While studying human evolution to find solutions to the growing climate crisis, researchers found a mix of encouraging and depressing results.
Dr. Tim Waring, an associate professor at the University of Maine in the United States, attempts to answer the simple question, “How did humans get here?” in his book. recent papers Focuses on climate change.
“If we understand the processes that have led to such a huge impact on the Earth’s biosphere, we can try to solve the problems we face,” he told Euronews Next.
Waring approaches climate change through the lens of cultural evolution, a field of study that intersects biology and “all the social sciences.” His latest paper analyzes how human evolution may impede solutions to climate change.
The professor and colleagues Ale Zasmary and Zach Wood published the report in Philosophical Transactions, the world’s oldest scientific journal.
“While I want to offer hope to humanity, the purpose of this paper is not to be artificially positive, but to accurately describe the challenges we face,” Waring said. Told.
“Solutions need to be global”
Waring and his team analyzed the resources used by humans, their impact on the environment, and the development of cultural traits over the past 100,000 years.
They discovered that humanity has systematically found solutions to the problems it has faced.
“Many people now feel that climate change is something that can be solved eventually, but there is good reason for people to believe that because humanity has encountered few problems that it has not yet solved. There is,” Waring said.
Still, our track record alone won’t be enough to save us in the long run.
The authors of this paper discovered that one of the reasons we are so good at problem solving is because we can use our resources more intensively and on a larger scale whenever we need them. Their analysis also emphasized that humans can only find solutions after a problem has already gotten out of hand.
In the context of climate change, these approaches may not work because there is only one Earth.
While he praises international efforts such as the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, he also emphasizes that many of these efforts favor local, sub-global groups such as countries and companies. did.
Our evolution has shown us to be adept at solving problems between groups, but never before at this scale and complexity.
The authors say there is a need for truly global solutions “even if they go against the interests of existing groups.”
“I think we should be very happy that climate change is the first challenge, because it is easy to solve and it is clear that it will be painful for all of us. So we should consider themselves lucky,” the expert said. Compare that to other challenges such as ecosystem collapse that will occur in the future.
“We’ve been extirpating species, poisoning, and changing environments around the world for a long time, but we don’t know what impact this will have on ecosystem stability,” he said. explained.
Humanity needs to deal with competition and conflict
But even if we can solve climate change, experts say we need to be mindful of evolutionary characteristics, as humans tend to compete for resources.
Previously, conflicts caused by our competitiveness were manageable because the planet was healthier. But as we test our global limits, researchers see no way around this destructive behavior that once helped make us one of the most advanced species on Earth. I am concerned about this.
“There is no long-term solution to human evolution on earth that doesn’t involve unpleasant conflicts. We need to try to solve it,” Waring explains, adding that we have not yet applied the He stressed that models of cooperation and coordination are not important. It is not sustainable for thousands of years.
Essentially, in order for humans to survive, we need to change the way we evolve.
One of the directions the paper points to is a system of self-limitation and market regulation that would “bring Earth’s human populations ever closer together into a single functional unit.”
However, as the “little understood” field of cultural evolution develops, concrete solutions remain to be explored.
“We still haven’t come up with a lot of interesting policy ideas because we haven’t really looked at the nature of climate change from an evolutionary perspective,” Waring said.