I think it would be safe to say that, to most Americans, the United States is the most powerful and successful nation on the planet. However, I also think there is a largely overlooked problem, one that could potentially push our country to a point of collapsing. We rely too heavily on imports from foreign countries. Despite all our power, all our success, and all our wealth, there is one resource that we just can’t get enough of: oil. A parallel can therefore be drawn between the U.S. and the Middle East, and ancient Pitcairn and Mangareva Islands.
While we have our own domestic oil fields, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, almost 30% of our nation’s oil comes from either OPEC or Persian Gulf countries (see the pie chart below). Just as Pitcairn Islanders relied on trade and import from Mangareva for crucial resources otherwise scarce on their own island, so too does the United States rely on the Middle East for a lot of our oil. If the Middle East collapses (and it very well might), we will be left very handicapped.
I do not think that the outcome for the U.S. would be exactly the same as it was for Pitcairn. While the Pitcairn Islanders eventually perished, I think Americans would just suffer from a drastically lower standard of living. For one thing, the U.S. has advantages that Pitcairn did not. For example, the United States has sources of domestic oil. While we may require oil for many things, we can still survive without it; Pitcairn Island on the other hand lacked sufficient food and other materials necessary for basic survival. Also, the U.S. has its large size in its favor. Our country’s size means we have a wide variety of available resources located within our borders. Pitcairn was so isolated and small that this was a luxury it lacked.
In conclusion, I believe that the U.S. could very well have a similar problem to Pitcairn’s, but the consequences will not be the same.