Recently, I had the pleasure to meet British scientist Chris Middleton at Burlington House, Piccadilly prior to the two of us being formally admitted as Fellows of The Linnean Society of London (FLS). Chris and I were equally thrilled to have been elected a FLS and there we were, ready for the formal admission and poised to proudly sign the ‘book of obligation’ under the watchful gaze of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
“It was at a meeting of the Society in 1858 that papers from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace outlining the theory of evolution by natural selection were first presented.” – www.linnean.org
If you’re serious about Natural History, being sponsored to become a FLS is as precious as a BAFTA is for a leading actor. However, all Fellows are walking their own path to their own individual summit – some, like me, will take a leisurely stroll and take plenty of time to smell the roses. Others, like Chris, will fearlessly ascend the north face of their challenge if doing so will make us stop and think about the damage we’re doing to our precious planet. And that’s exactly what happened when Chris introduced himself and told me more about his upcoming book. I was gripped because Chris’s message seems aligned with Maxwell Knight’s unpublished manuscript (The Frightened Face of Nature) and many of my own personal thoughts; however, Chris is a scientist and, therefore, backs up his theories with facts.
The following snippet is a preview from Chris’s upcoming book ‘The Dynamics of Humankind’ — an original work offering a comparative analysis between the natural world and the unnatural human world; discovering specifically what factors created a the self-extinction of supposedly the most intelligent animal on Earth.
“On planet Earth, all life subscribes to what we all know as the Circle of Life, and in the study of behavioural ecology we describe it mathematically using Game Theory, as the Hawk-Dove model: an evolutionary stable strategy where wins and losses typically balance out overall across the full spectrum of participants, allowing for all parties to remain in the game. Hawk-Dove tells us of an equilibrium we know as the point of homeostasis which is where a large natural system (an ecology) can maintain its own internal environment. Without homeostasis, an ecology is in disequilibrium and shall eventually perish. Life is not a battle of all-against-all for survival like the familiar term ‘struggle for existence’ seems to imply at face value: perceived as an all-out existential competition between every player; be those just a few cells, plants, some fish or pride of lions. Life is, instead, a cooperative balancing act across many levels and domains, adhering to healthy proportion and equilibria.
The Tree of Life is vast and appears through taxonomic ranks called: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Taxonomy categorises the fundamental system of the life, but also the increasing complication to it; with Domain being the simplest as cellular, and Species being the most complicated as a megastructure of many cells forming a larger organism. There are only three domains of life: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya; the key differences being the architecture of the cell, and how it gains and utilises energy. Here we also find the roots in the Tree of Life, where it spans outwards and develops into branches that split again into further branches, and so forth. Each time, existence routes itself down the most energy-efficient path, following a fixed set of instructions which governs our universe and everything in it. Each taxonomic rank segregates and insulates the individual players into worlds of their own in different branches, ultimately amounting to an enormous biological web of discrete interconnected relationships between each establishment in what we call the Biosphere: the living world.
The behaviours, motivations and intents of each particular lifeform from a different taxonomic establishment has no direct relationship with the others in food, territory nor means of reproduction. For example, the photosynthesis of plants is the opposite of metabolic respiration to a mammal, therefore, the plant is in no competition for life with the mammal, and vice versa. Now the important part: just because a mammal may eat plants, does not mean the struggle for existence exists between the mammal and plant. In our ignorance, it may look that from psychological biases of our own, but it is not: this is merely an ecological transaction taking place. The beating heart of life pulsates only from an aggregation of many different actors interwoven into to the fabric of the biosphere’s global ecosystem, where each organism is the support system of another organism, all taking the shape of our Circle of Life. Indirect ecological relationships places key barriers within the strata of biodiversity so the natural economics of living things can coexist and produce eternal fecundity, without the entity of Life ever dying off completely. Just as the Universe unfolds in a way to ensure it continues without failing, Life unfolds in the same manner to ensure it does not die. For that matter, no living thing is alone, cannot survive alone, and most central to the point here: cannot act as a one-player game like we do every day.”Christopher Robert Middleton FLS