NSF says the best way to deal with a warming climate is to evolve with it

Press Release 14-120

How evolutionary principles could help save our world

The age of the Anthropocene–the scientific name given to our current geologic age–is dominated by human impacts on our environment. A warming climate. Increased resistance of pathogens and pests. A swelling population. Coping with these modern global challenges requires application of what one might call a more-ancient principle: evolution.

That’s the recommendation of a diverse group of researchers, in a paper published today in the online version of the journal Science. A majority of the nine authors on the paper have received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Evolution isn’t just about the past anymore, it’s about the present and the future,” said Scott Carroll, an evolutionary ecologist at University of California-Davis and one of the paper’s authors. Addressing societal challenges–food security, emerging diseases, biodiversity loss–in a sustainable way is “going to require evolutionary thinking.”

The paper reviews current uses of evolutionary biology and recommends specific ways the field can contribute to the international sustainable development goals (SDGs), now in development by the United Nations.

Evolutionary biology has “tremendous potential” to solve many of the issues highlighted in the SDGs, said Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, another Science author from the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate. The field accounts for how pests may adapt rapidly to our interventions and how vulnerable species struggle to adapt to global change. The authors even chose this release date to coincide with the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly, which starts September 24.

Their recommendations include gene therapies to treat disease, choosing drought-and-flood-resistant crop varieties and altering conservation strategies to protect land with high levels of genetic diversity.

“Many human-engineered solutions to societal problems have turned out to have a relatively short useful life because evolution finds ways around them,” said George Gilchrist, program officer in NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded many of the Science authors. “Carroll and colleagues propose turning the tables and using evolutionary processes to develop more robust and dynamic solutions.”

Applied evolutionary biology just recently made the leap from an academic discipline to a more-practical one, spurred by an effort within the community to better synthesize and share research insights. And–above all–increasing environmental pressures.

“The fact that we’re changing the world means that evolutionary processes are going to be affected,” said Thomas Smith, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and another Science author. The question is, according to Smith: Do we want to be engaged in this change, or not?

The paper also serves as a platform for establishing a cross-disciplinary field of applied evolutionary biology, Carroll said, and a way to promote the field as a path to sustainable development solutions.

“Evolutionary biology touches on many elements of the life sciences, from medicine to conservation biology to agriculture,” said Smith. “And unfortunately, there hasn’t been an effort to unify across these fields.”

This disconnect exists despite the use of evolutionary tactics in many disciplines: treating HIV with a cocktail of drugs, for example, to slow pathogen resistance. And the effects of evolution already swirl in the public consciousness–and spark debate. Think of the arguments for and against genetically modified crops, or warnings about the increasing price of combating drug resistance (which costs more than $20 billion in the U.S. each year, according to the nonprofit Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics).

Seldom are these issues described in an evolutionary context, said Smith. “We’re missing an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of evolutionary principles in our daily lives.”

In conservation, evolutionary approaches are often disregarded because of the belief that evolution is beyond our ability to manage and too slow to be useful, according to a paper Smith co-authored in the journal Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (AREES).

That article, recently published online, also tackles applied evolution. It was co-authored by Carroll, University of Maine Biologist Michael Kinnison, Sharon Strauss–of the Department of Evolution and Ecology at University of California-Davis–and Trevon Fuller of UCLA’s Tropical Research Institute. All are NSF-funded. Kinnison and Strauss are also co-authors on the Science paper.

Yet contemporary evolution–what scientists are observing now–happens on timescales of months to a few hundred years, and can influence conservation management outcomes, according to the AREES paper.

Considering the evolutionary potential and constraints of species is also essential to combat “evolutionary mismatch.” This means the environment a species exists in, and the one it has evolved to exist in, no longer match.

Such disharmony can be “dire and costly,” the authors write in Science, citing the increasingly sedentary lifestyles–and processed food diets–of modern humans. These lifestyles are linked with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. Restoring our health requires greater physical activity and less refined carbohydrates: “Diets and activity levels closer to those of the past, to which we are better adapted,” the Science paper said.

Implementing applied evolutionary principles often requires very careful thinking about social incentives, said Jørgensen. Public vaccination programs, for example, and pest control in crops often create tension between individual and public good.

