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Noospheric Reality


A specialist of the Vavilov Institute of Natural History and Engineering, Russian Academy of Sciences, A.G. Nazarov has considered Vernadsky’s famous concept on biosphere transmutation into noosphere ("sphere of human thought") from the ecological point of view and has come to the conclusion that noospheric reconstruction of biosphere has no prospects and is unreal.

V.I.Vernadsky had no time to develop himself an integral doctrine about noosphere. In the 20s of the last century he still considered human activity as a force alien to biosphere, but 15 to 20 years later he put forward an idea of biosphere’s “transmutation”, “transition” into noosphere. V.I.Vernadsky had in view that human beings would undertake control and government of all global processes of substance and energy exchange, but he did not point out how specifically all this would happen. Vernadsky believed that one of important prerequisites for noosphere formation was “complete populating of biosphere by human beings”, and the main indications of imminent transition was extinction of multiple species of wild animals and plants, as well as amelioration of vast areas. Nowadays, these changes that made the scientist so glad have grown up to reach the scope of global ecological crisis. Noospheric reality – this is the destruction of our natural habitat. Nevertheless, hundreds of scientists, followers of Vernadsky, hope that his theory will permit to overcome the current ecological crisis.

Relationship between noospheric doctrine and ecology are not simple in general. Vernadsky did not virtually refer to ecologists in his works, and ecologists do not practically discuss now the idea of biosphere turning into noosphere. In A.G. Nazarov’s opinion, “transmutation” of biosphere is not possible even theoretically. To manage all biospheric processes, mankind should control their information flows. But a single bacterium lets pass through itself as much information as a contemporary PC does. The total amount of such cells on the Earth makes 10 in the 28th power. That is 20 times higher that the number of people on the planet and 22 times more than the number of computers available. It is beyond mankind’s power to cope with the information gap of such extent.

So, entire biosphere is beyond human control, but human beings will probably be able to govern some part of it. Now, human beings control only several dozens of domestic animal species and about 300 species of cultivated plants. However, artificial communities (agrocoenoses) created by human beings are very simplified and therefore are unable to perform autoregulation. Agrocoenoses ruin natural ecosustems surrounding them, significantly yielding in productivity (sometimes by several times). Reclaimed meadows demonstrate the highest productivity – 22.4 tons per hectare, and taiga’s productivity is 400. Agrocoenoses cannot exist without fertilizers and pesticides that contaminate both environment and the harvest itself.

Mankind is unable to cope with vermin, weeds, pathogens, ecosystem degradation. It is unable to do away with wastes: even partial elimination of wastes requires enormous expenses and energy consumption. Complete wastelessness is impossible for the same reasons. The social evolution rate together with all its destroying impacts on biosphere is 3 to 5 times higher than the biological evolution rate, this excluding possibility for any adaptation of biosphere to man-caused changes. Therefore, adaptatin in the “nature-society” system is possible only in case if mankind accommodates itself to the laws of biosphere and strictly adheres to them. However, for the time being man and nature are in state of war, and we are now witnessing biosphere’s attempts to “discard” man through new diseases, genetic and mental disorders as the most hazardous organism.

In A.G. Nazarov’s opinion, it is necessary to control not biosphere but “noospheroegenesis”, i.e. to implement only comprehensively justified actions, which lessen acuteness of contradictions between nature and society. Such co-adaptation strategy as regards to biosphere may and should include reduction of the Earth’s population, limitation of consumption, formation of new biospheric education, which fully contradicts to Vernadsky’s main ideas. However, these measures can (according to estimates of the Roman Club members) decrease antropogenic burden on biosphere by 1,000 times and more. Carrying out of such strategy would not at all infringe upon human rights and personal liberty, as it is aimed at ensuring the highest human right to live and at improving quality of life. Provided this strategy is adopted, the “age of noosphere” may only be welcomed at least as unrealizable, but alluring goal, inspiring hope for longer mankind’s survival.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
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