Post-script of “What Really Are We? The Story of the Fast-opportunist and Slow-Stratgist”

Is our path towards ecological extinction set in stone?
Is our path towards ecological extinction set in stone? Is there any way we could stop it? (Artwork created by the author Marmotian, source image of some skeletons come from the Public Domain)

Thanks for reaching the very end of this trilogy! 😉

I want to briefly mention that, having r-strategists in an ecosystem is natural and not inherently “evil”, no matter how badly you might think of them after reading my article. They only become a problem when they are “quantitatively” out of balance. In fact, fast r-strategist will keep popping up even if we try to “eliminate” them, it is simply an inevitable result of the eternal laws of thermodynamics and the action of natural selection, both impossible and unnecessary to extinguish. It is well-known that many organisms, even a pure colony of bacteria grown under external nutrient supplies in a lab, will gradually take the path to become “faster and faster” (check out the Longest-Running Evolution Experiment). The reason is that there is nothing to preclude that the faster individuals would have a reproductive advantage over the slower ones in the short-term. Only in the long-term do other selective pressures come into play e.g, resource limitation, pollution, disease/selective pressure exerted by another group of organisms. This latter form of long-term selection usually results in a certain catastrophe (if not outright extinction) the more a species has invested in opportunism. You can imagine a long-term selection process as a large container with a narrow head that holds and buffers “bad traits” in its voluminous body, until the moment of tipping/collapse (this will be explained more in an upcoming article).

However, whether we want to follow this path of rise (in the short-term) and fall (in the longer term) is what we need to think hard about. I am quite delighted to tell you that I believe – humanity is a strong candidate capable of “escaping” this path voluntarily. We can choose to either aggravate this rise and fall (which we are doing now), or choose to embark on a more steady and harmonious path. We can learn some lessons from nature on this front, those organisms that are able to decide their own stable trajectory are those good at self-sufficiency (able to secure sufficient and stable resources) and self-defense (able to defend its ground against opportunists), i.e., those who are able to survive in their own rights outside the rat race game. Think of a honey badger (did you know they sleep most of the day and give birth to only one cub?), porcupine, hedgehog, or even a cactus etc. Of course, under the immense impact of modern humans, none of their ways of life are absolutely safe.

Optimistically, the human game could be more varied, due to our larger degree of freedom of choice, but we ought not to let too many choices steering us away from the basic requirements needed to achieve stability. In the end, it is entirely up to all of us. I said “us” because it is not just about “you” and “me”, the stable path entails a highly disciplined, cooperative and difficult game to develop true self-sufficiency and self-defense. In an ideal scenario of stable path that is inclusive to most people, we would need to eliminate prisoners’ dilemmas and allow facts, true knowledge and trust to spread freely and widely (that’s why you have the obligation to share my articles 😉). Best of luck to all!