Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Evolution's possible winners

Looking through the news today, I get that sneaky feeling that the things that the experts are saying are true: humans are done for. From zombie apocalypses to climate change disasters, to reports that asteroids may hit the earth and end it for us all in a nanosecond, it looks like the end may actually be near. At some point.

And the news is even weirder for evolution's possible winners. Apparently the most adaptable creature to climate change is the mosquito. With short lifespans, large numbers and the ability to genetically modify themselves to intuitively hibernate, proliferate and fly among human patios, it looks like the mosquito may outlive humans.

They're definitely going to stick around longer than the polar bears, apparently, who have too few numbers and too large lifespans to adapt that quickly among melting ice floes. No problem, you may think, humans are way smarter than polar bears and we know better than to swim after seals for days. But even so, we share the same physical adaptation limitations that complex organisms like our fellow mammals have.

Unlike our fellow mammals, we do have adaptive brains and they may save us. But civilization and a growing dependence on gadgets to entertain us have made us soft in terms of nature. Only the strong will survive, after all, which gives the clear advantage to two other recent newsmakers who look like they'll outlast us: the old man in Windsor who's growing his own rice and the economics student who has lived without money for the past year.

Apparently, the old man in Windsor was trying to prove a point about rice to the rest of Canada. First, that it was possible to grow it here, making a Made in China product absolutely not Made in China for once. Second, that growing good rice may be possible as well, therefore vastly improving the livelihood of Chinatowns from coast to coast (there are no Chinatowns in between). This is an excellent point, considering that growing your own food will likely be an essential survival trait as the end approaches. And rice is not a bad start.

But a former economics student living in the wild without money for a year could put the Windsor rice grower to shame. Apparently, he lives in a free RV for shelter, has a compost toilet and even makes his own paper. He says that he's happier than he's ever been in his life in his primitive state and has no intention of coming back to the world of paper bills and coins. And rightly so, because when the rest of us will be crying for our ipods when the end is near, this man will already be living the way that the rest of us may be forced to live.

Personally, I hope that I go immediately when the end arrives. I don't want to live in a world full of mosquitoes and compost toilets. As romantic as it sounds to live a life devoid of money and superficiality and material wealth, life alone in the wild sounds lonely and stinky. And that's not the kind of world that I want to live in. I'd rather be one of evolution's losers.

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