Re: Civilization and Evolution

Ken Comer (
7 Aug 1996 10:38:12 -0500

C. Marc Wagner -- Unix Systems Specialist <> purportedly
transmitted the following to thousands of machines throughout the entire
civilized world, purportedly costing the net hundreds if not thousands of
dollars to send everywhere:

>Turbo17930 wrote:
>> "Civilization", as commonly understood, is a negative evolutionary trait.

Heh. As it is "commonly understood," is a poor point of departure. Too
bad you didn't define, but guessing from your context, I'll guess that
you meant "advancement in social arts and statecraft" or "societies
which are advanced in social arts and statecraft."

Modern societies which could be regarded as "civilizations" are a very
*new* thing. There's no society which could rightly be referred to as a
civilization (in the above terms) more than 20,000 years ago. In terms
of evolutionary time scales, this is somewhere between 'blink' and 'sneeze.'

>> Specifically, I mean that the modern world of man is a recessionary
>> biological
>> trait, and will eventually result in Man's disappearance from earth.

This could well be the case. It should also be noted that the Sun is
considered a variable G-class star, and the solar system has a number of
worldlets which could potentially impact the Earth in the next 20,000
years. Assuming that H. Sap. still treads the Earth by then, technology
which would likely never come into being without large numbers of people
working more-or-less together is likely to be the only hope for
preventing humankind from going the way of the dinosaurs. Thus, it
could be that civilization will be considered the ultimate saving trait
of H. Sap.
>It seems to me that it is less a matter of civilization and more a matter of
>OVERPOPULATION. The Human Race is an extremely successful species. Some might
>argue too successful. The use of resources is directly related to how many of
>us there are. The fact that we USE technology is not the problem. The fact
>that we MISUSE technology is.

I agree that the planet is overpopulated. No offense, but would you
mind expiring and returning your chemicals to the soil? (Well, me
either. I've had *my* vasectomy, though-- have you?)

>If the Human Race is to avoid the mass
>extinctions that have plagued other overly successful species in the past, we
>are going to have to learn to manage our resources better.

We should emulate, for example, the resource-management techniques of
the cockroach? Or are they overly successful yet?

Humankind was doing quite well without electricity for thousands of
years. There is plenty of water, plenty of air, and plenty of land.
Human societies of the distant future may be much more technologically
primitive because of poor resource management, but are unlikely to go
extinct with that as the principal cause.

Even if we wipe out the rain forests (bad idea), that is not likely to
cause H. Sap. to quit making H. Sap.'s.

the spiegel

Ken Comer | | aka spiegel