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Evolution and Environmentalism

Steven Hales shales at pipeline.com
Thu Sep 4 13:38:15 EST 1997

Tracy Maurer wrote:
> man is no different than any other animal, from  a natural selection
> point of view, other than the fact that survivability traits are no
> longer being naturally selected for (ie, individuals that would normally
> die before being able to reproduce - or who would otherwise be unable to
> reproduce - now live and birth children with genetic defects, thanks to
> modern medicine).
> this is a relatively recent phenomenon, if you look at the entire
> history of our species - it's impossible to say just yet what the
> outcome will be, but we can hazard some guesses:
> 1. we'll become less and less resistant to disease
> 2. we'll accumulate more and more genetic defects

Gosh, it sounds like to solve this horrible problem you would institute
the eugenics of extreme century social darwinism.

> is intelligence a survivability trait? do people with higher iq's have
> more or less children than people with lower iq's? (fewer, by a sizable
> margin.) is economic status a survivability trait? do the wealthy have
> more or fewer children than the poor? (fewer, again by a sizable
> margin.)

In the long run intelligence is randomly distributed.  I don't believe
that the normal distribution for IQ has shifted to the left over time.

> we are also relying on fewer and fewer staple crops for the majority of
> our food: take away wheat, rice or potatoes due to disease or mold or
> insect/rodent predation and a sizable portion of the planet's human
> population will starve.

We are probably better prepared to solve crop failures due to disease,
mainly through genetic technology, than ever before in history

> so my take on the entire situation is that human beings are setting
> themselves up for extinction. mammals typically only have a 2 million
> year run. presto! we're there. and we're due for another ice age, too -
> as a proportion of its history, earth is usually mostly covered with
> ice. this relatively lengthy warm patch that allowed our entire species
> to flourish is not typical of earth's weather cycle - it's a glitch.
> to say our technology makes us immune to any of these factors is
> nonsense. what technology? developed by whom? who pays for it? where do
> the raw materials come from? who has access to it?

Problems, problems, problems...Human history has your answers.

> we are just one more cog in a machine that replaces its cogs with new
> ones pretty regularly. there is nothing whatsoever about us to suggest
> we are particularly well adapted to lasting longer than we already have.
> it's pretty cocky for a species less than 2 million years old to decalre
> itself grand master of creation. many dinosaurs lasted 30 times that
> long.

It's refreshing to see a budding neo-malthusian blathering their way
toward the formation of a philosophy of doom.  

World, behold, the next Malthus; stand aside Ehrlich, back away Meadows,
our next author of millennialist nonsense has arrived, I present Tracy

> dda

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