The environmental destruction caused by our species has reached levels that threaten the future of our civilisation. Population size and the resource intensities of our individual lifestyles are the two most fundamental issues affecting our sustainability. Many of the technologies we have developed contribute more to the problem, than to the solution. In addition, our genetically endowed traits for reproduction, competition/growth, distraction and even denial have undoubtedly contributed to our unsustainable behaviour. On the basis of fundamental perspectives in both ecology and evolution, I will argue that we must first acknowledge, and then subsume, some of our most basic biological drives if we are going to put ourselves on a more promising and less painful track toward sustainable living. The first, giant step will be to understand and accept the realities of our cultural and genetic heritages, as well as the fundamental biological patterns of populations dynamics observed in all other species. Realism is our best hope.
(For further details, please see PDF of an earlier article on this topic by Dr Grogan that was published in Free Inquiry – the journal of the second largest humanist society in N. America.)
Dr Paul Grogan is a professor of terrestrial plant and ecosystem ecology in the Department of Biology at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His research is focussed on understanding biotic and abiotic controls on the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nutrients in mid- and high latitude terrestrial ecosystems. He was awarded a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in ‘The ecology of arctic ecosystems and their sensitivity to climate change’ in 2003, which was renewed in 2008, and he received an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Government in 2007. Dr Grogan has published over 60 scientific papers, as well as some articles on broad ecological sustainability issues in the more general media. He has won several teaching awards, and is keen to engage with the public by offering broad biologically-based perspectives on scientific issues. Full details at: http://post.queensu.ca/~groganp/