[…] The global challenges we face are linked to human behavior and our ability to understand the stresses we are imposing on the planet as populations grow and nations develop. The health of the oceans, for example, is related to national and international regulation of commercial fishing, to scientists’ understanding of biodiversity, and to our shared management of toxins that pollute the seas. None of the global challenges we face can be viewed as a single point on a linear path. Ice melting in the Arctic as a consequence of global warming is a tremendous problem, but at the same time, melting does allow for increased navigational possibilities and opens up new areas for exploration and extraction. In turn, transit and exploitation lead to potential new problems in an area of delicate ecosystems. We must be wise enough to not only follow but also to anticipate change.
These problems are interrelated, and solutions require international cooperation and agreement. The industrial pollution that is emitted from one region drifts over other regions, affecting other countries. The black carbon from urban areas comes to rest on snow-capped peaks and glaciers, leading to more rapid melting. The virus that appears in one community will move quickly through the world’s population, as we have become a global community of travelers. […]
Evolution is based on a fierce competition between individuals and should therefore reward only selfish behavior. Every gene, every cell, and every organism should be de- signed to promote its own evolutionary success at the expense of its competitors. Yet we ob- serve cooperation on many levels of biolog- ical organization. Genes cooperate in genomes. Chromosomes cooperate in eukaryotic cells. Cells cooperate in multicellular organisms. There are many examples of cooperation among ani- mals. Humans are the champions of cooperation: From hunter-gatherer societies to nation-states, cooperation is the decisive organizing principle of human society. No other life form on Earth is engaged in the same complex games of cooper- ation and defection. The question of how natural selection can lead to cooperative behavior has fascinated evolutionary biologists for several decades."