Pollution and Evolution

Buddha, the Founder of Buddhism

by Jayaram V

Many times we see things from our perspective of self-interest and fail to see the larger picture. As a result, we make mistakes in reaching conclusions or finding solutions. Many times we do not know that we were wrong in our thinking and assumptions and repeatedly keep making the same mistakes. Take for example the case of pollution, climate change, or greenhouse gases. The general opinion which a vast number of people hold and which the scientific community supports (not entirely for scientific reasons) is that pollution is not good for the earth and the world.

It is true from a limited perspective, but may not be so from the perspective of Nature or the ecosystem. One of the lessons we learn from the study of ecology and ecosystems is that each ecosystem becomes increasingly inhospitable to the dominant species until they can no longer survive or sustain it. The degradation of ecosystems happens invariably due to the activities of the species only. While it may prove harmful to the surviving species, it facilitates the emergence of new species and a new set of conditions that govern its dynamics and equilibrium.

Let us examine the problem of pollution from this perspective and the perspective of Nature. Pollution may be bad for humans but not so for Nature, which may use the opportunity to evolve better humans who are going to be resistant to pollution and radiation. Like everything else, planets have a life of their own.

They pass through different climatic and environmental phases before they die, and the species that survive in them have to meet or overcome several environmental barriers. The current humanity is certainly not fit to live in harsh conditions which will be the norm upon earth in future. As time passes by, the earth is going to become harsher and harsher for the beings upon earth. Nature has to prepare the species to meet those conditions, and ensure that life continues despite harsh conditions until it can no more facilitate the process.

We also learn from science that evolution is a continuous process. From an evolutionary perspective, there is a lot of scope for human beings to further evolve since they are currently imperfect and vulnerable to many threats and diseases. They have some inherent strengths, but they are not yet fully equipped to survive all conditions or meet all challenges. In their present state, they are not fit to travel in space or survive on other planets unless they live inside protected environments. Creating large human settlements on other planets in protected domes or bubbles will be both expensive and difficult to maintain.

However, pollution of the earth may provide Nature with an opportunity to evolve intelligent and more able bodied humans who can not only tolerate radiation but also polluted climate. Such beings may also be able to travel in space for long and remain immune to radiation. They may also be able to survive in thin atmospheres and harsher climates of other planets without ozone or with limited supply of oxygen and other elements.

Thus pollution may be bad for the current humans but from a broader perspective may be good for life upon earth. We are not able to see it because our self-interest and survival are involved, and we are in denial of the facts of evolution which for Nature is a continuous process.

Think of this scenario. If the earth is polluted beyond control and the ozone layer is destroyed, millions of people will suffer and die due to radiation, but a few will survive and emerge stronger. Nature may use them for Natural Selection to create better humans who will be resistant to radiation and inhospitable climates. They may be humans in several respects, just as humans are in relation to the primates, but different in their genetic structure and capacity to survive inhospitable conditions. They may also be better equipped to colonize inhospitable planets.

What I have presented here as a natural justification for the pollution of the earth may be a far-fetched idea, but it is not unscientific. We are not seeing the larger picture of how life evolves upon earth, or acknowledging pollution and overpopulation as part of the natural evolutionary process to ensure the survival of the fittest. It may be bad for humans, but good for Nature. We may delay the process of Natural selection, but we may not be able to stop it entirely.

The point, however, is whether it is science or life, we must constantly evaluate and challenge the biases and assumptions that are hidden in our decisions, thinking and conclusions.

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