Gonorrhea. Bed bugs. Weeds. Salamanders. People. All are evolving, some surprisingly rapidly, in response to our chemical age. In Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, Emily Monosson shows how our drugs, pesticides, and pollution are exerting intense selection pressure on all manner of species. And we humans might not like the result.
Monosson reveals that the very code of life is more fluid than once imagined. When our powerful chemicals put the pressure on to evolve or die, beneficial traits can sweep rapidly through a population. Species with explosive population growth—the bugs, bacteria, and weeds—tend to thrive, while bigger, slower-to-reproduce creatures, like ourselves, are more likely to succumb.