It started sixty thousand years ago.
A small tribe of humans began to work together to hunt, knapping flint into arrowheads. Over time, their numbers increased. These were your ancestors. They moved out of Africa and new generations went in search of herds to follow. This is how the slow expansion of humans began. Over the millennia they colonised every continent, becoming the world’s dominant species.
Your genetic code adapted down those generations. Through natural selection, certain traits survived, others did not, creating subtle shifts in the gene pool, making you the person you are today.
But over and over again, your ancestors’ success caused problems. As populations rose, damage to local environments increased. Too many trees were felled, depleting the soils. Nature’s balance was disrupted and creatures seemingly infinite in number were driven to extinction. Over and over again, cultures collapsed as they exhausted their resources. Each failure was all too predictable, all too preventable, a simple repetition of what went before; yet your ancestors did not learn, did not choose to remember.
Humanity’s growth continues. The world’s population increases by two hundred and thirty five thousand every day. You are one of almost seven billion people alive, a number set to rise to over nine billion by 2050.
Gene (jeen): a portion of a DNA molecule that serves as the basic unit of heredity. Genes control the characteristics offspring will have by transmitting information on short sections of DNA.
Meme (meem): a cultural item or message transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.