The Future of Nature


Our effect on the planet is so vast, we will show up in future fossil records as a new geological era, the Anthropocene.

Driving Forces

When thinking about change, it is often useful to uncover the possible driving forces of change. What are the driving forces of change in nature?

  • Climate change
  • Industrialization
  • Farming
  • Animal domestication, fishing and poaching
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Carbon Sinks
  • Bioengineering
  • Urbanization and migration
  • Limits on arable land being approached (at 80%)
  • Topsoil erosion
  • Phosphorus runnoff, possible Peak Phosphorus.




From Wikipedia:

Localised climate change is the favoured explanation for the origins of agriculture in the Levant. When major climate change took place after the last ice age (c. 11,000 BC), much of the earth became subject to long dry seasons. These conditions favoured annual plants which die off in the long dry season, leaving a dormant seed or tuber. An abundance of readily storable wild grains and pulses enabled hunter-gatherers in some areas to form the first settled villages at this time.

Animal Domestication, Fishing and Poaching

China’s demand for ivory is fueling a rush to dig mammoths out of Siberian permafrost.

Wooly Rhino skull in Siberia

Ocean Acidification

  • Coral Bleaching
  • Jellyfish

Gardening Nature

  • Coral farming
  • GMO American Chestnut

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics have augmented our immune system, saving millions of lives. Due to evolutionary selection, they also engineer the microbiome around us. We’ve unwittingly escalated hostilities in a microbial arms race. We need to find new ways to outwhit (and work with) our tiny adversaries.

  • Great Plate Count Anomaly: our view of the microbial world is a narrow sliver. Less than 1% of microbes are cultivatable using traditional means. This makes most microbes hard to study.
  • iChip is a new method of culturing bacteria within their natural medium (soil).






Some interesting avenues to explore:

  • What was your childhood relationship to nature?
  • The opposite of nature is impossible. (Buckminster Fuller)
  • That which is creative must create itself. (Keats)

Ecosystems settle into dynamic equilibrium, fueled by evolutionary pressure. Evolution is a property of any system that has:

  1. Mutability
  2. Inheritance
  3. Selective Pressure

How can we design with evolutionary pressure?

Borrowing from from TFTF, what would happen to Nature in these future arcs?

  • Collapse: a kind of future in which life as we know it is falling apart.
  • Grow: a kind of future in which everything keeps climbing: population, production, consumption…
  • Discipline: a kind of future in where things are carefully managed by concerted coordination.
  • Transform: a kind of future in which a profound historical transition has occurred (spiritual, technological, …).

How will these changes affect fundamental needs?

  • Updated
    Sep 12, 2016