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Department
Anatomy and Cell Biology
Course
Anatomy and Cell Biology 3309
Professor
Martin Kavaliers
Semester
Winter

Description
Rapa Nui Easter IslandEuropean explorers reached the island in 1722 and found less than 2000 people living in a marginal existence cave The island had gigantic statues of carved stone which is evidence that a sophisticated civilization had once lived there This island lacked trees but earlier in history it didnt Scientists determined that the island was once prosperous supporting a society of 6000 to 30 000 people This society exceeded their carrying capacity by overusing resources and cutting down trees Scientists used many ways to determine the islands fate John Flenley a british scientist excavated sediments from the bottoms of the islands volcanic crater lakes examining ancient grains of pollen to reconstruct changes in vegetation over time They discovered that when Polynesians first arrived at the island it was covered with palm tree related to the tall thicktrunked Chilean wine palm these palms would provide fuelwood building material canoes fruit fibre and logs to move stone statues Scientists believed that the people used hauhau tree inner bark as a source for rope on the island species almost extinct today750 CE Tree populations began to decline while ferns and grasses became more common 950 CE Trees were largely gone 1400 CE Pollen levels plummeted indicating a dearth of vegetationThis same sequence occurred two centuries later at two other sites more remote from village areas Evidence now supports the hypothesis that people gradually declined the island The soil had now eroded away with the trees gone and sediment accumulated in Rapa Nuis lakes This led to faster run off water which led to less fresh water for drinking Erosion had then degraded agricultural lands lowering the crop yields and led to starvation and population decline The people of Rapa Nui had also eaten 6 species of land birds and 25 species of seabirds No native land birds exist today and only 1 species of seabird is left ornithologist David Steadman showed this A lot of the diet of the Polynesians of this island was fish The decline in the diet of fish was coined to the thought that the islanders did not have enough trees to build the great doublecanoes their ancestors used for fishing Europeans visiting in the 18th century observed only a few old small canoes and flimsy rafts made of reedsOnce these diets lowered the chicken domesticated food animal became valuable Archaeologists found that chickens were kept in fortresses designed to prevent theft The islands then fell into clan warfare volcanic rock unearthed weapons and skeletons with head wounds showed this This can relate to Malthus because what Malthus predicted happened here But Rapa Nui was isolated so there are fewer options to solve our problems But a good question is could the fate of Rapa Nui foreshadow the fate of the globe and can be a reminder of our vulnerability Studies claim that we should rethink Easter Islands ecological catastrophe due to a 2007 study which states rats might have caused the destruction BUT another study in 2009 put forth because of the 2007 one finalizes that people and not rats were the dominant destroyers of the palm woodland on Rapa NuiLecture 1Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field it requires more than 1 field eg poly sci geology chem demography ethicsetc Environmental science explores interactions between humans and the physical and biological world Also Environmental science is hypothesizing how things work It is not environmentalism advocating points of view There are several types of economies today An economy is a social system that converts resources into goods material commodities manufactured for and bought by individuals and businesses and services work done for others as a form of businessSubsistence Economy Meet most of their daily needs directly from nature and do not purchase or trade for most of lifes necessitiesCapitalist market economy Buyers and sellers interact to determine which goods and services to produce how much to produce and how these should be produced and distributedcapitalist economies are often contrasted with state socialist economies or centrally planned economies which government determines in a topdown manner how to allocate resources In reality all capitalist economies are hybrid systems mixed economies Modern economies In modern economies governments intervene for several reasons1Eliminate unfair advantages held by monopoly buyers or sellers2Provide social services national defence medical care education3Provide safety nets For the older adults unemployed those with chronic illnesses or disabilities victims of natural disasters so on4Manage commonly owned resources the commons5Mitigate pollution and other types of environmental damageThe environment and economies are intricately linked Economies receive inputs resources from the environments and process them in ways that allows society to function and then they discharge outputs of waste from this process into the environment Economies are open systems integrated with the Earth environment which is a closed system Even though these interactions are apparent there is schools of thought that ignore the environment and view the world as an infinite supply of resources and a limitless waste output station This is the Classical Economic Model Neoclassical Economic Model below This model focuses on processes of production and consumption between households and businesses This model views the environment only as a factor of production that enables the production of goods Neoclassical economics assumptions1Resources are infinite and substitutable2Longterm effects should be discounted meaning future catastrophes because to these guys they dont give a shitalso defensive expenditures future defence programs eg pollution abatement have no current value and are worthless 3Costs and benefits are internal externalities are not taken into accountthis means that externalities other things affected from the transaction between a buyer and seller are not given recognition from effects that might occur from the trade Eg pollution from a company affects the population and the population pays for the cleansing of the pollution via taxes The company gains through the trade it makes though and disregards the externalities in this case the community aThere can be positive and negative externalities Positive is when someone not in the trade benefits and negativeexternal cost is a cost borne by someone not involved in the transaction Negative externalities will benefit private gain while harming societies 4Growth is good In this sense economic growth is required to keep employment high and maintain social order Economists measure economic robustness of a nation by calculating the Gross Domestic Product GDPThe GDP is the total monetary value of final goods and services produced in a country each year Its a very powerful number BUT it does leave out important values These nonmarket values and economic activity that are desirable are not included This means that GDP can increase even if we are hurting our society or environment EgAn oil spill occurs which destroys the environment BUT we need to pay to fix it Spending money for cleanups results in an increase in the production of goods and services These activities generate income and are reflected by a positive GDP change but the negative health and ecological costs of disasters are not reflected in the GDP Unless they generate jobs or transactions they are unaccounted for For this reason economists have tried to create alternative indicators that differentiate between desirable and undesirable economic activity Such indicator is the genuine progress indicator GPI
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