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every human on Earth rich and happy

Potencia tu listening


TEXT

So, in the world right now, there's 8 billion humans.
There's a lot of climate problems.
There's a lot of political problems, and economic problems.
There's just a lot of problems.
Many people are like, "Well, that's because there's too many people."
"We're destroying the planet."
"There's just too many people."
It's not exactly true.


Humans are very good niche constructors.
We're incredible at manipulating the world around us for our own good.
Can this human creative ability to look at the world around us to see the way it is and imagine new ways and try to make them happen,
can that get us to a better, more equitable future-
not just for humans,
but for the planet, and everything living on it?
So the real challenge is then:
Okay, how do we live?
How do we use energy?
How do we create and distribute food?
How do we create and distribute health and wealth?
How do we create and distribute social good?
The complex reality for humans today is
that we have an opportunity to work with the world,
and for the most part,
we seem to be working against the world.
Niche construction, explained
People who are interested in the world, right,
how animals and plants live,
have long realized that there's some kind of relationship
between the animal and the environment.
Darwin in particular said, "Look, what's really going on is
that the environment is shaping organisms
and causing them to change."
But what we have known for some time,
and really began to be formalized
in the sort of '70s and '80s,
is this idea of niche construction;
the mutual interaction between organisms
and their world is bi-directional-
it goes both ways.
While there are pressures from the world
for food, for mates, for safety,
pushing on organisms-
they also push back.
So niche construction is an incredibly important part
of evolutionary dynamics that allows us
to understand the nuance and complicated relationships
between organisms' environments in a new way,
in a more complicated way,
but in a more biologically and evolutionary accurate way.
We can think about niche construction
in many, many organisms that do it in different ways:
The example that Darwin mentioned,
and many have talked about, is the earthworm.
So if you have a potting box
and there are no earthworms in it
and then you take some earthworms
and you put them in that soil,
what happens is those earthworms start burrowing
through the soil.
They ingest the soil and extract stuff out of it
and put stuff in it, and then basically poop the soil out.
They redo the ecosystem, making it better
for future generations of worms easier to live there,
but they also change it for plants
and for other animals living in and around the soil.
So that's a great example of niche construction
where the actions by organisms change the ecology,
making future generations have a maybe easier way
of dealing with it.
But there's even a better more, I think,
closer to human example of this,
and that is the beaver.
They leave their home.
They find a new place.
They pair up with another beaver,
and then they chop down a bunch of trees
and gather a bunch of wood,
reorganize that wood,
and they create both a little house and a dam.
So they change the chemical structure of the water.
They change the temperature and flow of the water.
They create an environment for themselves;
all such that those little beavers
that they're going to have eventually,
have a better time of it.
That's niche construction, right?
Beavers are responding to the challenges of the world:
of food, of mates, of safety,
by redoing the world around them.
But humans, for better and for worse,
we reshape the world in a pace and pattern
that nothing else does.
Human nature: Amazing and awful
So, when we talk about niche construction in humans,
we're not just talking about making buildings or dams
or using fire to heat things.
We're also talking about ideas, faiths;
beliefs about death and afterlife;
about morals and ethics;
about economics and justice.
All of those things shape how we act.
So, what we have to recognize then is the human capacity
to create, to imagine,
to live in incredibly complex societies,
to build amazing technologies,
is a double-edged sword, right?
On one hand, it slices through all our challenges
and makes us capable of doing a lot of stuff.
On the other hand, it slices through bodies and lives
and hopes and dreams.
And so the same capacity
that makes humans, in my opinion, amazing,
makes us awful.
We have the capacity to be the most amazing, compassionate,
incredible organisms on this planet.
At the same time,
we have the capacity to be the worst, cruelest,
most violent organisms-
and it's that dynamic process that makes us human.
What we can do is think technologically, biologically,
ecologically, and ask questions about sustainability.
And maybe to do this, we might want to listen
to peoples around the planet,
who are not the major contributors to the problems.
It's just that we've been trying one system,
a particular mode of economics and technology,
and yeah, it's sort of gotten us into a bad place.
So maybe,
just maybe,
we need to think culturally, a little bit more expansively,
to do a better job of biologically
and ecologically engaging with the world.
The “it’s just nature” myth
Now, many people will just say,
"Well, it's just nature."
Right?
The fact that some people are rich and some people are poor,
it's just nature.
The fact that in some cases men are violent to women,
it's just nature.
There's never just nature:
It's always history and politics
and culture and experience and biology
and bodies and brains and hormones and diets-
all mixed together.
So, anyone that says things are the way they are
because of human nature,
doesn't know what human nature is.


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