Biology - Other

Is the Human Race Evolving or Devolving – Devolving

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"Is the Human Race Evolving or Devolving - Devolving"
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An interesting debate.

There is no doubt that the human race has progressed at near light speed over the last one hundred and fifty years. Medical science has advanced so that we live longer on average than ever before. Our infant mortality rates have plummeted and once fatal diseases are now able to be cured. People with horrific injuries survive because of the amazing skills of our medical professionals.

We have access to a dazzling array of technological comforts that our grandparents would never have even imagined. Our high tech world provides us with the latest information in seconds, we can connect with people across the globe and the latest piece of whizz-bangery, namely CERN's Large Hadron Collider will possibly soon afford us a glimpse of the very essence of matter. In short, our current society is one where almost anything you could want is available and we live in an age of comfort that is unparalleled in human history. One could say that we are a pretty clever bunch and be smug about it.

Not so fast.

It is our very rapid progression though that renders us most vulnerable. The entire fabric of society would unravel with something as simple as cutting of our electricity. We need only look as far as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to understand what would happen. The strong would collect and prey on the weak, the survival instinct kicks in and all traces of humanity are rapidly eroded. We are so used to being able to zip down to the grocery store that we would be unable to sustain ourselves beyond a couple of weeks. Knock out the power and we would be back to candles, cooking on an open fire and, after the fuel has run out and our bicycle tyres are irreparable, reduced to getting around on foot.

Two to three weeks without power and our progress would be reduced to nought. Anarchy would ensue as our population has concentrated in large cities without ready access to fresh food or clean water other than what is freighted in or piped in from elsewhere. Once the grocery stores are emptied, what then? Mass exodus from the cities and we are long past our days of being able to survive out in the wild. Add modern days weapons into the mix and I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that people would soon enough begin to kill for food. And this is the kind of thing we were doing when we were first emerging out of our caves at the end of the last Ice Age.

The other are where we fall down is that the rapid rate of technological growth sees us as a more insular society than ever before. In the cities, we often no longer know who our neighbours are. We might be able to log into a chat room and have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world, but do not go to the bit of effort to poke our head over the fence or knock on the door next door to offer a simple "G'day" and find out a little about the people who live around us.

I do believe that we survive and advance as the human race by our collective recognition and achievements. A group has a better chance of surviving, and thereby evolving, if we look out for and learn from one another. Back in those cave hopping days, the discovery of the usefulness of fire and being able to create it without relying on the random nature of lightning strikes was a key part of the evolutionary stepping stone. Even more so, agriculture, which enabled groups of people to settle in one area and create sustainable communities, without the need to forage for food over wide-ranging areas. Both also provided people with time to focus their minds on things other than the mere survival of the species.

We might have bigger brains and can calculate Pi to thousands of places, but growing our own food from existing plant stock, domestic farming practices and basic medical care are beyond the reaches of the average person. It would really be a question of survival of the fittest - or those best armed and willing to be ruthless.

More about this author: Jimmy Nightingale

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