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The imminent Great Global Final Biological Collapse; can reverse gene drives prevent it?

That sounds like an overly alarmist headline, right? So get this: “Hyper alarming’ study shows massive insect loss”. Apparently over the past 20 years insect populations have declined on average 50% and in some cases even higher.

We’re all seeing it. Have you noticed that these days the number of love bugs plastered over your windscreen and headlights at night has also plummeted? These days a jaunt at night doesn’t mean that you must go the carwash next day. That’s not good news, even for love bugs.

So, what happens when animals that eat insects don’t have enough of the critters to eat? I guess their populations decline by 50% or more too. When does that hit us human animals? 5 years? 2 years? Now?

Check out this, if you need any more evidence: “Living Planet report: 60 percent of animal populations gone since 1970”. If we’re down 50-60% now, what will be down to in another 10 years? 70%? 80%? When do we get to 99%? 2030? What then?

In thinking about this, other collapses come to mind. I’m sure you’ve heard of ther animal populations that are down 80% in many areas of the world. What about the collapse of frog populations worldwide? Or endangered species like lions, tiger and werewolves (sorry, its Halloween).

You might have heard that sperm counts are plummeting in human men. I suppose that counts me in too. So that’s another collapse. When does that result in the collapse of human populations?

Much of the biological collapse is obscured by the massive numbers of farm animals. Of course, they are not collapsing because we need something to eat. So, it looks like anything we don’t eat, no matter how big or small, is going to collapse too.

We can talk about causes but I think its pretty specious. There are numerous causes of which only one is climate change and it almost certainly isn’t the main cause. How about industrial chemicals which impact animal metabolisms, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and all the other many -icides out there?

So, it’s a lost cause to try to do anything about it by banning chemicals, drugs and so on. We’re way too far gone. The global collapse of biology is well underway and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re probably in the last mile as we speak.

So how about gene drives? What the $%&# are they I hear you ask? Basically, they are genetic engineering techniques used mainly to curb or even eliminate wild animal or plant populations that we humans don’t want. Isn’t that the opposite of what we need? Wouldn’t gene drives be part of the problem? Yep. So how about we use reverse gene drives? Piece of cake, right?

Why can’t we use gene drives to reverse animal and population declines using creative techniques that address the problem that we don’t know the precise causes of the decline of any population?

So how do we do that, you ask? Another piece of cake. We use AI.

If we can use stuff like deep learning, neural nets, genetic algorithms and other more advanced super-trivia to improve our military readiness, defeat our cyber-foes, and create new types of designer drugs, why can’t we use the self-same approaches to save the suffering fauna and flora in our midst? Could the answer be new ways to transform population dynamics for all species, including insects?

 And humans?

It seems to me that there’s far too much talk about the deleterious effects of climate change (which, ok are nonetheless real) and not enough about global biological systems rapidly shutting down. That shutdown isn’t happening in geological time, like it used to. It’s now accelerating in real time and we can see its effects within the same generation, let along between them.

Of course, it’s much harder to see global biological collapse since this requires a super-altitudinal bird’s eye view and like most humans we have a very limited worms-eye view. That’s why I Think we need AI on the case. Humans aren’t smart enough to see patterns in these global population dynamics; there’s too many variables.

Time for genetic engineering and AI to earn their keep methinks. Before gene drives and AI too disappear along with their so-called human masters.











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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

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