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Save Mankind with Neolithic Park

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright December 2004

A point I made in another article is that mankind is now evolving to become better adapted to fit in the ecological niche he himself has created: The niche of "civilized man".

Like some other species throughout the history of the earth, mankind has discovered how to significantly alter his environment to make it more favorable to himself. This means mankind is a boom species. Other famous examples of boom species are corals, who make giant coral reefs, and pine trees, which make large spans of pine forest by acidifying the soil. Mankind is making the world civilized, and in so doing, is "booming" and controlling a larger and larger percentage of the biosphere. In the short-term this is great!

Mankind is not the first species to "boom", and it won't be the last, but it is important to understand the consequences of being a boom species. The consequence I will talk about in this essay is that mankind is no longer evolving to be well adapted to an "average" environment, by which I mean a non-mankind-influenced environment (which I will call a "pristine environment"). He is, instead, evolving to be well adapted to a mankind-influenced environment (which I will call a "civilized environment"), and as mankind becomes more civilized, this civilized environment will drift further and further from a pristine environment.

This means that over time, mankind will come to depend more and more upon civilization to survive at all. This means that at some point in the future, say five or ten generations from now, if civilization collapses and disappears, mankind will suffer mightily and could go extinct.

One example of how civilization is affecting humanity's gene pool is human head size at birth. I covered this in the last chapter. Another example is wearing shoes. Human feet are becoming well adapted to shoe wearing, and well-fitted shoe wearing at that. Should civilization collapse, the feet coverings available to humans will be much less comfortable and protective, and human mobility will suffer. This is another example of humans adapting to their environment. Humanity will have become adapted to the civilized ecological niche, not the pristine ecological niche. This is just one other example of many.

Developing Gene Pool Insurance

Science and science fiction writers have given a lot of bandwidth to discussions of being prepared in case an asteroid strikes Earth. But asteroid strikes are just one of thousands of ways the Earth's ecology, and mankind's civilization, could be disrupted. I propose a massive disaster insurance program that's more general-purpose in its coverage. I propose that we set up a program to protect a Homo Sapiens gene pool that is well adapted to living in Earth environments that are not civilized. I propose {drumroll please}: Neolithic Park.

Please note again, what I’m talking about protecting against is a civilization-collapsing catastrophe. It’s a big one! It’s the post-Holocaust setting that is so popular in science fiction and video games. It’s so big that human ingenuity can’t restore modern civilization for at least a couple of generations.

Neolithic Park

The goal of Neolithic Park is to preserve human gene pools that thrive in non-civilized environments. Again, this is an insurance program, just like seed banks just like flood insurance. In this insurance program, we are insuring that there are human beings living on Earth, in various places, who will survive handily if civilization collapses for any reason.

In some ways, this program will be easy to implement: We already have people living successfully in near-Neolithic conditions in many remote parts of the world. In other ways, it will be very difficult: It is the emotional impulse of many civilized people to view someone living in uncivilized conditions as someone who needs help. If a program is set up with the goal of intentionally keeping people living in such barbaric conditions, it will be criticized for many reasons. In fact, dealing with criticism of the park's methods will be the most challenging part of making this program work.

Park Parameters

The following are what the park must accomplish:

• Human beings should be living in self-sufficient, pre-civilized communities. The important feature is that these communities be self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is the only way to insure that the gene pool of the members is really well matched to the ecological niche these people are living in. The touchiest part is likely to be medical care. Since we are talking about survival genes, it is most important that these people be able to survive without external medical care. If the people living in these communities can develop "folk" antibiotics, that's fine. They can be used because they don't require civilization to produce. But it's very important not to be sending doctors, nurses, medicines, or even medical advice to help these people for humanitarian reasons. If these people are helped through frost, famine, plague, or any other natural disaster, the helping defeats the purpose of keeping a gene pool that is well adapted to the natural environment these people live in.

• There should be a thousand of such communities, and they should be well dispersed geographically and environmentally. A civilization-collapsing catastrophe is almost by definition going to be sudden and a surprise, so it's unlikely there will be time or resources to move these "insurance people" around after the catastrophe becomes evident. For the same reason, keeping these people in cryogenic tanks or as "DNA to be grown in case of crisis" won't work as a humanitarian substitute for letting them live barbaric lives. These people have to be alive, and thriving in their environment, at the time the crisis strikes.

Civilized people cannot move freely into and out of these parks. There is too much potential for contamination and distraction. If people are smuggling goods into the parks, then the environment is no longer pristine. If people are commuting (leaving and returning regularly), they are not living in a pristine environment, either. There can be access: There can be volunteers who choose to spend their lives in the parks and "have their genes face the wilderness", and there can be selected sons and daughters who are raised outside the park after they are born, but the mixing must be limited.

The End of Neolithic Park

The parks will not be necessary once mankind has thriving, self-sufficient colonies located in other parts of the solar system and on other star systems. These other places will then offer protection for humanity's gene pool and civilization survival when a global catastrophe strikes Earth. Earth may die, but humanity will not.


Mankind is now in the process of evolving a gene mix well suited to civilization. In the process, he is losing the mix of genes that is well-suited to living in a non-civilized environment. Mankind is not the first species to have discovered how to positively feedback with the environment. Other species that have discovered how to do this have first "boomed", then seriously "busted" when the environment changed to something they could not have positive feedback with. The bust often meant extinction for the species.

If mankind is to avoid a species-extincting bust when a civilization-breaking catastrophe strikes, he must have some species members that have been steadily coexisting with pristine ecological niches. These humans can then lead the human recovery after the catastrophe. One way to maintain a mix of such humans is to maintain Neolithic Parks.

(Note: This concept shows up in my story Child Champs: Babymaking in the World of 2112.)

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