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No. 121: Jan-Feb 1999

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Is intelligence a deadly pathogen?

A recent letter in Nature reinforces our comment in SF#120 concerning the threat humans pose to the workings of Gaia. (The Gaia Hypothesis asserts that the biosphere acts in ways that maintain environmental conditions favorable to the existence of life.) In his letter, A. Longhurst wonders whether the earth's biosphere acting as a whole -- Gaiafashion -- may have erred in creating an environment conducive to the evolution of intelligence. It is is not clear, he says, that the sentient part of the biosphere (meaning "us") can develop enough self-control to reverse global warming, pollution, etc. He concludes as follows:

"In short, is intelligence a pathogen to which the biosphere can adjust, or is it terminal? Perhaps it is as well that we cannot yet observe other habitable planets, to discover what became of their sentient life."

(Longhurst, Alan; "Too Intelligent for Our Own Good," Nature, 395:9, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #121, JAN-FEB 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss