Tag Archives: evolution

Resilience

Our news cycles are a constant drumbeat of alleged omens of doom.  Ebola, climate change, wars, earthquakes, urban decay and dying honeybees are only a few of dangers we face supposedly that will lead to our destruction or extinction.  I have some good news.  Homo sapiens is a tough dude.  You think things are rough in our era of the early 21st century then you have no appreciation of the history of Man.  The facts are that we have created many dangers to our existence over the millenia and Mother Nature has thrown the kitchen sink out us many times and yet here we are.

If you think ISIS is a terrible danger to our future then remember our ancestors managed to survive one way or another the Huns and Vandals destruction of the Roman Empire and what everyone would have defined as civilization at that time.   The Great Plague of the 14th century wiped out anywhere from a fourth to a third of the population and left a devastated countryside.   Many understandably believed that was the End Days of earth.   But again we trudged forward.  Each generation of Man without fail concludes that it is the most important of all ages and that if it fails significantly that all Mankind will tumble….such is vanity, all is vanity.

Was it  50 million or 100 million killed in the 20th century wars? But all was rebuilt and now we argue over the desserts on the table rather than the basic foodstuffs to sustain survival.  despite the predictions of a Sartre or Bertrand Russel or Rachel Carson even more of us are here and living better, far better than anytime in recorded history.

Even if the worst predictions of climate change are accurate if will not be something that our progeny won’t be able to handle and survive.  The coastlines have receded and waxed for a long time and our ancestors managed all those geographical difficulties; that is a truism or you and I wouldn’t be here today having a debate about climate.  In historical perspective it was only a blink of the eye when we had our last Ice Age.  Can you try to imagine what that did to our ancestors?  The seas retreated dramatically.  You could walk from Britain to the Continent on dry land.
The Ice sheets reached down to the Loire valley and to modern Manhattan and formed the Great Lakes.  All those folks dependent on the seas for mussels and other sustenance had to relocate and then in another joke of Mother Nature everything reversed and the waters of the seas rose again dramatically and what was inland become coastline again.  They had only primitive tools and their brains to survive such upheavals and yet they did.  There were no canals, bulldozers, cranes and computer projections to aid them or any type of machine tools.

Next time you see some thugs on TV trying to demonstrate their toughness and give those intimidating stares do remember that they pale in resilience and courage to all our ancestors.   Those past gene donors  over the history of Man were the true tough guys.  They figured it out whatever the challenge, improvised and fought tyranny in the end for us to enjoy the fruits of this century.  The shame is to not live up to their same standard with the determination to control our own destiny whatever the circumstances of fate put in our way.

“Theirs but to do or die”  Tennyson….www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

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Knuckle Draggers Or Genuises?

Old homo sapiens is quite the masterpiece of Mother Nature when you reflect upon it. The first life was a simple single cell organism without even a rudimentary nervous system. To think that it literally took hundreds of millions of years for those simple life forms to evolve into more complex life like a sponge or coral is a true wonder. Almost all life that has ever existed on Mother Earth merely responded to stimuli. It lacked the capacity to think. It existed and was capable of reproduction. Thankfully that reproduction did occur or we probably wouldn’t be here today.

When life had finally evolved enough to have a real nervous system it still was so primitive compared to the human mind. A lizard or bird only lives in the moment. It responds and follows instincts that are the base line for survival of the species. Most of us think of our own survival as the most basic of human instincts but that is not true. All life has at its core the instinct to have the species survive even at the risk of self. There are many examples of this trait in nature. Lots of animals will take courses of action that put their own lives at risk to save their young. Why would some female duck make noise and flap her wings when a predator approaches and move away from the young? She does that to make the predator come after her. She is driven to sacrifice even herself to save her species. She would say it that way because she doesn’t even have the capacity to think outside the moment she is in. That same example is replicated up and down the life forms from the highest and most sophisticated to the lowest forms today.

Over human history how many mothers have been willing and have indeed sacrificed themselves in the face of grave danger to protect their children? Yes, the instinct to survive and live is very strong but the inbred instinct to save and propagate our kind is even stronger. What is amazing is that we of all species that have ever lived have much more than mere instincts. We have a mind. We can project our thoughts beyond the moment. We can anticipate and plan; we discern cause and effect as opposed to responding to stimuli. Sometime in our history one of our ancestors began to have this capability.

One of kind first imaged some use for a stick or a rock. He envisioned a tool. That stick was used to dig for grubs, worms or knock eggs out of a next or to kill a bird or small mammal for food. That rock he picked up was used as a club or maybe a knife if it had a sharp edge. What is significant is that he imagined that stick or rock being something more than a stick or rock. That was a dramatic leap. I can’t begin to conjure up how they came to see that fire could be an element that would fashion tools or cook food, much less how they learned to make it from scratch. That was true genius at that time and place.

At least one reason we were able to develop a mind was that we had an internal control of our body temperature. That made us so much more adaptable to the environment in which we found ourselves. Even today we read about the lizards dying in Florida because of the cold. Being able to regulate body temperature is a great way to enhance the prospects for survival of any species. Even our fellow mammals don’t have a mind as we conceive one and they rarely can live beyond the moment they are living. Elephants, bears, dogs and the like don’t plan ahead. They also don’t have an opposable thumb to manipulate devices or tools. Even the smartest apes or monkeys can’t compare with our abilities. A monkey might use a stick to get at his grubs off the bark of a tree or knock down fruit from a tree but he would start all over every time and not fashion a stick to keep and improve upon.

That first stick that became a tool also was the first step in the establishment of capitalism. How you ask? Well, we our ancestors first made their spear, pry or club, it became theirs. The concept of ownership and private property was born. You made it, you owned it. When the first crude huts were fashioned or a cave was improved for living then the builder would be sure to have only those he approved allowed entry. It was his cave. Before tools there was nothing to own or possess. We think of them as primitives but they had the same seed of genius in them that we think we have today. If their had been a Noble prize then there would have been many worthy candidates.

With all the countries around the world including the US borrowing money at record amounts one has to wonder when all that public borrowing will crowd out the private market place for borrowed funds. There is only so much money as capital out there. (Ignoring for the moment the printing of inflated money by governments.) When those with the money decide to lend it they can loan to private industry or governments. The appetites of governments now is voracious. How will our economy revive if all the available capital is being poured into T bills and notes? http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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