In late 2020, Coronavirus mutated into more virulent versions in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. This discovery thrust the science of evolutionary biology into the news. It also provides a timely reminder that evolution is active in all life at all times.
Evolution is active in all life at all times. If it’s active in a virus, it’s active in you.
In an article titled Coronavirus is evolving, Laura Spinney examines the disparity in Covid-19 death rates between Norway and Sweden:
“The explanation for this startling gap may lie partly in natural selection, and the biological arms race between a pathogen and its host. Within any population, there is genetic variation. Viruses are no different. Some versions of the virus will be very slightly more dangerous to human health – more virulent – others less so.”
“What evolution’s all about”
“Once you start to introduce a vaccine, there’s selective pressure on the virus to try to find a way to get around it and persist, because that’s what evolution’s all about.”
This is all factual biology. We’re engaged in a “biological arms race” with the virus. Our weapons, to date, are lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and vaccines of increasingly uncertain effectiveness in the face of the rapidly mutating virus.
What is the virus’ weapon? Evolution.
Are we mutating to beat the virus? No.
And right now, it’s beating us hands down. That leads to a sense of powerlessness.
The mantra of “follow the science” results in a personal passivity in the face of the virus, an assumption that technology is our only recourse for a long-term solution.
Evolution is active at all times
What if a more effective measure than lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and vaccines existed? What if we fought fire with fire? We upped the stakes for the virus? What if we exerted “selective pressure” on it through our own evolution?
If Darwin’s assertion that evolution happens at the individual level is correct, which it appears to be, then evolution must be active in all life at all times. It’s the only way that individual-level evolution can happen. That means the processes of evolution are living and active inside you.
Why aren’t we using evolution to counter evolution?
I’m talking about personal conscious evolution. I’m talking about identifying the parts of our lives that cause difficulties, distress and anxiety—and evolving beyond them.
The more we do this, the more we improve our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The more we do that, the less we turn to anaesthetics like alcohol, cigarettes and poor diets to numb ourselves to our internal messages of distress.
Personal evolution is available to you right now, costs nothing, and has no side-effects. (Okay, I lied about the last one. When our wounded aspects surface, they hurt—but the permanently improved sense of resilience more than compensates.)
Improved resilience translates into decreased stress on our immune system. This is, ultimately, our primary defence not just against Covid-19 but all viruses and illnesses.
In recent months I’ve changed my diet and changed to a standing desk to be more active. I’m proactively mutating into a new, more resilient version of myself. Covid passed through my household over Christmas with barely a ripple. I can’t claim in any scientifically valid way that the changes I made helped. Yet I can state without a doubt that I feel in control of my personal “biological arms race” with the virus and have no anxiety about it.
Evolution is active in all life at all times. If it’s active in a virus, it’s active in you. Physicist Albert Einstein wrote that, “Problems cannot be solved at the level of thinking that created them.” Covid-19 is constantly evolving to its next level. If you want help to jump-start your own evolution, check out my Evolutionary Problem Solver toolkit.