Easter Island was once home to Polynesians who carved large sculptures from volcanic rocks and moved them around the island. These statues called “moai” are huge and about 14 tons in weight. How they were moved and why they were moved around the island remains a mystery. The “moai” was created by the early Rapa Nui people. These are Polynesians who lived on Easter Island which is also called Rapa Nui. The early Rapa Nui people most likely created some of these statues as tributes to their gods and as artifacts. There are almost 1,000 of these huge statues situated around the Island.
For protection and conservation, in 1995, UNESCO announced Easter Island a World Heritage Site which means it is protected from invasion or other practices that may harm or damage the artifacts. A large part of the island is also protected within the Rapa Nui National Park. Easter Island is so fascinating because of the moai. We have little to no information concerning them and what they stand for making them a hot topic for discussion. The sheer amount of effort and talent that went into creating not 10 or 100 but 1,000 of these statues is what makes people so interested. We wonder what sort of civilization they might have had and more importantly why they left the Island after creating the moai. Research has shown that the moai may have been statues created of deceased heads of lineages and the reason why they are spread across the Island is that some of them were not fully transported to their actual intended location. Easter Island is a remote island in Chile so it is inevitable that it is facing the effects of climate change.
Climate change is a very important situation that is affecting the whole world yet it is not getting half the attention it should be. Easter Island is facing new challenges with climate change. Now, what effects of climate change is Easter Island facing? Studies have wondered why the early Rupa Nui people left Easter Island hundreds of years ago and some scholars have cited climate change as one of the reasons. Climate change may have led to droughts which then led to less food and famine and a population decline. Research conducted by Stenseth, Nils Chr and Voje, Kjetil in 2009 in their paper, “Climate change might have contributed to past cultural and societal changes.” proposes that the early Rapa Nui people had to vacate the island in search of greener pastures hence why they left so quickly and without moving the statues to other locations around Chile.
What Effects of Climate Change Is Easter Island Facing?
Unfortunately, the same thing seems to be happening in 2020. With the waters getting colder and the droughts getting longer. Easter Island is at risk once more. Residents are reporting record chilly temperatures in the waters, rapidly draining wetlands, and a freshwater reserve at risk. Soil loss as a result of erosion swells and the plastic waste being generated by the influx of tourists is putting Rapa Nui at risk. Local communities are aiming to put more sustainable tourist activities in place.
These tourist activities will uphold Rapa Nui traditions instead of simply turning the moai into ordinary items for spectators to gawk at. The new type of tourism will promote the culture, promote sustainability, and hopefully help curb the environmental dangers Rapa Nui is currently faced with.