Is there a law that says that human behaviour, evolution and culture will always go on advancing or improving. Are we more advanced than we were in evolutionary terms? Looking at the past it seems to me that we are certainly better off than we were in the past.During the first part of the last century we were plagued by wars,where millions were lost in battle.There was the Holocaust and genocide in Rwanda and Cambodia and millions killed in China and Russia. For most of the century a cold war existed between the communists and the West. The flu pandemic in 1918 killed millions.Yet in the nineteenth century there was just as much loss of life through war and disease.Yet gradually there seemed to be improvement in the human condition. Early wars were more local,like civil wars in the UK between what were no more than war lords and then between Scotland and England. When these were settled the were wars between countries and later between groups of countries as in the last World War.
Still now the improvement is a bit patchy as there are areas of conflict and the AIDS and TB pandemic continues in certain areas. Just go back to the nineteenth century Britain and the time of Charles Dickens and one can see how miserable life for the poor was with a short life expectancy. Health everywhere has improved. Education is much more wide spread and people are better fed housed and are warmer. We now have human rights where nearly everywhere life is more valued. We have the good old days but that's only because of amnesia.
On the material side,think of travel, improved hotels, motor vehicles , aircraft and television not thought of a little more than hundred years ago. Communication and information through the internet.
Look how sport has changed and how brilliant sportsmen and women have become,in standards not even dreamed of. We have wondered if records can go on tumbling indefinitely.
So will life go on improving? We have just had a wakeup call with the recent depression with millions losing their jobs.At the same time the world population continues to increase so that the economy has to increase at a greater rate than ever for life to improve for the vast majority of the worlds population.
What has enabled us to have and improved life.It has been our ability to use fossil fuels to produce energy which takes the drudgery out of life and gives us time to do other things.When there is an electricity outage we realise just how dependent we are on electricity. The other important development in the last hundred years has been the automobile.This has given us freedom undreamed of before.Another important development has been communication.Before electronic communication about the only way to get a message from on person to another was to take it by hand.If a criminal was on the run the only way to catch him was the chase him and not send a message ahead to stop him. So many little developments like this have improved life.
On the other hand crime murder and drugs seem to be on the increase. Drugs and alcohol abuse are devastating the youth and their families. This increase had led in many cases to increased crime.
All this has happened in my lifetime. Drugs were not an issue in my youth.
However what I have called improvement has come at a cost. A cost to the environment. A cost to the animal, plant and sea life. If we have gained the ecosystems of the world have lost.Most people have no idea where their food actually comes from. Most have never seen a cow being milked and think their milk comes from a plastic bottle.The quality of life in many ways has diminished because of their disconnect from nature. So what has improved for them? They are warm, clean,dry, well fed and can play on the computer and watch TV.For many their main interest seems to be watching football and their favourite club.They do not take part in sport themselves.
The new generation is becoming fatter and unhealthier, addicted to binge drinking. Education is being dumbed down with fewer and fewer studying science which has brought us this far.
China and India are hell bent on achieving the living standards of the West, and who can blame them?The world's resources are limited and running out and the population continues to increase. Their standard of living continues to improve though their quality of life in real terms decreases.Quality of life is its connect and enjoyment with nature and not just material benefit.
Well I don't know if there is a law that says life will continue to improve. This improvement has been because of our intellect. We have been able to overcome the limitations of limited resources that have been placed on other animal life. We have been able to manipulate these resources to our benefit.Now there is pressure being put on these resources. The soils are becoming more infertile and can only produce with the application of more and more fertilizers.The soils are eroding and being lost forever. Forests are being destroyed so that their soils soon degenerate through loss of organic matter.Fish stocks have been exhausted in the once abundant oceans.Cities have been built on flood plains after draining and destroying the ecosystems rich in bird life.
We all of course live in the present,physically anyway. We only really know what life was like during our lifetime, or the part that we can remember. Its therefore difficult to compare life in the present with the past.The best of life is really for the well off.You can use the normal curve of Bell curve to place people using IQ, achievement or wealth and there will be 50% below and 50% above average and there is a good correlation between the three traits. Of course there are always exceptions and those that disagree with this always point to the exceptions. For those above the average life has always been getting better and for those below life will always be more difficult and for those at the bottom life is always dire. For those in the top ten percent life can be very good but it may not bring happiness. That is another story.Life for the top ten percent I suppose has always been pretty good.
As the worlds resources decrease its those in the top perhaps twenty five percent that will survive and maybe this will be a sustainable level of life on earth. About two billion people.
How will this number of people be achieved. Who knows, but there are several candidates that could bring this about. Wars over scarce water resources. Famine and disease. Several diseases are having their toll. AIDS and extreme drug resistant TB, malaria on the increase and a virulent strain of swine flu for starters. We have been cute in that we produce vaccines in response to these dangers. Drought and famine may be difficult to combat in the event of a perfect storm. The main areas of food production may be hit by drought and crop disease at the same time in well off countries. They will not be able or willing to send food to the poor nations, also in the grip of a climate catastrophe. Millions could die off in a matter of months before anything could be done. Weakened plants and people are more susceptible to disease.To make the storm more potent, nations that could help may be at war or near war taking their attention away from the looming disaster. Then of course there is always the possibility of a nuclear holocaust.This is what many are thinking of at the present.Yet in spite of all the wars and the flu pandemic in the first half of the last century the population continued to escalate. What will give and where will be the tipping point?
As we have seen disease has little effect so either the perfect storm or a nuclear holocaust are the most likely candidates.The perfect storm will allow the survival of the fittest. Just as in the past humans success was because of their brain power so those most intelligent will find a way of surviving. Those remaining will build a better world,regenerating the stocks in the sea,the forests and the grasslands,thereby rescuing the animal and plant life from the brink.Ha ha just wishful thinking.If on the other hand there is a nuclear holocaust destruction may be indiscriminate and it will all depend on the way the cookie crumbles.Wars disease and famine with no time for the worlds ecosystems.