Wednesday, December 08, 2004

NIMBY

In his book The Future of Life, biologist E. O. Wilson suggests that we are hardwired for the nearby and the short term.

"The human brain evidently evolved to commit itself emotionally only to a small piece of geography, a limited band of kinsmen, and two or three generations into the future." Anything else was counterproductive from a Darwinian point of view.

If Wilson is right, it is against our biological nature to worry about rain forests in Bolivia, higher sea levels in 2100, or AIDS in Africa.

Our capacious, adaptable brains may not have evolved to take the wide, long view, but they make it possible to do so. Our higher human nature is to transcend our biological nature.