Friday, March 28, 2008

The Last Palm Tree

Author Jared Diamond, among others, has wondered, "What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say?" A new discovery may one day help us to answer that question. Scientists at the University of New North Wales have cracked the code of the Rongorongo writing system. Today they released the translation of a text, which they say dates from shortly before the last tree was felled. Your Cap'n is pleased to bring you this text in its entirety:

RANO RARAKU - Chiefs from a number of outer-valley communities blasted Paramount Chief Parumapuka's "Demand Pricing" program, which would charge chiefs for every moai that they take from the quarry during peak periods. The goods paid would be dedicated to "mass moai" that require significantly less wood to transport and erect.

"This is a regressive tax," complained Nau Nau Chief Porotoki. "It will hit the poor and middle-wealth villages hardest, while the richest villages will still be able to erect all the moai they want." Chief Veperinu from Hangaroa said that enforcing existing laws is all that is necessary to eliminate the shortage of trees.

Chiefs from Hangaroa said that the most unfair part of the proposal was the plan to allow chiefs from the west coast, who already pay a charge to transport moai, to deduct that charge from their payment. "This plan does nothing to discourage chiefs from the west coast from obtaining moai," said an angry Chief Karik'a. "It is unfair to the other villages."

Members of the Campaign for Easter Island's Future said that the island may be past the point of Peak Logging, that the current system is unsustainable, and that enforcement of existing laws would not do enough to curb deforestation. "If the Council of Chiefs doesn't pass Demand Pricing, we could lose the rest of our trees in just a few years," warned petroglyph carver Aru Nasaparatek'a. "It would be an absolute disaster if we lost all our trees."

Chief Rup'itara from Oroi, however, encouraged concerned villagers to support his Nine Pukau Plan, which highlighted the development of alternative technologies. "We need to force the issue of metal moai transport technology. Why wouldn't reforestationists support this issue? We need to do it now." Skeptics argued that metal technology was not advanced enough to transport moai, and wouldn't be for many years.


Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Awesome job. I really like the references to real people like Mr. Nasaparateka

Cap'n Transit said...

Thanks, Pan! Reading Collapse and following the congestion pricing debate at the same time has definitely given me an interesting perspective.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I think more folks should read that book. It definitely makes me at least feel like the US could possibly itself collapse if we are not careful. Obviously at this moment we aren't being careful.