Applied evolution, therefore, requires input from biologists, doctors, agriculturalists: “We’re making a call for policy makers, decision-makers at all levels,” to be involved, Jørgensen said.

Evolutionary biologists don’t have all the answers, said Smith. And using applied evolution is not without risk. But we have reached a point “where we need to take risks in many cases,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and be overly conservative, or we’re going to lose the game.”


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September 13, 2014 9:51 am

You do know this is sh-t that makes me go HUMMMMMMMMM ;>)

Reply to  lorne50
September 13, 2014 12:39 pm

I know, meme explative CAPS emoticon, right?

September 13, 2014 9:58 am

Evolve to live in a more comfortable climate? No problemo

September 13, 2014 10:02 am

that’s odd…..I haven’t felt the urge for the past two decades

September 13, 2014 10:05 am

to whom do I send my request for funding???
Oh, I study various animal droppings (and humans are included)

Gary Pearse
September 13, 2014 10:05 am

On the surface of it, I like it. This is a much less economically and politically intrusive approach to dealing with the precautionary principle. If we warm or don’t warm, we are applying adaptive tools that likely will lead to better medicine, more productive agriculture and the like. It permits us to continue to use the most economical energy and, indeed, having cheap energy will assist the whole adaptive (if and when necessary) process. Just keep its management away from the UN and the NGOs who want to use stuff for elitist-run world government. They don’t want to have this because it may support policies that help Africans to get cheap energy and real economic development, too.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
September 13, 2014 3:58 pm

I see no thought put in on adapting to colder temperature…which of course is a much bigger challenge . I like the piece for its suggestion that we adapt however….that is what we do best.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
September 14, 2014 3:58 pm

Brought to you by the Obama administration.
“Never let a crisis go to waste.”

September 13, 2014 10:05 am

Good thing there aren’t any dinosaurs around anymore to ruin our picnics!

September 13, 2014 10:09 am

Our biology science is just as important as your “climate science.”
Our important biology science deserves to have money flung at us. We will do important stuff with the billions you send us. We will start with a big meeting in Hawaii, or Bali, or ………

John Slayton
Reply to  earwig42
September 13, 2014 10:14 am

…the Galapagos?

Reply to  earwig42
September 14, 2014 5:44 am

The funny part being that many biologists have only a vague idea of how Natural Selection actually works….check out Greg Cochran’s site West hunter for examples.

September 13, 2014 10:15 am

“This means the environment a species exists in, and the one it has evolved to exist in, no longer match.”

Except the environment a species exists in has never been static. Climate has changed in the past and it will change in the future. That’s where natural variability comes in. Many died from the plague, small pox, or the flu, but not everyone. That’s because some had immunity due to natural variation and survivors passed it on to their offspring. A similar thing happens to species when the climate changes. A few weak species may die off completely, but their niche will be filled in by others. Most species can adapt to small changes in the climate, or they wouldn’t still be around. The worse thing that could happen is for evolutionary biologists to start tinkering with genes to prepare people or other species for warming and have the climate cool instead.

September 13, 2014 10:31 am

The biggest really stupid assumption made by most who get into the future-predicting business is that they assume “business as usual” unless humans decide to get involved and do something , like alter the means of producing power. But “business as usual” has never existed for any length of time, certainly not lately, what with the advancements in technology , etc. Competition also precludes a static technology. Anyone who thinks we will still be building gas powered cars far into the future simply doesn’t understand auto technology , which greatly favors the electrically driven vehicle because of reliability, simplicity, lower fuel costs – it’ll happened whenever electrical storage becomes practical. This has already occurred in the golf cart world, where formerly most were gas powered. Only electric golf carts are now being used , or built.
The same will be true of power generation.

September 13, 2014 10:31 am

In regards to: “Think of the arguments …. or warnings about the increasing price of combating drug resistance (which costs more than $20 billion in the U.S. each year, according to the nonprofit Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics).”
I have been researching this issue — antibiotic use in agriculture and its role in MDR (multiple drug resistant) infections in humans — for the last couple of weeks, corresponding to two researchers who have published this year on the issue — one of them publishing a seminal review of the topic. Neither has found or knows of any “smoking gun” case of antibiotic resistant illness being transmitted to humans from farm animals. In humans, it is generally believed that ~ 100% of MDR illnesses have their origins in hospital settings. There is evidence, however, that humans employed by the UK National Health Service have infected their household pets with MRSA — apparently bring the infection home from UK hospitals.

