Monday, November 17

Homo Sapiens Redesign: Homo Sustainabilius

I just knew Mother Nature would figure something out! The 6 Billion of us is such a tight squeeze on this planet, with our unsustainable ways!

Ecologists say that eventually climate change will shrink all species. They don't say, but, well, won't that include our own species?

It turns out the degradation of environments around the world due to climate change is limiting food availability, and as a result, smaller animals are doing better now than larger ones that need more resources.

Warmer temperatures limits species size.

Bergmann's rule says that species size decreases as warmth increases. That's because smaller species can radiate heat better to adapt to warm temperatures. The tropics host smaller species. Larger animals have a lower surface-area-to-volume ratio, allowing them to retain more heat and fare better in a cold climate, smaller ones in warm climates.

As a result, "As the world gets warmer, species will shrink."says Wendy Foden, the World Conservation Union biologist studying the effects of climate change on species.

Another population biologist Andy Purvis says that dying early will also reduce size. He says that all species will gradually evolve into smaller versions because as a result of climate change, they'll be coping with sudden changes in their environment and hence dying prematurely, leading to smaller offspring over time

So this will make sustainability more attainable for our species, won't it?

Imagine if we had been only 1 foot tall from the get-go. We'd have much less impact on the planet's resources. We would have set sail for America - where we now tear through five planets-worth of resources- in a boat about the size of one large log.

But of course, this adjustment is going to be in the very, very, very long run.

If only Gaia had had the foresight to make this adjustment to the size of Homo Sapiens a few million years earlier, we might not need five whole planets now to live the unsustainable way that we live now.

Artwork by Slinkachu

For the NRDC OnEarth