Welcome to the future! Spring is early this year, here in Washington DC, and the cherry blossoms are beautiful. And the ocean is only on the middle steps of the Capitol today. Should we panic? Or is climate change small change?
It’s up to you. As crises go, climate change is pretty serious. Cities will have to move, disasters will increase, and many people will panic. I like to choose my panics, and of all the things to panic about, climate change is fairly minor. Why?
Climate change represents accepting the idea that mankind has behaved in such a way to make the Earth warmer. We have pushed Mother Nature (Mom to those of us who love her and know her well), and she is pushing back.
However, upsetting her with respect to climate is only one of many things people do to push Mom. We pollute our air, land, water, and eventually our own bodies. We destroy species and upset ecosystems. We devour land for mining, farming, and living. These are just the easy ones off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s many more.
But there is one huge aspect in which we are pushing Mom that the newspapers never mention. You might see it in an occasional biology article, but the potential impact is underestimated. In biology, this force of Mom is called “selection.”
For the past few billions of years, Mom has selected animals for certain abilities; the greatest one of which is to reproduce. Make babies, and helping them live long enough to have babies of their own.
For the past few centuries, humans have learned to work together as a group, so that large families are no longer critical to survival. We have medicine and hospitals for maternity. We have schools and other support systems for toddlers. We have social security for seniors, even seniors who are so strongly against welfare. And we have oodles of technology available to replace a great deal of labor that was once relegated to child labor; things like washing dishes, cutting grass, and delivering newspapers.
Most recently, we now have an understanding of inheritance. We have diagnostic tests to determine embryonic health and fitness. We also have the ability to perform surgery on an embryo. We can even terminate an embryo for various reasons, with much less effort than ever before. But what does all this have to do with Mom?
We have upset the process of natural selection. Mom is no longer “in control.” We are. Or at least, we think we are. And that’s the real problem. For whenever mankind has the arrogance to think he has outsmarted Mom, she teaches him an extremely expensive lesson. The builders of the Titanic ocean liner thought they’d conquered Mom, and she proved them wrong. That was only a little boat. Now we’re betting our entire species against her.
Who would YOU bet on?