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HUMAN EFFECTS UPON EVOLUTIONARY PROCESSES IN THE BIOSPHERE. John Cairns, Jr. University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology Emeritus Department of Biological Sciences Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, U.S.A. April 2011.
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John Cairns, Jr.
University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology Emeritus
Department of Biological Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, U.S.A.
. . . WHEN WE REGARD EVERY PRODUCTION OF NATURE AS ONE WHICH HAS HAD A HISTORY; WHEN WE CONTEMPLATE EVERY COMPLEX STRUCTURE AND INSTINCT AS THE SUMMING UP OF MANY CONTRIVANCES, EACH USEFUL TO THE POSSESSOR. . . HOW FAR MORE INTERESTING, I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE, WILL THE STUDY OF NATURAL HISTORY BECOME!CHARLES DARWIN, On the Origin of Species, 1859
EXTINCTION IS A CONTINUAL PROCESS IN THE BIOSPHERE; HOWEVER, AT GREAT INTERVALS, A MASS EXTINCTION OCCURS AND NEW SPECIES REPLACE MOST OF THE SPECIES THAT MADE UP THE DAMAGED BIOSPHERE.
GLOBAL PROBLEMS CAN ONLY BE SUCCESSFULLY SOLVED BY A CIVIL DISCOURSE ON AND A COMMITMENT TO A COMMON GOAL BY ALL, OR A SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITY OF, THE WORLD’S SOVEREIGN NATIONS.
NO SOVEREIGN NATION SHOULD ASSUME THAT ITS NATIONAL VALUES ARE SUPERIOR TO THOSE OF OTHER NATIONS SUCH CLAIMS DO NOT LEAD TO A PATH OF RESOLVING GLOBAL CRISES.
*A cultural unit, such as an idea, value, or pattern of behavior, that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means.7.
RAPID SOCIAL EVOLUTION, WHICH FOCUSES ON BEHAVIORAL OR CULTURAL TRAITS, SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY HOPE FOR HUMANKIND TO RESOLVE THE DANGEROUS GLOBAL CRISES IT NOW FACES.
IF THE PRESENT BIOSPHERE COLLAPSES, THE MOST FIT SPECIES INITIALLY WILL PROBABLY BE SMALL, SHORT-LIVED, HIGHLY FERTILE ORGANISMS WITH SUPERB DISPERSAL ABILITIES TO EXPAND INTO A VARIETY OF HABITATS AND ABLE TO USE A WIDE VARIETY OF RESOURCES.
Acknowledgments: I am indebted to Darla Donald for transcribing the handwritten first draft of this Power Point and for preparing it for publication. References1Hansen, J. 2010. Deep doo-doo: a conversation with Bill McKibben. Grist 22Dec http://www.grist.org/article/2010-12-21-a-conversation-with-bill- mckibben.2Union of Concerned Scientists. 1992. World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. Cambridge, MA.3Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Living Beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-Being. Statement of the MA Board. http://www.maweb.org/en/BoardStatement.aspx.4Letter. 2010. Climate change and the integrity of science. Science 328(5979):689-690.5Simon, J. 1998. The Ultimate Resource 2. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.6Bartlett, A. 1998. The new flat earth society. http://www.hubbertpeak.com/bartlett/flatearth.htm.7Rees, W. 2010. What’s blocking sustainability? Human nature, cognition and denial. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 6(2):1-13.8Cairns, J., Jr. 2010. Threats to the biosphere: eight interactive global crises. Journal of Cosmology 8:1906-1915.