Wednesday, November 20, 2013

is ethical revitalization the secret to avoiding collapse?

mahb.stanford | The most important ethical question facing society and the scientific community today is whether we can prevent the collapse of global civilization in response to today’s “perfect storm” of environmental problems.  That is, will (or can) we pay enough today to spare future generations from utter disaster?  The interrelated crises of overpopulation, wasteful consumption, rapidly deteriorating life-support systems, growing economic inequity, widespread hunger and poverty, toxification of the planet, declining resources, an increasing threat of resource wars (especially over oil, gas, and fresh water), a worsening epidemiological environment that enhances the probability of unprecedented pandemics, and persistent racial, gender, and religious prejudices that make these problems more difficult to solve, represent the greatest challenge ever faced by Homo sapiens.  The urgency of finding answers is signified by the view of many scientists that society may have only a decade to initiate drastic corrective action, that this complex of interrelated problems is unrecognized by the elites who run the world, and that it has not yet generated a global “issue public” around sustainability.  Civilization is fiddling while its life-support systems burn.


ken said...

"Many biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded. 'We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality,' says Bapteste. That bombshell has even persuaded some that our fundamental view of biology needs to change." "The problems began in the early 1990s when it became possible to sequence actual bacterial and archaeal genes". "As more and more genes were sequenced, it became clear that the patterns of relatedness could only be explained if bacteria and archaea were routinely swapping genetic material with other species - often across huge taxonomic distances". " 'There's promiscuous exchange of genetic information across diverse groups,' says Michael Rose, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine." "As early as 1993, some were proposing that for bacteria and archaea the tree of life was more like a web. In 1999, Doolittle made the provocative claim that 'the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree'.13 'The tree of life is not something that exists in nature, it's a way that humans classify nature,' he says."

"A team at the University of Texas at Arlington found a peculiar chunk of DNA in the genomes of eight animals - the mouse, rat, bushbaby, little brown bat, tenrec, opossum, anole lizard and African clawed frog - but not in 25 others, including humans, elephants, chickens and fish. This patchy distribution suggests that the sequence must have entered each genome independently by horizontal transfer."31 "HGT [horizontal gene transfer] has been documented in insects, fish and plants, and a few years ago a piece of snake DNA was found in cows." "Biologist Michael Syvanen of the University of California, Davis... compared 2000 genes that are common to humans, frogs, sea squirts, sea urchins, fruit flies and nematodes. In theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationships between the six animals. He failed."

"The problem was that different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories." 'We've just annihilated the tree of life. It's not a tree any more, it's a different topology [design or shape] entirely,' says Syvanen. "It is clear that the Darwinian tree is no longer an adequate description of how evolution in general works." "Rose goes even further. 'The tree of life is politely buried, we all know that,' he says.

CNu said...

lol, not so fast bunkie..., we provided the conceptual tools to help you bridge gaps in the darwinian narrative years ago.