MAN AS A BIOLOGICAL SPECIES

Authors
Citation
C. Ramel, MAN AS A BIOLOGICAL SPECIES, Ambio, 21(1), 1992, pp. 75-79
Citations number
12
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Journal title
AmbioACNP
ISSN journal
0044-7447
Volume
21
Issue
1
Year of publication
1992
Pages
75 - 79
Database
ISI
SICI code
0044-7447(1992)21:1<75:MAABS>2.0.ZU;2-P
Abstract
The environmental problems of today can essentially be seen as a conse quence of the biological success of the human species, the dominating role of man over various ecosystems and his ability to overcome biolog ical control mechanisms. What is the biological background of this hum an prosperity? Evidently, the most significant evolutionary feature of mankind is the development of the brain. All evolution is based on th e transfer of altered information from one generation to the next. For every plant and animal species, except the human species, evolution i s based on the transmission of altered genetic information through mut ations. This, however, is a slow and impractical process, where almost all changes constitute useless mistakes. Man has succeeded to by-pass this time consuming evolutionary process by a different kind of evolu tion; cultural evolution. Acquired experiences can be transmitted oral ly or in writing from one generation to the next-an evolutionary syste m infinitely faster, more selective and more efficient than the geneti c evolution. The spectacular human development over the last ten thous and years can be entirely ascribed to a cultural and not a genetic evo lution. The storage and transmission of information has gone through d ramatic development that has resulted in practically unlimited possibi lities to store and sort information by means of computer techniques. The accumulation of scientific information in life sciences has enable d man to learn enough about genetics to manipulate himself with geneti c information. The horizontal spread of information through mass media may accelerate the cultural evolution, but it also implies a loss of cultural diversity. The ability to overcome biological control mechani sms has caused decreased mortality without a corresponding decrease in fertility, resulting in human population crises and unsustainable use of natural resources. This development has caused a drastic decrease in global biodiversity through human interference with natural ecosyst ems.