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One of the live oaks that bless my home

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Very Brief History of Humans

Have you wondered recently what makes us humans do what we do? Have you pondered why can we be so beautiful at times and act like crazed savages at other times?

Why, for example, President Donald J. Trump, who swore to defend the laws of my United States and to protect our Constitution, is glowing about two Confederate generals?

During the bloody civil war of 1861-1865, the Union of northern states declared loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, while the southern Confederacy fought to destroy my country and keep the savage slavery going.  So how can a U.S. president praise the two major traitors, who fought against everything we stand for and against the U.S. Constitution?
Donald J. Trump
Perhaps human history and nature can give us clues.  So who are we?

Humans are large omnivores, whose ecological niche is to reset (remove mass from) the environment in which they roam. A human requires about 4 square km to roam freely in small egalitarian bands in their natural settings.
Natural ranges of animals vs their body mass. Each human in his/her natural habitat requires about 4 square kilometers, (1000 acres) to roam and feed.  Today, most humans live in big cities that reduce their ranges to about 100 square meters. Such confinement makes humans restless and unhappy. Data source: Douglas A. Kelt and Dirk H. van Vuren, Ecological Archives E096-155, 2015.
Humans are ultra-social animals, like bees or ants, and together they form a superorganism. However, unlike the social insects, humans told stories, and wrote and read records (later books). These qualities made humans super-successful. They started multiplying and burned through their natural habitats.

And so humans became sedentary, and most had to work very hard in exchange for unhealthy food, and short and sickly lives.

Hence humans invented science and technology to free themselves from the boring labor and make more time for what they really like: do nothing but play.

Mostly northern humans invented technology and science because of their latitudinal misfortune: To stay alive, they had to work 3-4 times harder than their southern cousins.

With the superior technology, these northern humans have always had better weapons and armies, so they conquered the world.

Technology quickly exchanges energy and matter flows into things we like, so domesticated humans invented money and credit to speed up these exchanges.

More humans and more exchanges meant more fossil energy acquired, and mass mined as raw materials, water and food. The human superorganism has acquired an insatiable thirst for energy and matter. This thirst is now impossible to quench because there are too many of us. Unfortunately, our superorganism just cannot stop.

By now, the myriads of humans have been reduced to under 100 square meters of practical range, have little meanigful labor, and technology might eliminate what remaining labor there is. Humans are then even more stressed and need more happiness. Alas, how?

With the superior communication technology, we have developed social media and created massive happiness in the form of virtual tribes, each with their own, shared narrative. Now, that’s being happy!

But the present electronic money and credit have become disassociated with the underlying energy and matter exchanges, and both must fail.

Will the virtual human tribes be able to overcome their towering global superstructure and reset their many narratives of more to a narrative of less?

Well, today has arrived. Now my story becomes a prediction and it splits:

Alternative 1 (and an epitaph):  Humans will not be capable of drastically changing. Thus, Kaboom!

Together, the human tribes have written a few good stories while we lasted. Not to worry though, many humans will survive the global Kaboom, and we will write the new, perhaps quite different stories. Unless we won’t.

Alternative 2 (and my best wishes):  Given the global dangers we are facing, we will stumble into a different narrative that will appeal to enough humans.  We will prepare the governments and societies to live with less and realize the being happy requires a lot more than stuff. It requires us to be what we truly are: the super-social large animals that live in families and small groups (our neighborhoods), and feel warmth of other humans.

Hey, you, unpredictable wonderful humans!  You have surprised me again. I wish you a long happy life, humanity.