John R. McNeill
A Synoptic Environmental History
of the Island Pacific
The Pacific and its islands have long held allure for romantics and scientists alike. The ocean's great size and galaxies of islands make it as appealing to botanists and biogeographers as to beachcombers. It also has seductive charms for those interested in environmental history, in the changing mutual influence of human communities and the earth, air, water, and life forms that sustain them. Recently, two books have appeared that emphasize the relevance of the environmental history of Easter Island to that of Planet Earth. 1 But Easter Island, like most Pacific islands -- indeed, most islands anywhere -- has had a tumultuous environmental history. Evolution and history have conspired to give island people especially unstable environments.
The island world of the Pacific shows the transforming
From Journal of World History 5, no. 2 ( Fall 1994): 299-341. Copyright © 1994, University of Hawaii Press. Reprinted by permission.