Sunday, April 26, 2009

Easter Island at a global scale

The current issue of Scientific American discusses the consequences of current global population impact upon water consumption and the food chain supply. As happened on Easter Island, overconsumption resulted in social devastation, ecological collapse and the final, poignant array of bleak volcanic faces gazing out to the ocean.

The article discusses the impact of trend-driven climate change on global commerce, as well as the likelihood of many failed states that could pull down the global network. We've begun to see this in Somalia and Zimbabwe as these states disintegrate under the weight of population, failure of government structures and lack of sustainable policies.

One answer to this among many is a carbon tax, which would provide incentives for capitalism to manage the carbon cycle. Thomas Friedman makes an example of Costa Rica, and its strategies to maintain its ecosystem while providing revenue to local businesses and residents. Beyond taxing the carbon process are the opportunities to derive profit from the "deconstruct" side of business and manufacturing - recycle, reuse and remake, while producing oxygen and water instead of toxic byproducts. There is more profit in this model than there is in fighting to keep the primitive industrial processes and supply chains.