The Waning Of Human Evolution.
"A male lobster’s bladder is located in it’s head - When 2 males fight, they squirt each other in the face with urine... "
Our culture is what defines us. It has supplanted nature to become our nature. Though have we reached a limit? Has evolution halted for our species? Or does evolution signal more than rudimentary (a simplification there, it could never be simplistic in real terms) than a biological process now we have reached and established the civilisation that we have?
Sir David Attenborough recently remarked that our species has effectively removed ourselves from Natural Selection. The moment that we can successfully rear over 99% of our young is the watershed of special struggle and adaptation. Which, of course, is intrinsic to Natural Selection (I think his view is too narrow however, do more than 99% of the offspring born to people in the Developing World survive? Or is this merely a Western statistic?) Furthermore, he went on to add that our species has entered a cultural evolution phase. An era that is expanding rapidly. He also warned that things are going to get worse in terms of resources and space, in view of a burgeoning human population.
It is on this so-called "Cultural Evolution" that I wish to focus my attention on here, widening what could be considered a narrow view on evolution. Perhaps there is more to evolution than favourable adaptations to species and varieties in what Darwin termed "The Struggle for Life?" Humanity has seen a species (unique to this planet at least) develop a civilisation beyond that of the need for mating, feeding etc. There is one stage in which our species is still progressing, and this is in terms of our own synergy with technology. Is this where classical evolution ceases and a new, synthetic model picks up the baton?
I have already mentioned Ray Kurzweil and his 6 Epoch stage approach to human evolution. I elaborate by addressing the civilisation "types" framework, known as The Kardashev Scale:
In the link below, Theoretical Physicist, Michio Kaku articulates this hypothesis:
We are classified right now as a "Type 0 Civilisation." We still rely on plants, fossil fuel and such to survive. But the traditional Kardashev Scale begins at "Type 1." What are the characteristics of this civilisation? Harnessing the energy of your entire planet itself. Clues pertaining to Type 1 development are evident in the world now, the internet, the English Language, the European Union, all hallmarks signalling further progress to a more enlightened time. Are we a Type 0.5 Civilisation?
All these ruminations on Natural Selection recently, especially voiced by one of the most eminent Naturalists, eerily coincide with my own musings on the subjects within the last week. My thoughts postulated the possibility of our readiness for further advancement. As apes, we still desire possessions which place us in a position of authority over our peers. We yearn for money, status, sexual and physical prowess, everything an animal still desires, all surfeit symbols representative of being a successful animal, driving by the urge to advance their genes. Culture and capitalism has replaced the deadly locking of horns of the stag, clashes of lions for the paws of the Pride. Now, a footballer with the most bling is Alpha and women have to order their beauty accordingly at the behest of some capricious idyll that changes more frequently than the wind.
All the while, the large mass of the populace remains ignorant to the big questions in life. Most would be unable to relate the many wonders of the universe (macrocosmically and microcosmically). Most are too swamped by the minutiae of a life and the ennui of wishing for more, base functions associated with the beta pack of mass civilisation, to know that there exists more beyond this. That evolution perpetuates beyond our sphere and permeates a far more larger and smaller existence than we know. Though as still base animals, we remain largely ignorant to this.
Perhaps this is the limitation of physiological evolution? It functions on a peer-to-peer floral and faunal level, is cultural and technological evolution a rewiring (sic) of that function? We can only look to the future and wait...
© Brad James, 2014.