The Rapa Nui usually carved the heads out of huge boulders in quarries, but apparently they didn't just want a quarry full of stone heads. They wanted stone heads that stared imposingly over their rose gardens. After beating their protesting common sense into submission, they decided that apparently the only reliable way to move something that weighed over a hundred tons was to cut down trees and roll the cumbersome things along atop the felled logs. With each new statue completed, down came another chunk of forest until -- after almost 1000 statues were made -- there was literally no tree left alive.
When the forest was gone, the soil eroded and a devastating game of dominoes took over that eventually reduced the Rapa Nui to cannibalism, and inevitable eradication.
Think about that. At some point, a guy actually looked upon the last tree in existence, and made the conscious decision to cut that bastard down. What was he thinking? That surely there were more trees elsewhere on the island? That they would all grow back?
Actually, it just looked silly standing there by itself.
But of course, we know what he was thinking; we still see it today. "Environment? Sure, I care about the environment. I'll be happy to discuss that with you after I cut down this here tree." The big picture is just an abstract idea; you need the tree now. It's so hard for humans to connect the two.
And so the islanders' mortal obsession with long faces, big chins, and little hats made of rock is now forever on display... so that dudes in loud shirts can take pictures of themselves wackily humping the grim stone mouths of heads more famous than the entire society they murdered.
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