My favorite Torgerson has been matched by that guy in the back ("Evolution Isn't Progress," Dec. 18, 2019). "Evolution is a random process!" Ha ha ha! Convergent evolution should convince Barry that the great vector of evolution is available energy. True, it's not exactly linear. But it drives it all anyhow and it ain't random. Here's how some of those science guys say it:
Linda Phillips et al., 2010: "Ecosystem energy is now recognized as a primary correlate and potential driver of global patterns of species richness."
Paleobiologist Geerat Vermeij: Phanerozoic revolutions, that is, the major explosions of life, always are associated with an increase in environmental productivity, and the history of life always is influenced at all spatial and temporal scales by resources and the supply and demand that apply to them.
Biologist James Gillooly: There is a universal biological clock, "but it ticks in units of energy, not units of time."
But I agree it isn't progress. Those who believe in progress are worshiping a hidden ogre. Yeah, flights to Maui are destroying the Earth. Consumerism is a death kick. Albert Schweitzer: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and forestall. He will end by destroying the Earth." Get out of the middle class daydream before it's too late!
Robert Sutherland, Ettersburg
Chip Sharpe (Mailbox, Jan. 2) rightly objects to my cavalier use of the shorthand phrase "survival of the fittest" in my discussion of evolution by natural selection ("Evolution Isn't Progress," Dec. 18, 2019).
One aspect of "fittest" might be "having heritable characteristics that most efficiently promote mutual aid," since the vast majority of animal species live in societies where cooperation is more important than competition.
Google "Peter Kropotkin" for more on this on-going debate.
Barry Evans, Eureka