Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Will there be Blood?

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Will there be Blood?

The film "There will be Blood" (review at is compelling viewing and should perhaps be compulsory viewing for anyone trying to shape a balanced world. Yes, we know that competition is fundamental to evolution, and that it's a very selfish genome. But over time some characteristics have become part of different species evolutionary success, and they include cooperation, care and even apparent altruism. Will our own species draw on these as competition for finite resources becomes critical, or will there indeed be blood?

In a mesmerizing and exhausting performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, his ultra-competitive character is self aware, manipulative and ruthless. Gradually closing windows into a world of other human emotions, he strips himself down to the competitive core and its need to destroy any perceived challenger.

Before I descend into unfamiliar pessimism, a question for captains of this the only way to succeed in business, or am I naive in thinking that even in the corporate sector there is increasingly a need for cooperation in this globalised world? And what about politics...the United Nations, European Union, African Union, Association of South East Asian Nations.....are they the way of the future, hopelessly optimistic alliances befuddled by bureaucracy, or competition writ large?

That gremlin on my shoulder is whispering..."Rwanda, Kenya, Kosovo, Ireland..... ". Scratch the surface of nationalism and there is a rapid descent to tribal competition for access to resources. Cheer me up somebody, please!


martin said...

This won't do much to cheer you up, but I feel the situation in the world at present is extremely precarious. Like you say, we only have to look at what's been going on in Kenya to see how quickly human beings can revert back to their primitive tribal ways - brutally killing others purely based on what tribe they “belong” to. What therefore happens when global resources are seriously scarce (for whatever reason, be it a changing climate, a freak natural disaster or just plain human greed)? Will we all club together in a world already so divided by religion, politics, race... tribal orientation...?? I would love to think so, but for someone who is usually an optimist I do fear for humanity.

Let's just hope that this added pressure of resource deficiency is not one we have to deal with any time soon, and we should keep working on better distributing these resources throughout our species. The opening of the Doomsday vault in Svalbard this week ( encouraging or slightly worrying? Perhaps both. I suppose at least it's a sign of some form of altruism.

bio said...

Really sets the imagination running, doesn't it? Picture the scene:

Baldrick the Vth leads a 22nd Century work party to the permafrost to seek the fabled "Seeds of Success". Descendents of the few humans who survived by also living underground, the explorers are supremely intelligent but physically stunted, and it takes them a while to navigate their solar powered, all-terrain vehicles to the site. They cross deserts, more deserts, yet more barren deserts, dry mountain ranges and oodles of oceans (the vehicles can walk on water too) and finally arrive at the postcode programmed into their Tom Tom. They are hungry as it is ages since they ate their last dessicated nematode ration pack.

"Damn" says Baldrick Vth. "I feel as wretched as a 21st Century conservationist trying to prove the value of biodiversity to a sceptical, materialist, ostrich-like population of 6.5 billion". He turns to his companions and raises his eybrows skywards....."what were they thinking?" Stooping (not far) to pick up the note pinned to the trapdoor, he winced. "Ha" it read, "the last polar bear with seeds on the side - delicious. Have turned off the lights and are off to digest... we may be some time".