Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Darwin on decarbonisation

Watching a documentary about Darwin last night, I was left pondering whether there are parallels to be drawn between his theory of evolution and the need to adapt to the challenges of decarbonisation. Darwin was prone to look for parallels in unrelated areas such as economics, so it's perhaps not so big a stretch as it might be. Maybe the ability of human beings to thrive and prosper in the coming decades will be determined by their ability to adapt to low-carbon living. Those physically adapted to walking and cycling, reading in lower lux conditions etc. would be favoured by natural selection and could evolve to become the humans of tomorrow.

In most animal populations, a group which grows beyond the capacity of its habitat to sustain it tends to fall prey to a drastic reductions in numbers, as competition for food and water weeds out those who are less robust. Sometimes the response is more dramatic, like the mass suicide of lemmings. And indeed, some are preducting that food and energy wars will be the inevitable outcome of the unbridled expansion of the human race.

Darwin, whilst a devoted husband and father, never forgot that he and his family were just mammals, and that their behaviour followed the same immutable laws that apply in the rest of nature. Something we would all do well to remember as we respond to the twin challenges of population growth and climate change.

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