Friday, September 14, 2007

Why species plural?

People have been asking if there's a typo in the title of my book Gaiome: Notes on Ecology, Space Travel and Becoming Cosmic Species. Nope, no typo here. I chose "cosmic species" (plural) not "a cosmic species" (singular) for two reasons:

First, if we become cosmic, we won't do it alone as a single species. Among Earth's biomes, only groups of species spanning multiple kindoms have mastered life support. So it will be in space.

Second, when people start living permanently in space, they won't remain one species for very long. In millions of isolated little worlds, each with new and unpredictable selection pressures, humans will evolve away from our current form. In time, our distant descendants will include an enormous range of beings, each as different from us and each other as bats and whales are today.

Humans cannot become cosmic species alone, nor can we avoid becoming many species as we come to live in the wider cosmos.

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