Week 6_Wenjing Wu_“Unnatural”

The first two books on the suggested reading list of this week and the discussion on Charles Darwin in our section reminded me of my Genetics classes. A year ago, our Genetics professor encouraged everyone in the class to give presentation on interesting biological subjects by which we might get extra credits. My topic was “Gaia”.  “What is life?”  and  “Gaia” were my major reference books. The main idea of Gaia Hypothesis is proposing that the whole Earth itself, including both organic and inorganic components, is considered to be a complex intact system which is capable of maintaining its own balance for living creatures. Though controversies still exist, I do believe in this theory. And I also believe what we human being have done is seriously jeopardizing the balance. Overexploitation of fossil fuels and forrests, enormous emission of greenhouse gas and wastes, endless boundry for land and water wastes and pollution, they went beyond Gaia’s self-clean competence, let alone the devastation done by unnecessary wars. Every step made to achieve industrial progress had taken its toll on our mother planet, due to human being’s nearsightness and irresponsibleness. Obviously we are taking more than needed and leaving more than wanted. I use the word “unnatural” to describe this trait. In any “unnatural” process we might easily get countereffects. Farm-grown mushrooms, for example, are not as nutritional as those grow in the wild. In the discussion we had last Tuesday, a question was poped out of how we should treat the extincting species. The view that human beings should try their best to save endangered  creatures was largely agreed on. However, I still think not all endangered species are worth saving. Because that not all changes result from human activities.

 1,1500 trackable objects in Low Earth Orbit (LOE) around “Gaia” from the North Pole. In low orbit, debris can stay adrift for decades before they eventually burn up in Earth's atmosphere.  (by AFP/Getty Images)

1,1500 trackable objects in Low Earth Orbit (LOE) around “Gaia” from the North Pole. In low orbit, debris can stay adrift for decades before they eventually burn up in Earth's atmosphere. (by AFP/Getty Images)

 

 

I remember another topic on that Genetics class presentation was “Chamerism”, which referred to the phenomenon that one individual having “more than one genetically-distinct population of cells that originated from more than one zygote”. In other words, part of a chimera’s body, be it a set of proteins or blood cells, is genetically identical to another individual. Actually chimerism is not at all rare. One can even say every body is a chimera, since the genetical-level exchanging of information happens right in the beginning of conception. Transgenetic technology, from this prospective, could be considered as artificially creating chimeras unachievable by natural process. I think this could be call “unnatural”, too. I’m not optimistic about any genetically-modified or transgentic products. For instance, a latest article on New York Times talked out new-emerged problem caused by In Vitro Fertilization.

Then again, back to the notion of Gaia, I pondered from time to time: Is human technology part of Gaia, too? Is She smart enough to have a certain population in human beings, say like environmentalists, be aware of the “inconvenient truth” and act on changing it?

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