In an earlier post, I requested ideas about the possible future directions of evolution. Humans are not the first species to change the Earth; photosynthetic bacteria filled the air with oxygen billions of years ago, which forever altered the planet and the course of evolution, and most of this oxygen may have come from one species. But the abuse of human intelligence and technology has transformed most of the Earth into a disturbed habitat, which is best suited to weeds and pests (like Kurosawa’s giant dandelions I mentioned previously).
Right now the biggest human impact on the Earth is habitat destruction. We destroy entire ecosystems and replace them with cities and monoculture farms. The only species that thrive under these conditions are humans, weeds, pests, germs, and our crops and livestock species. Compared to millions of wild species, the list of organisms that might be ancestors of the future is pretty short.
But in less than a century, the major environment in which evolution will take place will be a planet transformed by global warming. Already, species are being affected by it—some have become extinct, while others have evolved new adaptations. Global warming is nothing new, and past global warmings have resulted in lots of new species (especially back in the dinosaur days). But today it is happening so fast that the only species that can respond to it are those species that are already good at responding to disturbances: once again, weeds and pests. Will trees of future forests be the evolutionary descendants of today’s weeds, just as some of the “trees” of St. Helena are descendants of sunflowers? Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing (in her book Mara and Dann) described an African continent in which the rainforests were gone and the earth crawled with dangerous animals, as well as with many new races of humans (who were usually at war with one another). Global warming does not need to be catastrophic, but it will be if it occurs faster than evolution.
There is one major reason that we have not taken further action against global warming. That reason is the Republican Party. In fifty to a hundred years, when the effects have begun to devastate human civilization, people will remember the Bush Administration and Senator James Inhofe (from my state of Oklahoma) and blame them, and their party, for the disaster. And they will blame the rest of us for letting the Republicans get away with it.
On December 7, Republican Congressmen issued a statement that asked, in effect, which was greater: the greenhouse gases emitted by Air Force One taking President Obama to the Copenhagen climate conference, or the hot air emitted from his mouth while addressing Congress. Think about that. That is simply a childish insult. Republican leaders are not only scornful of all scientific evidence, but also of anyone who dares to disagree with their presumed omniscience. Democratic Congressmen never talked like that about Bush. Republican leaders are, besides being destructive, simply embarrassing brats. I wish I could say to those of you outside the United States that the Republican leaders do not represent America. I wish the rank and file Republicans would stand up against them. But even though they are a minority they can still destroy the efforts of those who want to save the Earth from the devastation that humans are bringing upon it.
That is why I wanted to introduce a new phrase into public discourse: Republican Climate. Use it when you get a chance in conversation and writing.