September 13, 2014 10:31 am

Looks like the NSF and “evolutionary ecologists” with the UN Bundestag are goose stepping toward a 1936 solution.

Reply to  SIGINT EX
September 14, 2014 4:00 pm

And no mention of nuclear power in our future?

September 13, 2014 10:35 am

“We’re missing an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of evolutionary principles in our daily lives.”
So start with “Evolutionary Political Science”. Socialism suffocates innovation. And if you think Global Warming is such a nightmare, then why cut off your ability to invent new ways to adapt and overcome?
Oh I forgot. Your “sciences” are about promoting Socialism, not Science.

September 13, 2014 10:35 am

Just another gravy train. Being tied to the UN “sustainability” agenda makes it no different than the climate agenda. Here, however, are endless opportunities to scare the sheeple – genetics, disease, food and environment. It already is “dire” and we have to act soon. Look out- if the climate scare dies……

Reply to  R2Dtoo
September 13, 2014 2:58 pm

Sheeple?! Cross-breeding humans and sheep would be baaaaaad. But it would be good for a coming ice age.

September 13, 2014 10:42 am

Climate changes will happen, evolutionary changes will happen, without ANY intervention from yet another plethora of fat cat funding.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
September 13, 2014 10:43 am

‘Evolution isn’t just about the past anymore.’
I wasn’t aware that evolution ever stopped?

Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
September 13, 2014 8:16 pm

My thoughts exactly. Unless Darwin said “let there be no more evolution”.

Reply to  Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
September 14, 2014 4:37 pm

And reportedly out of the mouth of an “evolutionary ecologist.” Arrgh.

Jeff L
September 13, 2014 10:43 am

Interesting … Recommending a GMO strategy to cope with climate change. This will not play well with the CAGW crowd who is also generally anti-GMO. Will be interesting to see how the greens deal with this internal conflict of philosophy

Reply to  Jeff L
September 13, 2014 12:07 pm

The “internal conflict of philosophy” is confusing GMO ( engineering ) with evolution.
Man attempting to play God is not “evolution”.

C.M. Carmichael
Reply to  Greg
September 13, 2014 1:53 pm

Developing GMO’s equals playing God? Please supply the link for this.

September 13, 2014 10:53 am

From this idea, I suppose that human race, that lives in the heat of equatorial Africa and the cold of the Arctic Circle, is not evolved enough.

Reply to  oeman50
September 14, 2014 4:08 pm

Yeah, I guess so, but…
We need to make sure it stays on track.
That all that proper evolutionizing is happin’ on schedule.
Yeah, that’s the what we’re sayin’, yeah.
Now did you want that baby born with gills or without?

September 13, 2014 10:57 am

“The age of the Anthropocene–the scientific name given to our current geologic age”
Lie, that is the non-scientific name invented by propagandists. It has not been adopted as the “scientific name” for anything.
And the head of NSF is unaware of what is scientific and what is politics and propaganda? Time for him to step down in favour of someone who follows and understands science.

Reply to  Greg
September 14, 2014 4:09 pm

Damn, you mean I missed the Holocene altogether?

Ralph Kramden
September 13, 2014 11:10 am

Many human-engineered solutions to societal problems have turned out to have a relatively short useful life because evolution finds ways around them”. Is this a reference to fighting global warming after it has ended?

September 13, 2014 11:15 am

Ever since Charles Darwin’s book, “The origin of the species” evolution has been used to justify the social bias de jour, from white supremacy to male supremacy, to evolution of thought, evolution of speech, evolution of social behavior. The argument is: “There is no god, therefore all has congealed by chance, we are all animals anyway.” ……. Continued musings at

BobW in NC
Reply to  lenbilen
September 13, 2014 11:42 am

Thanks, Len – I’m totally in your corner!

Reply to  lenbilen
September 13, 2014 12:03 pm

The nice thing about evolutionary logic is that it’s all hypothesis and speculation. You can always some pseudo-logical argument that arrives at the desired result.

Reply to  Greg
September 13, 2014 12:14 pm

eg the Wet Monkey hypothesis, humans have belly fat because we spent millennia splashing about in waist high water during our “aquatic” phase.
Probably when our dicks shrivelled because, being out of sight, there was no evolutionary driver to favour well endowed males.

