Destiny of Life
Jon M Wiley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
18 Jan 1995 22:18:06 GMT
The Destiny Of Life
Humanity as a Tool: An Expansion on the Gaia Hypothesis
by Jon M. Wiley
VIVO ERGO SUM
No one knows why, no one knows how, but 4 billion
years ago, life developed on the Earth. Earth was a harsh
environment 4 billion years back, comets and asteroids were
often plummeting to the surface, and toxic (to us) gases
erupted over the surface from within the bowels of the Earth.
After the development of life, only one thing about it was
completely constant... it grew. Life on Earth changed,
evolved, became extinct in part, but always expanded. Anything
which did not expand, no matter the species, soon became
extinct because those species which were growing were
absorbing the resources... and thus growing even more.
This competition for resources is the basis of
evolutionary change in lifeforms. Competition became the norm
for life on Earth because it was the standard for the earliest
life forms. Single celled species merely replicated
themselves, using up resources. If a nearby species did not
use them faster or more efficiently, they either moved or died.
Thus the race was on, survival of the fittest was (and
still is as I shall point out) the mark of evolutionary
processes in the biosphere. However, even if you do not favor
evolutionary theory, or this theory in particular, you cannot
deny the fact that the biosphere is constantly expanding, or
is constantly applying pressure to expand.
Indeed, that is a good way to define life, a
collection of processes which replicate themselves in order to
continue replicating themselves. Life has spread to every
crack and crevice on the planet.
This essay draws extensively from the Gaia Hypothesis.
This theory was envisioned by British biologist James Lovelock
in 1969 and expounded upon in a book by Lovelock and US
biologist Lynn Margulis entitled _Gaia: A New Look at Life on
Earth_ (1979). The hypothesis influenced numerous
environmental, biological, and ecological studies, but aroused
controversy over it's perceived nonscientific aspects.
Lovelock therefore modified it to be more in agreement with
homeostasis, now widely acclaimed in biology.
Essentially the Gaia Hypothesis holds that the
biosphere of the Earth functions as a single unit, and that it
regulates itself for the benefit of the unit and not for it's
parts. This is in accordance with homeostasis in that the
biosphere is very regulatory. If there are too many predators
and not enough prey, for example, starvation ensues.
Assuming that the Gaia Hypothesis is true and agreeing
that the biosphere does indeed bring pressure to bear for
expansion, one reaches the following conclusion: The goal
(destiny, process, nature, purpose) of the life is expansion
and the biosphere will regulate itself in a manner which
only serves to support this goal. This theory has rather
baffling conclusions; the biosphere, under these assumptions,
would regulate every factor within it's power in order to
achieve expansion, from predator prey relationships, to
extinctions, to climate, to evolution itself.
Realize I am not implying any consciousness extant
within the biosphere unit (which was one of the aspects of the
original hypothesis), I do not see any evidence for that. Self
regulation of the system is a product of natural laws, as is
the process of expansion. The process of regulation to achieve
the state of expansion which the biosphere undergoes is
subject only to natural law.
Why does life expand? It expands to survive. The
survival of the biosphere is paramount to all other processes.
If life forms were to stay in one area, they would run a much
higher risk of being eliminated completely by several random
factors such as famine, disease, or natural disasters.
Instead, life spreads itself about. The more area life covers,
the less it is prone to being completely obliterated. Some
species do indeed become extinct, but this is generally due to
the biosphere regulating itself. If a species does not play
it's part in the natural processes which develop the entire
system, or the species has completed it's term of usefulness
the biosphere takes measures to elliminate it. This is somewhat
analogous to a human having an appendix removed.
Many natural processes, including survival, apply not
only to the biosphere as a whole, but often to it's parts as
well. Mankind is no exception to this rule. In fact, the self
regulatory processes which apply to the whole biosphere also
apply to humans on an individual level. The biosphere is
fractal in nature, every part is representative of the whole.
Homeostasis is one of the founding principles of biology, and
it has been observed time and again in the function of
multitudes of species, including humans. Thus, by observing
processes within large scale structures such as the biosphere,
we can observe properties within ourselves.
Following this line of thought, it is natural to infer
that humans operate on the basic tenets of life outlined
above. We have a need to expand and therefore survive. In
fact, everything we do is oriented on this goal which is
programmed at a genetic level. Obviously the day to day chores
such as eating and breathing we do for survival, but also to
survive as a species we must expand.
In order to expand, humans do many things beyond mere
reproduction. Over the past 500,000 years we have developed
the means to enhance our expansion and survival by engaging in
agriculture, medicine, science, and technology. These
activities have allowed us to live longer, reproduce with more
success, evolve quickly, and have gradually made us the
dominant species of the planet.
Activities such as art, music, and philosophy also
serve their purpose in the need to survive and expand. Such
mental exercises serve to bring us stability, civilization,
and social equilibrium so that we may efficiently carry out
the processes for which we have been genetically programmed.
