2.b.25 – Does cultural evolution influence the human environment?

Read 19270 times.
February 12, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti


Does cultural evolution influence the human environment?

The environmental changes that have affected us after the last glaciation are not a consequence of climate, but of our own culture and of the ruthless competition between our peoples to contend the resources of the planet, a planet always smallest for a humanity ever more numerous.
We said that in recent times new preys or novel predators, or new competitors species have not appeared: this is not completely true and can be very misleading. The emergence of new preys in the ecosystem means in fact the availability of new food resources that increases the chances of survival, disturbs the old balances and involves then in various ways the whole environment; what is then the spread of the farming if not the appearance of new food resources? Their impact on our lives was much bigger than it has ever been the consequence of the introduction of a new prey or a new wild plant in our usual menu: colonizing the entire planet we have found countless times before new plants and new animals to hunt, but the agricultural revolution has done more than just increasing the food resources: it has profoundly changed our lifestyle and our economy, always been based on hunting and gathering. From this point of view the emergence of agriculture and farming are a more radical change of all earlier climate changes: nothing made us abandon before the tribal life, that had always accompanied our biological evolution.
So profound a change implies a great developmental thrust, i.e. the need to a fast adaptation, and we, according to our nature, have culturally adapted ourselves.
However, it is still to be explained why, after the spread of agricultural civilizations, cultural evolution has begun to slow down. As we have said for new preys, even the appearance of new predators or new competitors is particularly important for the development, as also affects our chances of survival; anyway, we know well that, from immemorial time, the various human populations, when not closely related to each other, consider and treat each other as if they were of different species; it has been always existed for humanity a kind of cultural speciation, even within the same community, where different social classes or castes clearly separated even sexually, through appropriate laws and conventions prohibiting mixed marriages, often appear. The old saying “homo homini lupus” means that man is the predator of other men and then shows us a sad and well-known fact: in the course of history new predators and new competitors actually appeared, only that they were cultural human species. Among different peoples there isn’t a total genetic and cultural isolation but it is enough to encourage behaviors typical of the relations between different species, such as predation and fierce competition.
Today we know that farming and agriculture are cultural changes that have caused further and even larger changes, as the abandonment of tribal life, triggering a chain reaction that feeds on its own; cultural evolution has begun to rotate on itself with increasing speed, like a dog that bites its tail.
From the agricultural revolution onwards, our life was separate from the old ecosystems and our environment has become increasingly artificial, i.e. increasingly dependent on our culture; the environment therefore evolves together with culture and the same goes for our predators and competitors who, being human, have our own capacity and speed of cultural adaptation.
There is something profoundly true when they say that man is separate from nature, if by nature we mean our original environment; anyway, in the new environments that we have generated, we are still subject to the laws of nature as the merciless struggle for survival and natural selection; the rules of the game remained the same, only now the game is played on the cultural rather than genetic field.
To win the race of survival, the adaptation speed is important, especially when environmental conditions are rapidly changing and if there are competitors to beat; this leads us to take maximum advantage from our ability to adapt culturally, causing anyway equally rapid changes in our artificial world and in our competitors, who are as good as we are in adapting to them. We can therefore conclude that from some millennia we really live in a state of perpetual and growing evolutionary emergency, fed and strengthened by our internal competition.



  DONALD NORMAN   stella1

lampadina  HOW TO REGISTER?

iperindice HIPERINDEX


 previous                                          next >


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Ofelon project utilizes a Creative Common license
Creative Commons License