Archive for August 2nd, 2009
Writer and evolutionary theorist Elaine Morgan starts her TED talk by describing the ongoing paradigm: Chimps stayed in the trees and humans hit the savannas.
She argues that humans are just too different than the chimps to justify the ongoing paradigm–for instance, look at our naked (hairless) skin and bipedality. We didn’t evolve on savanna. Something else must of happened. She explains that there is a close connection between all of the naked animal species and water. Water life could also explain bipedality. Consider our distinctive layer of fat, which can’t be found in other primate species. Again, life in water would explain that layer in us (just like it explains that fat layer in whales). Consider also our speech. How is it that we can speak so well? Only the diving animals and diving birds have such incredible control of their breathing.
Morgan argues that it’s time to destroy the ongoing paradigm and declare that humans evolved in the water. According to Morgan, almost everybody likes the aquatic theory but almost everyone officially declares that it’s “rubbish.” But this is one of those cases where everyone could be wrong. She mentions David Attenborough and Daniel Dennett as recent converts to the aquatic ape theory.
[Note: some scholars have given detailed criticism of the aquatic ape hypothesis. For instance, see this entry at Wikipedia].
Stewart Brand was the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog. He’s been doing a lot of thinking over the years, and gave an update at TED.
He discussed the 1 Billion people living in squatter cities, soon to be 2 billion. There’s a lot of desperation and a lot of crime, but it’s not all bad news. There is a scale of efficiency about these cities. Talk about compactness! Go to the 6 minute mark of this video within a video and watch what happens immediately after the train goes by.
Brand suggests that coming to the city gives people hope that they will be better off financially, which inexorably brings down the birth rate.
He has nothing good to say about coal–it is the cause of the climate change we see. He has nothing bad to say about nuclear power; it is a “green” fuel. According to Brand, we can’t get rid of coal fast enough. We are going to be facing massive climate change, faster than we can imagine. This will cause many millions of “climate refugees” and ongoing “resource wars” such as the one in Darfur.