stowed away on visiting boats, was the most serious violation of Heinberg’s axioms of sustainability. This axiom states that sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions. (1) In this case, it was not a substance that was harmful to biosphere functions, but rather an invasive species.
3) Without the rats’ introduction, it is possible the Rapa Hui may have recovered their numbers by way of reforestation. It’s unlikely, but possible. With the rats being present eating the seeds of potential palm trees, they effectively destroyed any possibility of turning things around for the inhabitants of the island. (2) Further, the rats competed with humans for other food as well, eating chickens that the islanders had previously used as their source of protein. Some research points to the rats being purposely introduced as a food source along with chickens. (5)
4) Heinberg’s third axiom of sustainability tells us that renewable resources must be consumed at a rate that is less than or equal to rate of replenishment. (1) Trees are a renewable resource. Trees were cut down faster than they could grow and replace themselves. Once rats arrived on the island, they ate coconuts and the trees could not grow. Islanders had already greatly reduced the trees for fuel, burning the wood. The statues they constructed had to be moved on rollers made of tree trunks, and other areas were deforested to make room for crops. The rats were just the final factor that nearly eliminated the palms. (3)
5) Heinberg’s first axiom of sustainability states that if a society uses critical resources in an unsustainable way, that society will collapse. (1) The statues (moai) were chiseled from stone for ceremonial purposes. It’s not known why so many statues were constructed or why they had to be placed about the island, but the process required a lot of trees and manpower. As there were not enough trees being planted to replace those cut down, the consumption of the trees was unsustainable. Erosion due to deforestation was inevitable, and the soil wasn’t great to begin with, which lead to reduced crop yields. (5)
6) Heinberg’s second axiom of sustainability holds that population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained. (1) The Rapa Hui didn’t experience exponential growth of population, but the effects of the rats and deforestation for agriculture and statue construction limited the number of humans the island was able to support.
7) As for Heinberg’s fourth axiom stating that nonrewable resources must be consumed at a declining rate, the Rapa Hui did not really consume nonrenewable resources such as fossil fuel, so this isn’t applicable. (1)…………………
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