THE RIGHT STUFF
Five billion years from now (give or take a few eons)
the Sun, which feeds energy to the Solar System, will be dead.
It will die from having exhausted all of it's fuel. Before it
dies though, it will give it the old college try by slowly
vaporizing Mercury and Venus and making Earth a boiling sphere
of molten slag for several millenia.
In fact, the Earth will likely be too hot to support
life a mere 150 million years from now, due to the Sun's
expansion caused by helium fusion. The biosphere doesn't have
much time left, relatively speaking, since it has been around
for four billion years. Whats a self regulating biological
system to do?
So far the biosphere has been very adept to adapt.
Although the Earth has been through several catastrophic
natural disasters and climate changes, life has always hung in
there... surviving as it were. The survival-of-the-fittist
standpoint would hold that a successful biosphere would evolve
to plan for all contingencies, whatever the natural occurence.
The conclusion is that a successful biosphere must
create (evolve) a solution for not perishing when the star which
provides it's energy dies. If it does not, it will not survive
the death of it's parent star. This is assuming that the
biosphere develops on a planet in the method outlined here and
not in interstellar space.
The method for a biosphere to maintain it's existence
after it's star dies is to have the ability to move to another
star or to another location where it can continue expanding and
existing. There are likely many solutions to this difficulty,
but if Occam's Razor is applied, the easiest solution is
represented in mankind.
Evolving a single species which develops intelligence
is the easiest method for solving the problem of a biosphere
death. This single species can create technology which will
transport the biosphere to a place where it may continue. The
species will not have to transport *every* element of the
system, nor even all the species, since every part, as in a
fractal, represents the whole.
Humans are the natural solution of our biosphere to
cope with the problem of the Sun's eventual death. We are a
single species, evolved for intelligence which has the means
to carry out the destiny of life on Earth. We are a tool
created to carry Earth's seeds to the stars.
There is likely no other reason for intelligence to
evolve, since it would serve no other purpose in the needs of
the biosphere. This argument would also seem to preclude high
intelligence in species of non-technological orientation,
since their intelligence would not serve the biosphere's
needs. Such a species would be `self regulated' out of the
system or their intelligence filtered out or limited in some
fashion. This is likely what happened to dolphins and whales.
EVERY WHICH WAY BUT UP
It seems now that our purpose is clear. Our species
was evolved to transport the biosphere to the stars. We have
evolved suuficient technology to do so. Once a species has
reached our level on the technology curve, it reaches a point
where it is able to move away from the cradle, taking it's
genetic code with it. Apparently it is in the best interests
of the biosphere that we *leave*.
So what happens if we don't? That is very simple to
answer. Like all other species which did not evolve to fit the
needs of the system, we die. The human race, if it does not
fulfill the purpose outlined above, will become extinct and
the only things left over will be footprints on the moon and
half a dozen instellar probes with nice gold records on them.
The self regulating system in which we exist, creates
a pattern which makes it's needs easier to achieve. The very
things which give us the ability to live longer and reproduce
more such as agriculture and gasoline also eventually lead to
the ability for space travel; surprise, surprise. However,
once a species reaches such a level of technological
sophistication, those technologies which improved living
conditions for that species begin to have a detrimental effect
*unless* that species exploits space travel. Greater
technology increases population, which cause a host of
problems. Thus, a species is pressured by the system into
exploiting space travel... for it's own benefit.
If humans do not release the pressure of their system
by performing a evolutionary and technological process needed
for survival of the biosphere, then the pressure will build.
Nature is running out of time, and if we don't do our jobs,
she will kill us quickly. Without space travel, humans will
slow, stagnate, die in great numbers, and then likely become
extinct to make room for another intelligent race which may be
able to do better than we did.
WHATS THE RUSH?
One hundred fifty million years is a long time, many
wonder what the rush is? The facts are that *humans* do not
have 150 million years for the very reasons outlined above.
But even so, why not wait fifty or one hundred years?
It is important that once a species has the
technological capability to travel in space, they should
exploit it as quickly as possible to release the pressure on
their species. The pressure comes from the biosphere's self
regulating mechanisms which manifest as human overpopulation.
Venturing into space is much like going to the
dentist. If you never go, your teeth will likely fall out. The
longer you prolong it, the more difficult the eventual visit
will be due to built up problems which need to be fixed. But
if you go early, or on time, it isn't too bad an experience
after all and you are much better off because of it, no matter
how much it hurt your pocketbook.
Indeed, we are venturing into space now, but not at a
rate or a manner which parallels our exponentially inflating
knowledge base or population. We went to the Moon and now we
can't get past Low Earth Orbit. The biosphere "frowns" upon
taking a step back for every two forward. Policy makers need
to realize that space is not merely a playland for scientists
or a place to dump communications sattelites, it is crucial to
our survival and to the survival of all Life on Earth.
It would be nice if our generation was noted for being
the realization of an evolutionary process begun some 1.5
million years ago in East Africa; saviors of all Earth
lifeforms from now to eternity.
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