Tragically, as Annalee recognizes, the benefits of such innovations will be spread unequally. Those in affluent, developed nations are more likely to see the kind of safe, green cities that Annalee describes, while people elsewhere will suffer. The promise of geoengineering raises the same dilemma.
Scientists and engineers are trying to come up with solutions to global climate change, ocean acidification, and other problems that are global in scale. Given the experimental nature of programs — such as creating more cloud cover to partly block the sun while also trying to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — no one really knows what such endeavors would do in this country or that as weather and climate patterns changed.
We do not live on a homogenous planet, and alterations that benefit one part of the globe might devastate another. Many of the possible solutions Annalee discusses are still in the realm of science fiction, or, at least, speculative science beyond the reach of what we can presently achieve.
Will we live in a Star Trek like existence, strange yet still familiar? More likely, humanity one million years hence — if we ever get that far — will be something far stranger than we can imagine today. The challenge that faces us, Annalee demonstrates, is how to pair new ideas and innovations with what already exists. The world of tomorrow is going to be built on top of and around the world we know.
Early pre-programming of genes
In the end, survival will mean stretching our perceptions of what is natural. Even restoring damaged habitats requires human intervention and stewardship — places of we think of as wild still bear our distinctive fingerprints. Or there might be another drug that produced a permanent state of contentment in the recipient—after all alcohol does something like this already, though it has other disadvantages and is only temporary in its effects. Fancher, R. American Psychologist. Gillham, N. Sir Francis Galton and the Birth of Eugenics.
Annual Review of Genetics. Galton, D. Francis Galton: And eugenics today. Journal of Medical Ethics. Galton, F.
Essays in eugenics. The History of hereditarian thought ; Harper, P. A life of Sir Francis Galton. From African exploration to the birth of eugenics. Human Genetics. Magnello, M. Bulmer, M. Francis Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry. Journal of Heredity.
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This is often seen in large mammals. Other animals are indifferent to whether most of their young die, as long as enough survive. Insects have lots of young and only a few survive.
Even so, it ensures the survival of the species. If we look at human beings and try to predict how we will look in the future, the same considerations apply. Take two couples. One couple are strong, tall and beautiful with all the attributes for managing well in life.
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The other couple are weak, short and ugly, and experience lots of adversity in life, but survive anyway. One might think that strong, tall and beautiful people are the motor of evolution, but that is not the case. Assume that the strong couple have two children, who each have two children, who each have two children etc And the weak couple has three children, who each have three children, etc Four generations on, the strong family will comprise 16 people, while the weak family will comprise 81 people.
Over time the strong family will disappear since they are a small group and thus more vulnerable to catastrophes and diseases, while the weak family survives. Evolution has moved in the direction of the weak, short and ugly. Another important factor is the time when we have children.
Carbon dioxide levels highest in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation
If the strong couple first have children when they are 30, while the weak couple first have children when they are 20, the population changes even faster, and over a very short period of time there will be many more weak people in the population. It is to do with how many children you have. The interesting thing about human beings is that they are not necessarily controlled by biology. It is very much the culture that controls how many children we have," says Mailund.
Evolution means having lots of offspring. Only some of the offspring survive hunger, cold, diseases and predators.
The survivors are then genetically better suited to the environment and will pass on to their own offspring the advantageous hereditary features. Charles Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest only applies if the fittest also have the most offspring. In terms of evolution, man does not resemble any other animal on the planet. We are not influenced by purely biological mechanisms when it comes to how many children we have. If we look at the hunter-gatherer society and the early peasant society in prehistoric times, we can see how human beings affected their own evolution.
The peasant society outmatched the hunter-gatherer society, not because of biological advantages, but because of their approach to technology. Peasants grew their own crops which gave them access to more food than the hunters, so they could feed more children. It was also less practical in the hunter-gatherer society to have many children because people were constantly moving around. One can say that the mechanisms are the same as in other animals, but with the added effect of culture," says Mailund. It is culture that makes it difficult to predict how human beings will look in the future.
Our cultural ability to share knowledge with our offspring is part of the reason why natural evolution is no longer the driving force. Take a stone axe for example. The knowledge of how to make one can be passed from parents to children, who therefore do not have to develop a gene over several thousands of years which enables them to develop a stone axe themselves.
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