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Climate change and evolution.

A few weeks ago, I saw a Nova episode about how there's strong evidence that humanity's ancestors were forced out of the trees and onto the plains by climate change. About how we owe a climate changing over a geological timescale (thousands of years) to our evolution.

Now I look at how the climate is changing again, within a single human lifetime, and I'm not worried for humanity. We're adaptable enough to survive. Millions may die, and civilization may collapse, but we will survive. Life won't look the same, but we will survive.

Still, it makes me wonder if we'll evolve again in response to it, or if civilization's collapse will let things go back to normal.

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
baron_waste
Aug. 9th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)

Well, both, if you favor the eugenics argument that technology arrests evolution by allowing the unfit to survive and pass on their debilitating hereditary characteristics and diseases.

Which, to my mind, doesn't explain diabetics. Sure, in the absence of insulin supplies they'd sicken and die, but diabetes is hereditary, so why are there any diabetics at all? Surely they'd have all died out tens of thousands of years ago, unless it's so recessive that it could carry across a thousand generations, in which case the collapse of civilization won't eradicate it anyway!

fayanora
Aug. 9th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Not all diabetics need insulin. Hell, insulin is a recent invention, but science has known about diabetes since 1550 BCE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetes_mellitus#History
erauqs
Aug. 9th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Perhaps climate change will do what nothing else seems to have done, unify humanity as a whole. Still, the collateral damage to the rest of the planet, especially to our cosmic savings account (oil reserves) may prevent a united humanity from escaping our dying planet.
fayanora
Aug. 9th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)
Life is too adaptable and resilient to die so easily. This planet won't die until the sun swallows it. Humans, on the other hand, may go extinct in a millenia or so.
erauqs
Aug. 11th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
Oh we agree, just the part of us that thinks "What if life only evolved on this planet?" thinks it a damn shame if the tools life developed for getting off the planet (humans) ruined the ability of such a unique phenomenon to spread throughout the multiverse.

Of course, we also think that our universe has "rules" that self-select for the creation and evolution of life from "inorganic matter" and if so, we find it highly unlikely that life only evolved on this little rock. But what if?

Plus, species survival instincts. *shrug* We consider ourselves part of humanity and would prefer that humans manage to grow to explore the vastness of space and other realities.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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