Evolution is driven by environment. The environment “selects” those organisms which are best adapted to thrive in the environment, which too, is always ever-changing. At the present, the human species, is struggling to strive and thrive in an environment in which many of that species, are harming the environment in unprecedented ways.
Science and conservationists compete on a daily basis, and with little impact as yet, to convince people to stop depleting oceans, polluting air, eliminating other species, and contaminating air, water, soil, and habitats upon which we depend for life.
Ours is still a young species, we are barely a million years old, and other primates have come and gone, many of them lasting far longer than we have so far. We may still have much time to learn, or rapidly burn out our time by over-running our resources. Our ambitions and aggressions often arrive before our reason, and before our wise alignment with natural laws have been carefully considered. We still fall prey to what we need to believe, before what is true can be revealed, when we learn what we have to believe.
What then, is the future of evolution? There are many possibilities. We may download some of our human history onto saved records on computers. We may have major die offs as our species compete for resources, such as drinking water, oil, fuel, food, and medicine. We may have hybrids, cyber-bots, perhaps, of human and machine. We may have parts of all of the above. We may have none of the above. It has often been speculated upon that we may not survive our “technological adolescence”, that is we may not outlive our more destructive tendencies such as war, greed, nuclear conflicts, extreme climate change and destruction of sustainable lands. One does not have to believe the science of global warming, or climate change, to be aware that deforestation, loss of habitat, loss of drinking water, overpopulation, and many other disastrous things are indeed happening every day.
People will survive, if able to wake up from denial, or they will die, as people often have, blissfully unaware that they have power to stop it. Revolutions, Holocausts, inability to stop religious crusades, and ideological movements that promise reform, but deliver death, are ample proof of this human tendency to live in denial, deny our own power, and participate in wanton destruction by way of finding scapegoats.
Given major die offs, the humans that survive, or which may eventually arise again from other primates may have advantages. Although the time necessary for another primate species to evolve is almost unfathomable, it is conceivable that some form of “record” could be left behind, just as we draw heavily upon the fossil record to learn about our australopithecine forbears, and the 4.4 million year old Ardipitheicus, from Ethiopia.
Surely, the geological record will show future earth people some clues. Just as we have found with sedimentary layers that show the likely meteor impact that killed off the dinosaurs, there will be evidence that displays retreating glaciers, risen oceans, and fossilized bones of catastrophic extinctions and so on. One wonders how much of the plastic patch gyres which cover thousands of miles of oceans will float on, long after we are gone, or back to living in cozy caves. Although microscopic, plastic will persist for thousands of years, proof we were here.
In the Mad Maex, theory, proposed by geophysicists and highlighted upon the event of the BP Gulf oil spill, Methane Accumulated Disaster and Marine Accelerated Extinctions, pressurized methane could erupt and signal a runaway chain of destructive explosions, leaks, and aftermath that create massive extinctions starting with ocean life, and of course, continuing onto everything dependent upon ocean’s ecology. There is always a meteor on its way, it always being a question of when, not if. There are always solar storms and flares, and other natural disasters too, some of which we have not yet been fully conceived of in all of their consequences.
Our continuing evolution will always be determined by these environmental factors, the only real question we can address, is should we do anything about those things we DO influence, such as try to protect the environment? The answer is always yes, but there are enough of us that refuse to believe we have such influence, that our species could die out taking countless other collateral damaged species with us. If so, perhaps later primates, or what ever does evolve to fill our niche, will be older and wiser, than we.