Dave Walker
September 13, 2014 11:29 am

The development of gene manipulation has empowered us to “manage” evolution. The game has changed. Our descendents will include GMO babies.

Reply to  Dave Walker
September 13, 2014 12:15 pm

“managed evolution” is not evolution.

C.M. Carmichael
Reply to  Greg
September 13, 2014 1:56 pm

Evolving brains lead to evolving ideas.

Reply to  Dave Walker
September 13, 2014 7:46 pm

Since ancient times, doctors have claimed to have cures for all human ailments. As early as 1750 BC, the Law Code of Hammurabi established some laws for doctors who performed cures, which even included various types of surgery. The doctor was free to practice, and the patients were free to go to doctors, but should the doctor destroy, deform, or kill the patient, then the doctor would suffer the same injury**. This is a variation on “an eye for an eye,” as the saying goes. In the Law of Moses, c. 1450 BC, any one who tried to make a false accusation against another person and was found to be lying, would suffer the exact results he intended to bring upon his neighbor through false witness. That is the “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” law. Let us apply Law to genetic operations.
These geneticists who claim to be able to alter or improve the human form are precisely like any other doctor claiming to have a cure. Before the eyes of the Law, any deleterious effects of their so- called “genetic managements” will be as if a surgeon operated and maimed a patient. And I do believe the intent of “applied evolutionary biology” is to maim and/or eliminate people.
Example: genetically modified humans who are lactose and meat intolerant. This is maiming the human form.
Example: destroying the reproductive capacity of people, whether chemically or surgically. This is maiming the human form.
Don’t get involved with this Transhumanist movement. It is no different than removing body parts or faces.

Reply to  Dave Walker
September 14, 2014 4:12 pm

When that happens, I promise I won’t say anything.

BobW in NC
September 13, 2014 11:29 am

Perfect example of Post-normal science, which is characterized by “‘diversity of opinion’ and impacting‘all public programs and scientific conclusions, [which] must be reflective of input from a variety of legitimate, diverse and thoughtful perspectives.’” http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/04/30/2860925/denrs-new-mission-takes-wrong.html

September 13, 2014 11:37 am

NSF says the best way to deal with a warming climate is to evolve with it.
I am not sure if NFS meant a warming climate or simply climate change but anyway from the idea I get in this article here, is a general claim of evolving with it, the climate so to speak.
From what I understand if I understood the point made, is that while talking about evolving and evolution it seems like the point is totally lost and deluted.
As far as I know, which may not be much, evolving and evolution goes through a set of steps, and an important one is a mutation. The way I see it the mutation is a stage where the applying of given skills and proceses through time and the needd to adapt to the environment and its natural condition leads to a mutation which can be seen as the acquiring of a new attribute and a new sets of skills and processes avaliable with the new attribute for testing.
A mutation either fails or succeedes, depending in the ability to fully employ the new set of skills or processes offered by the new attribute acquiried. Failure means less chance of bettering the survival and prosperity, and more exposure to danger from a changing and evolving environment.
Seen from this angle as far as evolution and climate change concerned, the main subject is and should be the evolution and the evolving of our civilization.
From my angle of view it seems like our civilization already in a mutation period (step).
The old skills and processes employed in full and for a considerable time did brink about the condition of a new attribute acquiried, the attribute of influencing-effecting climate through the processes of increasing the CO2 emissions.
As the attribute means the efficient influence-effect of the climate in harmony with its natural condition, which means also that an efficient process of decreasing of CO2 will be need it at some given time.
A full acquiring of such an attribute requiries the full ability and efficiency to flexibly adapt our CO2 emissions to the climate process and condition by increasing and decreasing that ammount as requiried.
The new set of skills and processes offered seem to be related more with the ability to cut the CO2 emissions while still allowing progress and evolving of our civilization.
While at this stage there seems to be a lot of skills, processes, inovations in technology or otherwise, the point is that the best ones to choose from that long list will be the only very efficient ones that offer the ability too efficiently reduce CO2 emissions. Also a very efficient and correct way to make these choices may be a requirment too.
That what it seems to me the point while evolution, adaption and climate change put together in a context.
Sure, not very likable, as it still points at the anthropogenic CO2 emissions in the angle of been a problem if not able to deal with appropriately and efficiently.
The ” to Evolve with it” still means accepting change and the requiried adaptions to it. Generally evolution is not just a fancy and a relaxing walk in the park…..especially while a civilization considered.

