EESC 230 Post #1 – trading then globalization now

The discussion topic this week that interested me the most was how technology and dependence on other areas can sometimes do more harm than good. This was explained really well in Chapter 3 of Collapse when Diamond discussed the Polynesian Islands of Mangareva, Pitcairn, and Henderson. Diamond described how each island had its own unique thing that made it important, and what would eventually establish it in a trade group between the three islands. Mangareva was capable of having a large population with a heavy resource of basalt and the black-lipped pearl oysters, both of which were good for making tools. Mangareva lacked quality stone on its island which is a reason as to why they started to trade with the other islands, specifically Pitcairn, who had an abundance of stone as well as large trees that could be used to make canoes (furthering the trade between the islands). Pitcairn was a tiny island, only capable of sustaining ~100 people, so it traded with the other islands as well, including Henderson. Henderson Island was the largest island and thus had the space to have an abundance of crops as well as being able to sustain a good sized population. Trade between these three islands became the norm and eventually the islands found themselves relying on each other for a bulk of what they needed to live. Due to its high latitude, Mangareva eventually fell due to deforestation. The collapse of Mangareva was detrimental to not only its inhabitants but to the people of the other two islands as well. Pitcairn and Henderson depended heavily on trade between their two islands but between Mangareva. Trade essentially ceased between the other two islands once Mangareva collapsed due to the heavy dependence between all three. Once trade stopped, the other two islands managed to collapse as well, with erosion being a major problem on Henderson and Pitcairn’s lack of sustainable land being its problem. The fall of Mangareva and the subsequent collapses of Henderson and Pitcairn can be directly related to the negative impacts of technology growth as well as increasing dependence, or what could be looked at as a start of globalization. These islands relied too heavily on their technology growth instead of learning how to live a sustainable life on each of their islands. The stories of these islands can be somewhat of a negative metaphor for today since the world is becoming increasingly more globalized as the days go by. Diamond brought this point up in Chapter 3 saying these “examples of collapses triggered by the breakdown of an environmentally damaged trade partner [are a] preview of risks already developing today in association with modern globalization” (page 121). Diamond is essentially discussing that the world could possibly be too dependent on each other and that, much like with these ancient collapses, if one major link in the chain of globalized trading were to fall, then perhaps other major nations involved would fall too. This can somewhat be compared to the domino theory that was often discussed in politics during the cold war, meaning that if one nation were to fall (due to environmental degradation rather than to communism) then others would immediately follow suit. I’m not too sure if this would be an immediate collapse but there is definitely something to be said about how dependent most countries have become on others in regards to trade. It will be interesting to see if globalization becomes an even bigger phenomenon in the future or if people will attempt to be able to live sustainable lives, ones that would attempt to rely less on outside resources. The picture below shows a McDonalds in an Arab country. This can contribute to “McDonaldization” or the ever growing presence of American Corporations in foreign countries, an offset of the more common globalization.

“McDonaldization” of the Arab World
-Sarah Campbell
Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.

9 thoughts on “EESC 230 Post #1 – trading then globalization now

  1. Sarah C. says:

    I think in today’s time if some nations were to collapse, particularly developed countries, then we would be able to sustain ourselves for a little longer than the civilizations in the past could have. The reason for this could be due to the fact that we simply have more knowledge about sustainability now than they did then. I think the most negative impacts would come from being overly dependent on importing goods since that seems to be a present problem. To combat this we could turn to increased education on sustainability or even making sure those in power within these developed countries, and even the developing, could know and understand what could happen if we don’t start to change at least one thing.

  2. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    Keep in mind that you don’t need to overrely on technology to overrely on trade. Each one has its own environmental impacts. We could domestically be self-reliant in the manufacturing of our technology products, or we could be dependent on importing basic goods.

  3. saydijoy says:

    Trade is so significant and vital to societies, yet the damage of over production seems to be pushed aside. This is an amazing perspective and the mcdonalization was an wonderful way to illustrate. Definitely a post worth reading!

  4. kmorgan4 says:

    I am wondering what your thoughts are about how long we would be able to last once things starting collapsing. I know we do rely a lot on trade with other countries, but at one point we did produce our own products, so do you think that if our connection with China, just as an example, would highly effect our society immediately, or could we sustain ourselves for a while?

  5. hsomers says:

    That was a really interesting perspective! I was also really intrigued by the triple Islands because of their interdependence but never thought to relate their interactions to the interactions of our world on an international scale. It seems so obvious now and a little terrifying. This reminds me of a video we watched in my Environmental Economics class that talks about glaciers in Asia that normally supply China and other parts of Asia with water for irrigation. Those glaciers are melting due to climate change and if they melt past the point of repair those areas in Asia will be left without irrigation to grow crops. Areas like China will have to then rely on imports to feed their growing population which can be a huge problem caused by the interdependence of all of the players in the global food market. You make a really good point that that kind of interdependence could be our downfall like it was with the Triplet Islands.

  6. mslocum says:

    This is a very interesting and complex point. The idea really shows how the study of environmental problems is not an isolated topic, but requires understanding of many concepts. Regarding globalization and dependence, economists and international relations scholars will have to communicate with environmental scientists to create a sustainable future.

  7. Savannah says:

    Very informative post, Sarah! I never truly realized how each country would be affected if one of the other trading partners from another were to just suddenly collapse. I honestly cannot even imagine how detrimental that would be for the US. I love when you state “the stories of these islands can be somewhat of a negative metaphor for today since the world is becoming increasingly more globalized as the days go by.” This statement confirms that we need to learn to rely less on outside resources as well as sustaining our own for future generations.

  8. lukedanielschneider says:

    This is a large issue that I have not put much consideration into until reading Diamond. An immense amount of our goods are produced overseas and then imported. If we were to lose just one of our major trading partners to a collapse, I really cannot begin to imagine how that would affect us all.

  9. TaiTai says:

    That was fantastic to read, people in this class take note. I just learned so much like Sarah 11/10 this is how you do a college education.

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