Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Those who adapt
It's not survival of the fittest, but survival of the most adaptable. Plants, animals or people, the same rules apply.
Scientists say that species are dying out at a rate 1000 times the historical level. I'm not sure how they so confidently arrive at such a number, but let's say it's not far off the mark. The one thing about science is that it's possible to check the numbers. I do not have the time or resources to do that so I'll assume that it's been peer reviewed and is a valid assumption.
Where does that all end up? It ends up with a much less diverse world. It's a world of weeds, cockroaches, rats and crows. The generalists survive. Creatures with tight food or habitat requirements disappear.
That's the natural world, but what about people? We are part of the natural world and not exempt from the same challenges. People in general are amazing survivors. Our diets are varied. We inhabit diverse environments. Survival is built into our genes. Unlike other creatures, we develop tools and cultures to better our adaption.
That's great for the species, but what about the individual? Humans can pretty much survive anything thrown at them, but sometimes with massive losses. Sometimes we stick with tools and cultures that no longer work. The Vikings died out in Greenland when the climate turned colder. At the same time Inuit peoples were thriving under the same conditions. It's not that the Vikings lacked toughness, but for some reason they were unwilling to adapt.
Here's the thing about humans. Sometimes our big brains can work against us. We let our beliefs about how the world should be blind us to the way the world really is. The world doesn't care about our values, culture, morality, ethics or how really really special we are. If we are dumb enough to ignore the changes around us, nature will smack us down.