September 13, 2014 11:57 am

“NSF says the best way to deal with a warming climate is to evolve with it”
So, wonder what would be the best way to deal with a cooling climate?
Send funding.

Reply to  JohnWho
September 13, 2014 12:20 pm

the best way to deal with a warming climate is to wait until you find one, then deal with it. That is not a actual problem for humanity at this point in time.
War, disease, world govt, loss of sovereignty, financial collapse, more relevant in the present.

September 13, 2014 12:12 pm

I think I’ll just hold ever more tightly onto my wallet, and wait for the winds to subside.

Mike H.
Reply to  u.k.(us)
September 13, 2014 1:22 pm

Unfortunately the money in your wallet sublimates to gov’t income, no matter how hard you try to freeze it.

Reply to  Mike H.
September 13, 2014 6:49 pm

Who said anything about “money”.

Mike H.
Reply to  Mike H.
September 13, 2014 7:32 pm

Sorry, I thought you did.

September 13, 2014 12:25 pm

I think the world is adapting perfectly –
“Food prices drop to four year low
Thursday 11 September 2014
August saw food prices drop to a four year low, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. FAO’s monthly food price index, which measures the price of a range of staple foodstuffs around the world, reached its lowest level since September 2010”

Reply to  richard
September 13, 2014 1:24 pm

I’m not sure who they are polling, but food prices are at an all time high in my neck of the woods. And didn’t they report that beef, bacon, milk, etc. are skyrocketing in price lately?

Reply to  Ms. Contrarian Scientist
September 14, 2014 4:18 pm

They’re not part of the sample.

September 13, 2014 12:30 pm

It’s always been a source of amusement to me that the people who most are enthralled by the theory of the origin and evolution of species seem determined to prevent that evolution in both our own species and others.

September 13, 2014 12:32 pm

Think I’ll just invest in tropical drinks .

September 13, 2014 12:33 pm

Adaptation is the only way to deal with any climate change, I’ve always held this belief to be true.

September 13, 2014 1:13 pm

There seems to be no comprehension, by these fine scientists, of the irony and contradictions in their world view, which is, if I may summarize:
We, the experts on evolution (and all the world’s problems and solutions), will tell all the other people how to think, using proper “evolutionary thinking”, which we will concoct entirely from our perspective and what we believe is best, . We are very concerned about environmental diversity, but never can there be diversity of opinion on what the proper evolutionary thinking (including the details of our proposed solutions) shall be. And so we will enforce our common and best solutions consistently word-wide.
…..all leading to massive failure due to lack of diversity and the lack of competition required for any successful evolutionary process.

BobW in NC
Reply to  thinair
September 13, 2014 4:20 pm

Hey Thinair – “We, the experts on evolution (and all the world’s problems and solutions), will tell all the other people how to think..”
You’re absolutely on target – your take is called scientism: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-folly-of-scientism

Reply to  thinair
September 14, 2014 4:25 pm

We, the experts on evolution (and all the world’s problems and solutions), will tell all the other people how to think, using proper “evolutionary thinking”, which we will concoct entirely from our models and with our perspective and what we believe is best.
You forgot they use models divine the future so they’ll know how to steer society. First they have to write history.

September 13, 2014 1:18 pm

“Evolution isn’t just about the past anymore, it’s about the present and the future,” said Scott Carroll, an evolutionary ecologist at University of California-Davis and one of the paper’s authors.
I never was about the past. Evolution is always about the future.

C.M. Carmichael
September 13, 2014 1:57 pm

Doesn’t “evolve or die ” apply to all species, all the time?

September 13, 2014 2:27 pm

Do not worry Mother Nature will take care of it.

September 13, 2014 3:20 pm

It’s not evolution. Evolution is a chaotic process. Evolution will result in misaligned development. Progress (i.e. monotonic change) even more so. The principles of evolution describe practices which will increase the likelihood of reaching and maintaining a stable state. The best way to deal with uncertainty is risk management, rational, reasonable, moderated.

more soylent green!
September 13, 2014 4:04 pm

How have species handled crises from day one?* Adapt or die.
Human have an advantage in that we don’t have to wait for our genes to evolve, we can adapt culturally — that includes technologically — to changing circumstances.
*This is not to say we’re in a climate crisis due to AGW or GHG or “carbon pollution,” whatever that is.

