Maladaptive Adaptation; Adaptive Adaptation

We humans have shown ourselves to be a highly adaptable species. Unfortunately, as we industrialized, more and more of our adaptations have become based on chemicals and large mechanized equipment that have turned out to be deadly to other species and to ecosystems. We are now waking up to the reality that we can’t afford this.

Examples of maladaptive adaptations:

For dealing with mosquitoes (or other insects): blitzing an entire yard or community with chemicals — which then kill off the dragonflies, frogs, birds, and other natural predators of mosquitoes. Meanwhile some mosquitoes themselves inevitably survive the spraying, and continue breeding but without the predators to keep them in check.

For dealing with power outages: Each household cranking up a gas generator to power its appliances and stuff. (Maladaptive because, for example, fuel supplies can be disrupted; because it’s dangerous to keep containers of gasoline sitting around; because gas generators create noise and air pollution; and because it fosters individualism rather than community spirit.)

What other maladaptive adaptations can you think of?

Examples of adaptive adaptations:

For mosquitoes: Nurturing healthy ecosystems which offer natural “pest” control. Relying on screen doors, screened porches, mosquito netting, “mosquito clothes” (light-colored, lightweight pants and long-sleeved shirts).

For power outages: Learning how to do without electricity so it’s not a big deal when the power goes out. Eating up the food in your freezer when you hear a hurricane’s coming in the next few days. Neighbors teaming up to cook and share food throughout the neighborhood. Setting up ONE generator for everyone in the neighborhood to charge their phones. Sharing matches, oil lamps, candles, hand-cranked lanterns.

What other adaptive adaptations can you think of?