Happy New Year

I’m in the middle of Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken, and I thought the following passage was appropriate for the first day of 2009:

A familiar biological tease argues that a hen is an egg’s way of making a new egg. Likewise, have we evolved plants to create agriculture, or have plants used agriculturalists to evolve themselves? From a coevolutinoary perspective, both propositions are true. What is the difference between a squirrel burying acorns across the forest and humans planting potatoes across the globe? Who is the master, and who is the servant? Is it the acorn’s or potato’s idea to be nutritious, or the creature that buries them? Evolution is not about design or will; it is the outcome of constant endeavors made by organisms that want to survive and better themselves. The collective result is intoxicatingly beautiful, rife with oddities, and surpassingly brilliant, yet no agent is in control. Evolution arises from the bottom up–so, too, does hope. When fire destroys a forest, the species and plants that were lost will reassert themselves over time. Seeds that have lain dormant for decades and that germinate only when subjected to intense heat will come to life, burst into foliage, and bloom in the spring. These plants may have deep taproots that bring up minerals, or broad leaves that create a canopy to help preserve the topsoil from sun and rain. The older the forest, the more resilient its capacity to regenerate. Humanity is older than the oldest forest. Its capacity to adapt and restore is vastly underestimated. Evolution is optimism in action.

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