I was lucky enough to be brought up in the Golden Age of Blissful Ignorance, only occasionally followed by ‘oops’; where for a time even medical doctors smoked in their offices until – ‘oops’,
In 1972 the cost of gas was 36 cents a gallon; we all drove gas guzzling cars and no one had heard of climate change.
Now we are a mixed bag in terms of our level of ignorance – a fragmented society of: the not so ‘blissfully’ ignorant (in some cases wrong but angrily strong); the ideologically stubborn; the self serving (short term gain for the long term pain of everyone else); and so on.
I’m sure we feel that we are so much smarter than the Easter Island people who used up their only resource (trees) and either starved (or possibly left on a boat before the trees ran out). Building those large statues to the gods really didn’t help.
Things were simple on Easter Island: when the only resource you are dependent on is disappearing, it’s pretty clear that the good times are about to end (‘oops’). Even then/there, coming up with a sustainability option would have been difficult.: ’Hmm – x trees, y + z people – where y is the number of people we need for sustainability and z is the number of people we need to get rid of’; you can easily understand their dilemma.
We don’t know exactly what happened on Easter Island but we can imagine some possibilities. Likely some of the older people saw what was going to happen but knew they would be long gone when the shit hit the fan so decided to simply enjoy themselves (my category). Besides, they didn’t know what to do about it anyway.
Then there were the rich people who owned a lot of trees. They probably just built a few boats and left. Interestingly, with all the social ills in the world, three of the richest people on the planet have decided to spend their billions on space tourism. Is that a case of blissful ignorance or simply an attitude reminiscent of Nero (Nero plays his violin while Rome burns); or maybe they are planning on leaving the planet like the rich boaters from Easter Island – but where to?
Then there were the rest of the people on Easter Island. Without any solution in sight, they built large monuments to the gods but the gods either didn’t notice, didn’t care or didn’t exist.
On our big island in the cosmos (earth), things are not so obvious. The cause and effect is much more complicated and no one person is to blame. In reality, we don’t know what to do. We are just going along in the same way that we did during the Golden Age of Blissful Ignorance and putting up with all the unintended consequences as best we can.