Evolving Ourselves

Evolving Ourselves

How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation Are Changing Life on Earth

Book - 2015
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Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue that we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. New advances in biotechnology help us mitigate the cruel forces of natural selection, from saving prematurely born babies to gene therapies for sickle cell anemia and other conditions. As technology enables us to take control of our genes, we will be able to alter our own species and many others--a good thing, given that our eventual survival will require space travel and colonization, enabled by a fundamental redesign of our bodies. Future humans could become great caretakers of the planet, as well as a more diverse, more resilient, gentler, and more intelligent species--but only if we make the right choices now.
In Evolving Ourselves, futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution--sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example: Globally, rates of obesity in humans nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014. What's more, there's evidence that other species, from pasture-fed horses to lab animals to house cats, are also getting fatter. As reported by U.S. government agencies, the rate of autism rose by 131 percent from 2001 to 2010, an increase that cannot be attributed simply to increases in diagnosis rates. Three hundred years ago, almost no one with a serious nut allergy lived long enough to reproduce. Today, despite an environment in which food allergies have increased by 50 percent in just over a decade, 17 million Americans who suffer from food allergies survive, thrive, and pass their genes and behaviors on to the next generation. In the pre-Twinkie era, early humans had quite healthy mouths. As we began cooking, bathing, and using antibiotics, the bacteria in our bodies changed dramatically and became far less diverse. Today the consequences are evident not only in our teeth but throughout our bodies and minds.
Publisher: New York, New York : Current : Published by the Penguin Group, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781617230202
1617230200
Characteristics: ix, 371 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Gullans, Steve - Author

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eferry Jul 10, 2015

It's pretty obvious, once we think about it, that human evolution is not over. In the past hundred years, we've managed to treat and overcome some of the most common illnesses- see most childhood afflictions- which had previously wiped out huge numbers of children under 5.

The authors are extremely optimistic about the future of humanity, and see all sorts of benefits for humanity once we've successfully figured out genetic manipulation- all concepts of environmental issues are brushed aside. This does allow for some interesting hypotheticals, but might leave some readers skeptical.

Still, a thought-provoking read.

r
rpavlacic
May 05, 2015

This book's basic premise is that humans, and the environment around us, have changed faster in the 150 years since Darwin first delivered his theory of evolution, than in the billions of years that preceded that. And not for the better. This is a frightening book but it is one worth reading. If we don't heed its advice, we may be looking for another planet to live on by which time it will be too late to save ourselves.

t
thebritlass
May 03, 2015

Accurately titled and subtitled, this is a must-read for anyone interested in science, or even in current events. Part exciting and part frightening, the latest research, presented in detail yet highly readable, provides excellent background on how we are affecting our genomes, epigenomes, microbiomes, and viromes, leaving us with the question - should we start consciously directing our evolution, because we can, and, in fact, we are.

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