“Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity,” Prof David Macdonald, Oxford University.
The installation ‘Natural Deselection’ by Tim Simpson illustrates ease by which human beings exercise power over the natural world. Three flowers are allowed to grow in artificial setting until the tallest plant reaches a height sensor. The sensor then triggers the death of the two smaller plants. The installation demonstrates with brutal efficiency the concept of ‘the survival of the fittest’.
The theory of Natural Selection devised by Charles Darwin, explains how specimens which are best adapted to their environment outcompete weaker species. The process enables the reproductive and genetic continuance of the best biological traits. While natural selection is an important part of ecosystem development, we see the same process being artificially replicated in human behaviour on countless occasions with damaging results. In food production for example plants are continuously modified to suit human production and consumption.
A carrot should be X shade of orange, X shape and X length. It should take X numbers of days to grow. Any carrot that does not fit our criteria is removed and it’s existence is deemed unworthy. This mentality goes beyond food production, it also dictates our landscapes and our experience of the natural world.
In many aspects, human behaviour imposes strict parameters on the growth and development of nature.
The ‘selections’ we make not only influence our perception of the world or our idea of what a carrot should look like, it affects biodiversity and nature’s resilience to change. Biodiversity is made up of ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity which together effect the chemical and biological flows of the planet. Biodiversity increases resilience to climate change and underlies the stability of all life on earth. Our obsession with ‘natural’ selection has led us to the sixth mass extinction of species. The current rate of extinction is 100x higher than normal. Within several human lifetimes, three quarters of animal species could be lost.
When will we learn that nature is not ours to control?
“Teach your children
what we have taught our children-
that the earth is our mother.
Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
If men spit upon the ground,
they spit upon themselves.”
Link here to view ‘Natural Deselection’ by Tim Simpson