The Pacific Islands, particularly the Polynesian islands, provide excellent model systems for understanding the human dimensions of global change. This is due to their uniquely microcosmic aspect. Little worlds unto themselves, islands are natural history's best shot at something approaching the controlled experiment. The human choices that have led to particular outcomes on these islands teach us that nothing is inevitable or predetermined. The more we understand how our predecessors fashioned the earth we have inherited, the better we may be able to achieve a "sustainable" relationship with our planet, our own little microcosm within the cosmos.
American Anthropologist is the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. The journal advances the Association's mission through publishing articles that add to, integrate, synthesize, and interpret anthropological knowledge; commentaries and essays on issues of importance to the discipline; and reviews of books, films, sound recordings, and exhibits.