Reply to  more soylent green!
September 13, 2014 7:11 pm

We need to remember that species adaptation IS evolution. This is not a process that happens to individuals within a species. Now, we can adapt, by changing our behavior, but that will not help our descendants except that they get born.
The idea that natural ecosystems with low species diversity have low overall diversity is wrong from an evolutionary point of view. In natural ecosystems,there is a lot of diversity within the few species that occupy the ecosystem, and they will use that diversity to adapt as a species to any changes. This is just as true of humans as it is of any other species.
I shudder at the thought that anybody is going to monkey with evolutionary processes–those processes have functioned quite well for the past 3.5 billions years.

Reply to  more soylent green!
September 14, 2014 4:28 pm

I believe Mother Nature has established that evolution works.
We’re at the top of the food chain, what more do you want?

Sun Spot
September 13, 2014 5:10 pm

How did man evolve to survive the last ice age change in climate? I presume the NSF is referring to the coming ice age we should evolve to survive, because there ain’t no AGW climate change happening on the good earth. We will need some serious GMO development to survive the coming glacial period.

Reply to  Sun Spot
September 14, 2014 4:32 pm

Not much adaptation needed for global warming.
Hang up the parka…slip on the wife beater.
Swap the ski-doo for a sea-doo.
Done and done.

September 13, 2014 5:27 pm

I think before we can adapt there has to be a meeting.
With many people with big stomachs.
And no brains.
In a big room.
With plenty of dire warnings.
About not having more meetings.
At the end of each meeting there must be.
A proposal for a big tax.
That goes no-where.
Because it is stupid.
Thats the way evil enviro-loons would do it anyways. What will actually happen though is
Those that do not adapt will fade away.
And those who do adapt will thrive.
Because evolution happens to be happening.
Pretty much all of the time.
Regardless of how many self-important meetings held.

Reply to  Alx
September 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Just throw away the warning labels and watch evolution go.

September 13, 2014 5:51 pm

“Applied evolutionary biology”
Readers know what happens to species that don’t “evolve” and “adapt”: they go extinct. Death is an extremely important component of so-called evolutionary development. And this article is suggesting “applying” evolutionary biology.
This is extremely threatening, violent language.
Since I am a believer, and do not accept evolutionary theory or applied evolution, I will warn you that whatever any one plots and schemes against others, he will do to himself. Do not be deceived…Whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap. It is the Law of Just Recompense.
So don’t plot or scheme to direct extinctions, or take away people’s land or homes or children or possessions, or put them on drugs, or intentionally scare them about technology and crops and cows, or use any other method to trap them in ignorance and poverty.

September 13, 2014 6:21 pm

Here’s the deal. I promise to evolve. In return, I don’t want the kind of juveniles who theorise in potty New Class journals like Science or the Guardian or New Scientist to evolve me. I totally don’t want their “robust and dynamic solutions”, which is just management-speak for “more trillion dollar white elephants”.
Evolving? I’ll do it myself.

September 13, 2014 7:54 pm

Evolution is ateleological and random and that’s still a thousand times better than any U.N. or Euro strategy. OUTSTANDING! !

Pamela Gray
September 14, 2014 7:27 am

I’m sorry but this tome smells. Evolutionary Biology has been tried in the past. Remember? So who says which path is better…and then tries to enforce it? This just seems to be a turd taken from past efforts and is now being polished.
Smells just as bad.

Jim Clarke
September 14, 2014 9:11 am

Evolution was doing a pretty good job of things in a place we now call Yellowstone. A while back, humans decided to try some managed evolution there. As I recall, it was pretty much a disaster.
The benefit of natural evolution, or more specifically, its much quicker component, adaptation, is the ability to respond to the infinite possibilities of change. This is important because the changes that will take place cannot be known completely, and often not at all. This is not only a vital requirement for the survival of the species, it is also the bedrock principle of free markets. In both, it is the ability to respond to unpredictable changes quickly and beneficially that make these methods the best possible choices.
Managed evolution and centralized economic planning will always do more harm than good, because they cannot cope with an unpredictable future. Decisions made under these systems will be inappropriate when the expected future does not come about (which will be most of the time) and the ‘fixes’ will usually be obsolete before they are even implemented, making matters even worse.
Adaptability is first and foremost the function and responsibility of the individual organism. The freedom to choose is the vital component of adaptability.
‘Managed evolution’, by definition, would restrict that freedom.
It is a dangerous tool, to be used very cautiously.

