A Reaction To Clive Ponting’S A Green History Of The WorldA Green History of the World has been very educational reading and has given me a new prospective on the environment. While I do disagree with some of Clive Pointing’s views I have learned a lot from his work. A Green History of the World was a very in-depth look at the past and the future of our environment. Pointing raised my consciousness regarding the trials we face as inhabitants of this great planet and left me with some food for thought.
After reading Chapter One I found myself entranced by the mystery of Easter Island and excited about the information A Green History of the World had to offer. I had virtually no understanding of Easter Island nor could I remember every being exposed to it in school or any extracurricular reading. This chapter allowed me to become more open-minded to Pointing’s writings without giving up my own personal ideology and gave me an understanding of Pointing’s ideas about the environment. I was also able to explore Easter Island in further detail.
Many thoughts ran through my mind speculating about the people of Easter Island, and this left me with several unanswered questions. What really happened there? What factual discoveries do we have to support the theories surrounding Easter Island? What other Easter Island theories exist? Do people still live there? Have they been able to reclaim any environmental nourishment for the land? Are plants and animals able to survive there today? What happened to the statues built by the native Easter Islanders? Where is Easter Island geographically located? How difficult is it to visit the island to day? I likely came up with more questions than answers, but I craved any knowledge I could find about this cabalistic place. So with modern technology at our finger tips, I searched the Internet for information on Easter Island, and I was quite surprised to find that it has its own web page.
The Easter Island Home Page is full of fascinating information regarding everything from the discovery of Easter Island to modern day life on the island. Though there are many theories about Easter Island, in my opinion no one really knows exactly what happened there. It seems to me that the more factual data we discovered the more questions we create. I found it interesting that in a recent archeological discovery they found that porpoises made up a large portion of the early inhabitants’ diet, which means that they would have had to have had some sort of ?sea worthy? vessel in which to hunt this animal. Remembering that when Easter Island was discovered the only boats that were found were three small canoes (that were not sea worthy), they must have been previously equipped with lager boats in order to hunt the porpoises. Another theory that I found particularly entertaining was that extraterrestrial beings inhabited the island and were responsible for the statues and their placement. Though I do not agree with all of the theories that I read, I am still intrigued by Easter Island and after looking at the pictures of the Island on the Internet I would like to travel there in the future. Easter Island is located off the coast of Chile and it cost approximately $800.00 to fly there round trip from Chile, but what an experience it would be.
Throughout the book I found myself wandering why Pointing placed infuses on things like giant rodents that had been hunted into extension (Pointing, 35). If these giant rodents existed today we would probably be trying to get rid of them, so whose to say that the first humans did not do us a favor. While I am positive that the hunting done by the first humans caused us to lose large populations of majestic animals, the first humans had to provide food, shelter, and clothing for themselves. What if the first humans had not hunted or ?raped the earth of its bounty. They would have likely starved to death and then we would be the ones that were extinct. In my opinion God made humans the head of the food chain, and gave us the superior knowledge and ability to provide for ourselves. While it is unfortunate that the weaker species risk extension, if given the choice I believe that any human would choose his or her own life over that of an animal, and would realize the need to kill that animal in order to survive.
Pointing used several quotations throughout the book that help to shine a light on the mood of differing beliefs and views during certain time periods. One quote that would probably be see as the exception to popular opinion of the time, was made by a Jewish thinker Maimonides. He said ?It should not be believed that all other beings exist for the sake of the existence of man. On the contrary, all other beings, too have been intended for their own sakes, and not for the sake of something else.? (Pointing, 145) I think that Maimonides has a point, though man would also be intended for his own sake in which case he will need to provide for himself. Pointing also notes a quotation from the Chief Seattle of the Squamish native American tribe who wrote to the President of the United States the following: ?…The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.? (Pointing, 153) Man may be merely a strand in the web of the world, but is man any different from any other strand that would have to hunt another strand for survival of its own.
Pointing also illustrates ideas about the over population of the world, and the misuse of natural resources. He makes note of the wealthy wasting resources in coherence with the comfortable style of living they have become a custom to, while we have people starving in third world countries that would kill for the food we give our live stalk. I assume he is generally referring to the American lifestyle in these judgmental statements. I openly acknowledge that Americans including myself are overwhelmingly wasteful, but we have also made great compromises with the environment so that we can live in harmony one with another. American corporations are strictly mandated to comply with environmental laws. Farmers are educated about the nutritional values of the land and how to replenish them. If you take a close look as you drive down any highway in Southeastern Georgia you will come across green signs placed on large fields of trees, that read ?We grow jobs.? Union Camp claims that they plant more trees than the cut down each year. With all of this, the question still remains are we doing everything possible to ensure that we save the ecosystem? I do not think we could even dream of claiming that at this point, but we have advanced so much in the past fifty years and the future of the environment looks pretty bright to me. We are always learning of new ways that each individual can make a difference in the environment, and we as a group are striving to become a more environmentally conscious society.
In reference to Pointing’s remarks about the over population of the world, I feel that he is a bit of an alarmist. Pointing discuss the history of population control and states that it has generally been ineffective. He also thinks that until we change our way of thinking and attitudes towards what I see as one of our basic human rights, we will continue to over populate the earth until it can no longer support us. This is so frustrating to me and even sounds illogical. Why should we save the environment and focus our time and money on making this world a better place to live, if we have no heirs to inherit it. I understand that we should not bring more children into the world than we are capable of supporting, but do not think we are truly endanger of reaching maximum capacity. If you take a look at China a country that is considered to be largely over populated, they have instituted strict law to limit the number of children allowed per family. This seems to have created a society that dreads the birth of female children, to the point where they are willing to kill a female infant in hopes that they maybe blessed with a male infant the next time around. In this instance we become no greater than an animal without a conscience. Perhaps we need to be more conscience of population growth, but we should not compromise ourselves or the right of other in the process.
While I found Clive Pointing’s views of the environment and its history and future to be interesting, I think that they are opinions and can and should be argued. This book contained so many theories about the future and examples of the past it is almost impossible to touch on everything that I felt was important. This book allowed me to open my eyes and experience what the future might be like if we do not consider the past. I do not think that we are looking at an ?Easter Island Syndrome? for lack of better term, though the Easter Islanders did not see the devastating environmental effects that their misuse of resources until it was too late to do anything about it.
In summary, I found A green History of the World to be a stimulating book, and I would love to compare this book with one of contrasting opinions. As a conservative thinker you might imagine that I was not thrilled about this reading assignment. A book entitled A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations, I had many preconceived notions regarding its contents. The thought of being forced to read what I prejudged as the typical environmentalist’s argument regarding the state of the world, angered me. After I finished the book I found that I agreed with Pointing more than I ever would have expected. He make some very strong arguments and creates a vivid image of what might become of the world if we do not do something to prevent its destruction. I hope that as a society we can step back and take a look at these ongoing processes, and determine if we are doing everything within our power to leave earth with as few scars as possible.
Easter Island Home Page @ www.netaxs.com (This Internet site contains the research of several authors regarding Easter Island along with other connections to Easter Island.