I have just finished reading the book Humanity: The Chimpanzees Who Would Be Ants by Russell M. Genet, Ph.D.
This fascinating book is the science-based story of how, in a remote corner of an ordinary galaxy 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang, the descendants of a third line of chimpanzees evolved into millions of humans who organized themselves into ant-like societies.
Originally rare hunters, we humans took up agricultural ways, aping the clever ants that became numerous by developing ingenious herding and gardening skills. Evolving our simple chimp tools into machines, we then tapped a bonanza of fossil fuel energy and blitzkrieged the planet.
Now facing planetary limits, what is our fate?
Reversing direction, will we return to a planetary Garden of Eden or, pedal to the metal, crash into oblivion? Will we transform the Earth into a sustainable global farm or, leaving our birth-planet behind, voyage to the stars with our machine partners to establish a galactic empire?
For me Part 1 of the book was probably the most revealing, and I learnt a great deal about the beginning phases of life. It was incredibly interesting, especially the process from quarks, to hydrogen and helium, then supernovae creating the heavier elements, then atoms to complex molecules, cells, bacteria and genetic DNA. I had hitherto not understood how the engine of gravity and stars built the first stepping stones to life. Absolutely fascinating.
Parts 2 and 3, confirmed my own thoughts and feelings about cultural evolution, governmental and religious control, and the stupendous speed at which we have evolved, whilst these sections of the book provided the necessary grounding on our chimpanzee descendants, our similarities to ants, how we changed from hunter-gatherers, to agricultural farmers, while reminding us about a number of cultures that quickly developed and just as rapidly became extinct, and how the machine age brought about our ruthless efficiency.
The stage is then set for the final section…… the analysis and expansion of the possible outcomes of our future into four scenarios:-
- Chimpanzee Paradise - the high tech Garden of Eden
- Boom and Bust - may the punishment fit the crime
- Planetary Superorganism - all together on the global farm
- Star Trek - our descendants inherit the galaxy
These again provided much food for thought, and more importantly led me to a more positive mindset and direction for the future of mankind.
Russell M Genet is a Research Scholar in Residence at California Polytechnic State University. He is an adjunct professor of astronomy at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo and as the Director of the Orion Observatory, observes eclipsing binary stars and studies cosmic evolution. Russ, who pioneered the world’s first fully robotic observatory (featured in the PBS special, The Perfect Stargazer), was the 51st President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He teaches Astronomy at Cuesta College on California’s central coast, where he lives with his wife and childhood sweetheart, Cheryl.
You can obtain this book from Collins Foundation Press using this link:-
and you can read Russ’s Cosmic Perspective for further insight into his book.