September 15, 2014 8:13 am

A warmer world also drives biodiversity.

Systematics and Biodiversity – Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010
Kathy J. Willis et al
4 °C and beyond: what did this mean for biodiversity in the past?
How do the predicted climatic changes (IPCC, 2007) for the next century compare in magnitude and rate to those that Earth has previously encountered? Are there comparable intervals of rapid rates of temperature change, sea-level rise and levels of atmospheric CO2 that can be used as analogues to assess possible biotic responses to future change? Or are we stepping into the great unknown? This perspective article focuses on intervals in time in the fossil record when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased up to 1200 ppmv, temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4 °C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present. For these intervals in time, case studies of past biotic responses are presented to demonstrate the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity. We argue that although the underlying mechanisms responsible for these past changes in climate were very different (i.e. natural processes rather than anthropogenic), the rates and magnitude of climate change are similar to those predicted for the future and therefore potentially relevant to understanding future biotic response. What emerges from these past records is evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another, but there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world. Based on this evidence from the fossil record, we make four recommendations for future climate-change integrated conservation strategies.
DOI: 10.1080/14772000903495833
Carlos Jaramillo et. al – Science – 12 November 2010
Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation
Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
doi: 10.1126/science.1193833
Carlos Jaramillo & Andrés Cárdenas – Annual Reviews – May 2013
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Global Warming and Neotropical Rainforests: A Historical Perspective
There is concern over the future of the tropical rainforest (TRF) in the face of global warming. Will TRFs collapse? The fossil record can inform us about that. Our compilation of 5,998 empirical estimates of temperature over the past 120 Ma indicates that tropics have warmed as much as 7°C during both the mid-Cretaceous and the Paleogene. We analyzed the paleobotanical record of South America during the Paleogene and found that the TRF did not expand toward temperate latitudes during global warm events, even though temperatures were appropriate for doing so, suggesting that solar insolation can be a constraint on the distribution of the tropical biome. Rather, a novel biome, adapted to temperate latitudes with warm winters, developed south of the tropical zone. The TRF did not collapse during past warmings; on the contrary, its diversity increased. The increase in temperature seems to be a major driver in promoting diversity.
doi: 10.1146/annurev-earth-042711-105403
PNAS – David R. Vieites – 2007
Rapid diversification and dispersal during periods of global warming by plethodontid salamanders
…Salamanders underwent rapid episodes of diversification and dispersal that coincided with major global warming events during the late Cretaceous and again during the Paleocene–Eocene thermal optimum. The major clades of plethodontids were established during these episodes, contemporaneously with similar phenomena in angiosperms, arthropods, birds, and mammals. Periods of global warming may have promoted diversification and both inter- and transcontinental dispersal in northern hemisphere salamanders…
ZHAO Yu-long et al – Advances in Earth Science – 2007
The impacts of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM)event on earth surface cycles and its trigger mechanism
The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) event is an abrupt climate change event that occurred at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. The event led to a sudden reversal in ocean overturning along with an abrupt rise in sea surface salinity (SSSs) and atmospheric humidity. An unusual proliferation of biodiversity and productivity during the PETM is indicative of massive fertility increasing in both oceanic and terrestrial ecosystems. Global warming enabled the dispersal of low-latitude populations into mid-and high-latitude. Biological evolution also exhibited a dramatic pulse of change, including the first appearance of many important groups of ” modern” mammals (such as primates, artiodactyls, and perissodactyls) and the mass extinction of benlhic foraminifera…..
22(4) 341-349 DOI: ISSN: 1001-8166 CN: 62-1091/P

September 15, 2014 3:42 pm

Ive been using this mindset for about a decade to build alternative ag models, with trees as a back bone since I am in the high desert and with “terraforming” methods I can have trees doing well. There is a lot of wisdom in this mindset for many fields. Problem is with all the underlying agendas and biases it is very unlikely we get the real benefits of such mindsets.

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