The Future Is Wild: A Natural History Of The Future


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The Future is Wild: A Natural History of the Future

The Future is Wild is a very interesting book as it provides us with a peek into the planet earth 200 million years from now. However, the most fascinating aspect of this book is how the authors rely on the knowledge of the past to build the image of the future. This logical linkage between the known past and the mysterious future takes our imagination to its limit, and yet does not cross the limits of our reasoning and logic. The book begins by explaining briefly the history of the planet earth and the frequent patterns of evolution in order to set up the readers’ minds, and then it jumps smoothly five, a hundred, and two hundred million years in the future. During these jumps, many changes occur as completely new species evolve while others go extinct. Also, the shape of the continents keeps changing till they all form another single landmass just like they did in the far past. It is really remarkable how the earth had a supercontinent during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, then it broke apart into several smaller continents, and after that, 200 million years in the future, theses several continents rejoin again to form another supercontinent. It is as if history repeats itself but now it gives a chance to new species to take over the planet. Another interesting, and yet sad, piece of evidence about the planet earth is that the Human era that we live in is actually part of a ten thousands warm spell in a hundred thousand years of what they call a glacial cycle of an Ice Age. This is interesting because it indicates that no matter what human beings do, this interglacial period is only temporary, and that it is scientifically impossible to prevent the planet from being mostly covered by ice in the next five million years. This fact alone is sufficient to motivate humans to try to find other inhabitable planets in order save themselves from being extinct.

What I really do not agree with in this book is:
The Future is Wild assumes that the Human era will defiantly end with a period of mass extinction resulting from a combination of human influence and natural phenomena. With this claim, the book eliminates any possibility of surviving the Ice Age.

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This claim is rather pessimistic and very difficult to agree with, as it could be possible that human beings would be capable of surviving the Ice Age and its changing climate. There are two scenarios that can be thought of to support humans’ survival. First, humans might evolve to adapt the changing climate of the future. The book relies very much on the facts of the past and uses them to predict the future. However, humans have never faced any serious period of mass extinction throughout their entire history. Therefore, there is no sufficient proof, or fact, from the past used in the book to support the claim that humans cannot evolve and overcome the changing climate just like some other creatures can. The other scenario that can be thought of is that humans could improve vastly in technology and reach another inhabitable planet. If this happens, even if some proportion of the population is left behind, there will still be enough humans to prevent the Human era from going extinct. Also, they might be able to monitor the planet earth and wait till it is inhabitable again. So, even though it is quite possible that the Human era could really end as claimed in the book, the possibilities of humans surviving that tough period cannot just be ignored. Believing in the claim that human beings will certainly go extinct means that people and scientists in particular are going to lose their motivation to explore and discover new facts and technologies. That is why it is imprecise to look at things from a single angle and throw out all other options and alternatives.

The most valuable contribution that I think this book makes to our understanding of the evolution of earth’s biosphere is:

The Future is Wild provides us with a glance into the future of the planet earth. It gives a complete idea about the changes that would occur to the plant earth 200 million years in the future. The tremendous computer-generated pictures in the book make it easier for the brains to imagine the unusual changes such as the evolving of flying fish. But among all the benefits and contributions that this book provides, the very efficient use of the principles of evolution to visualize the future can be regarded as the best contribution. Usually, those principles are used to understand and track down the origin of present and past creatures, and how they evolved. But in this book, the recurring patterns of evolution have been used effectively to come up with actual images of the shapes and abilities of the inhabitants of the future planet earth. The book uses the lessons learned from past events of evolution as a foundation for its forecasts and thoughts. This approach suggests that our knowledge of evolution should not be used only to understand the past of our planet, but also to foresee its unknown future. It encourages us to link the past with the future to generate a general image of how life will be million of years later.


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