Environmental movement — with and without Nature

Elephants without tusks? As Darwin predicted (as did Alfred Russell Wallace at the same time), genetic mutation happens at times of stress – environmental and physical. Survival of the fittest is not about stronger, it is about better able to survive — a sign of real strength — DNA gene changes that can ensure survival of your offspring. In Mozambique — a land torn with civil war and strife for decades where food is scarce and money even more scarce — elephants have begun to be born that never develop tusks. Elephants with tusks are standing money for poachers or, seen from another perspective, people simply desperate to survive. Interestingly, the female elephants born over the past few years are — about a third of all those born — without tusks. Tanzania and Kenya are beginning to see the same genetic modification turn up too. It is called evolution.

Mankind also needs to evolve to survive. There are signs of this happening everywhere. We do it by study and laws—both of which are forms of societal modification brought about by genetic passed-down abilities and desires that color our cultural identity and, by reverse modification, our conformity to those new norms. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Do we decide to save the planet and environment because we are simply aware of the need or is the absolute need to save our environment to survive as a species slowly (too slowly) modifying our DNA to make us want to save the environment? There are signs everywhere, similar to the tuskless elephant.

The EU has approved and enacted a ban on all single use plastics — bottles, bags, tabs, cleaner’s wrap and a whole host of other plastic currently clogging rivers, lakes and oceans. That’s 512.6 million people — almost 8 percent of the world’s population — changing lifestyles and cultural norms because their outlook has been modified sufficiently, to modify behavior. DNA is a set of codes modifying who we are. Laws are a set of codes modifying how we fit together. The two are indivisible since human laws are an outcome of DNA behavior of the species.

Denmark has accepted, perhaps following China’s view, that gas and diesel cars should also be phased out to ensure the survival of the species. By 2030 there should be no non-electric or non-hydrogen cars in Denmark. Hydrogen you ask? Yes, did you know that San Francisco and LA are the first cities to allow Toyota to sell, service and refuel hydrogen cars in the USA? Like the Prius before (which was market tested only in Los Angeles first), the Mirai is a zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell car for the commuter. Powered by hydrogen, the Mirai’s only emission is water with a range of 312 miles (and to help you ease into it, they are also giving you 3 years of fuel for free). Honda also has a hydrogen fuel cell car — the Clarity — currently on test.

And Madrid, seriously under stress from pollution, has decided that, like Denmark, to survive, the city needs to ban all exhaust emitting vehicles from the city. Already people are being fined and traffic is down 35 percent and dropping. Like China, which taxes non-electric new vehicles heavily, the move is not designed to improve economic profits, but one of survival of the species. Laws enacting code for survival. Perhaps this is the way forward in incremental steps to ensure the Darwinian survival of our species.

Now the question is: Why? Yes, it will make corporations money and it may seem to make your routine easier. But what is 60 percent of the work force supposed to do instead? That’s the future we are facing and the leaders around the world — as well as deep thinkers — better start asking the big questions before it is all too late.


Peter Riva lives in New Mexico.