ARE THE SMARTER PEOPLE BETTER ?
We are a unique species. We have the capability of invention that has made us the most powerful. Not competition, but cooperation is our success mantra. We have slowly accumulated power over generations. We have known the growth of our ecosystem through centuries. We have known which plant to use as medicine, which animal to avoid, which animal to hunt. We have seen exemplary revolutions in agricultural practices. We have constantly tried to understand the world around us. We have developed weapons of mass destruction. Do we have the right to destroy what we create? Have we become powerful more quickly than we have become wise, asks Carl Sagan.
Earth has faced 5 big mass extinctions in the last half-billion years. The rate, at which the species are disappearing, thinks Elizabeth Kolbert, raises questions about our survival. Is there any chance we can put the brakes on this massive loss of life? One of the reasons of extinction is that we are removing the barriers that used to keep island species isolated. As a result of this a large number of bird species have already been lost. Particularly affected are the species that exist in a very restricted range. These species are getting extinct as their habitat is destroyed. Kolbert thinks human activity is largely responsible for the extinction. She thinks extinction is not a natural phenomenon. We are responsible for rapid change of the climate, chemistry of the ocean, surface of the planet. We are overfishing. We are cutting down forests. We can do much better to slow down the loss, only if we really want to. We the humans have to see if we are on a collision course with other creatures. Since we are very adaptable we can survive the loss of many extinct species. The question is – can we afford the luxury of following the downward extinction trajectory?
There is another way to look at the abolition of man. CS Lewis expressed dismay at the probable advent of the post human. He did not want the human race to lose its historical existence because of the technological advances. He did not want to build super humans through biology. Lewis thought that these super creatures, on the contrary, will be “weaker, not stronger: for though we may have put wonderful machines in their hands we have preordained how they are to use them.” A scientifically programmed and redesigned human race is not a good idea. Lewis wrote, “For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases will be the power of some men to make other men what they please.” The good in humanity must come from evolution and not from invention. Do we need smarter people to run the world? Are the smarter people better?