Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Human Will Survive a Mass Extinction

Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction is both a unique and odd book; Annalee Newitz marshals a great deal of information and ideas to present her vision of the human condition and its future with a great deal of off-kilter zest. 

As the title suggestions, Newitz views three elements as key to human survival in the future.   

We must scatter in the face of hostile circumstances. There is much genetic evidence that the human diaspora contributed to human survival.  As more and more human groups moved out of Africa and into new environments, the more they adapted to varying circumstances, contributing to the likelihood of our species survival.  For Newitz, colonization of other parts of the solar system, and other planetary systems, is the logical path for future humans.

We are creatures apt at adaption, using our superior brain power and social systems to not only survive what nature throws at us, but to alter nature itself.  This proclivity has led to the transformation of our planet – with both highly negative and positive results.  Newitz believes that our ability to adapt and change our environment is yet another key to our future success: we must manipulate our planet and other worlds to survive.

Finally, there is remember.  Interestingly, Newitz’s views the stories people tell of their own cultures as a necessary piece of our continuance as a species.  She uses the example of the Passover Haggadah, the book used by Jews at Passover to remember and immortalize their flight from Egypt and survival as a people.  Stories like this will continue to be key to human survival.  As we move forward, we must tell stories which stress our continued vitality.

As stated, this book has a great many ideas, viewpoints, and insights.  Some are off the wall, while others make a great deal of sense. Newitz has crafted a strangely odd and beautiful view of ourselves. 

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