Life's prerogative: An evolutionary perspective on human population growth, agriculture and earth systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the impressive agricultural achievements of the past century, it will become increasingly difficult to feed the growing human population in the next few decades. The process of enhancing agricultural yields is extremely complex and costly and in the future it will be intricately related to important scientific and technological advances in genetic and earth systems engineering. Intensified agriculture will impact on biodiversity and climate with irreversible consequences on a magnitude only determined by proper governance and balance between local and global needs. In turn, unforeseeable paths in science will provide the technologies and edge needed to alleviate the effects of anthropomorphic and natural catastrophic events. Within this framework, human knowledge-based endeavors can be viewed from an evolutionary perspective as representing a major evolutionary transition in life's diversification process. Darwinian evolution couples heritable variation with natural selection to maximize fitness, but is also controlled by feedback loops that introduce nonlinear behavior capable of stabilizing or destabilizing evolutionary processes. The proposed transition involves a change in evolution's vehicle (from genetic to knowledge-based) that enhances independence from the Darwinian constraints of natural selection and increases the stability of the evolving system. These considerations justify the full advance of science and technology despite of apparently deleterious consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-35
Number of pages4
JournalAgro Food Industry Hi-Tech
Volume12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science

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