How the Chemical Age Spun Evolution Out of Control

Lindsay Abrams in AlterNet:

Shutterstock_159809252Hey, creationists, wrap your minds around this: Not only is evolution definitely a thing, it’s happening all around us — and at an incredibly rapid pace. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance, the need for new genetically modified crops after our old herbicides stopped being so effective, the resurgence of bedbugs: these are all examples of what biochemical toxicologist Emily Monosson calls “evolution in the fast lane.”

And despite the opinions of those who don’t like to think that human activity can have a significant, detrimental effect on our planet, they’re proof of just the opposite. We may temporarily gain the upper hand over pests and diseases through our use of chemicals, but eventually they’re all but guaranteed to bounce back, stronger than before. Less intentional still, says Monosson, are the impacts we’re having on larger species: where industrial pollution meets wildlife, frogs, fish and salamanders evolve to survive in their newly toxic environments.

In “ Unnatural Selection,” Monosson discusses the myriad ways in which the chemical age is changing life, and, most importantly, what we can do to slow things down. Part of the challenge, she told Salon, is just understanding that this is evolution we’re seeing — something that not everyone seems to grasp. ”Maybe if we did,” she mused, “we’d realize how important it is to reduce our chemical influence on life.”

More here.