A Hybrid is Born
While you were reading the New York Times on Break Through, you may have noticed the article about how the Great Lakes wolf has hybridized into a new species. The article describes how human habitat destruction, followed by protection created conditions for the Great Lakes gray wolf to cross breed with other wolves and coyotes. Based on DNA analysis the "pure" wolf has effectively become extinct.
Commentators from both the right and left have raised dire warnings about the threat of biotechnology on the human and natural condition. Consider Francis Fukuyama's assertion that the most significant threat posed by contemporary biotechnology is the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a "posthuman" stage of history.
These commentators engage in genetic exceptionalism suggesting that technologies that enable us to examine life at the DNA level are destine to alter nature as we know it. The irony here is that the nature we know is the product of dramatic alteration resulting from human intervention. Our current industrial technology is the greatest culprit rapidly altering ourselves and the planet at the most basic chemical level.
Biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and the host of post-industrial innovations represent a welcome alternative this petro/carbon-centric system that is a central source of our political and ecological ills. As I have indicted previously this is not to suggest we should not remain vigilant about the implications from the diffusion of modern technologies, we must. Suggesting technology is threat to the "natural condition," however, is a distraction at a time when we need to innovate ourselves out of a set of destructive technologies that are at the center of the ecological crisis we face. The wolfe story is simply one more example of how humans have become the meaning of the earth so lets move on.