Nigel Cohen
4 min readAug 19, 2022

Tailoring our evolution to oblivion

Photo Art: Nigel Cohen, Model: Sarah T. Cohen

This is my first foray into surrealism. It is in my gallery that is in the genre of morally-explicit art.

Engineering Our Evolution

We humans acquired such high intelligence that we have been able to engineer and speed our evolution. Without it, we have to rely on nature to weed out the part of our population that is least adapted to our environment. With it, we can improve our outcomes. Antibiotics and antivirals kill off infections. Bicycles and cars make us quicker. We can fly with aeroplanes. Medium lets me speak to you directly, even if we have never even met.

Yet there is one aspect of the limitations of our biological evolution we have not managed to redress — short-termism. Our brains are not able to balance long-term costs with short-term gains. This is why smokers find it so hard to give up smoking. It is so difficult to take account of the risk and the associated agony of lung cancer in years to come when we can puff away the immediate cravings of our nicotine addictions.

We are reaching the same point in society — except the long-term agonies have already started to arrive.

Global Warming

Our scientists and politicians have thrilled with the breathtaking pace of a technical revolution that burst into life around 200 years ago. Because the next advance is based on previous advances, technological growth has become exponential.

It has been built around our ability to extract energy from fossil fuels in quantities that are difficult to get our heads around. We emit around 100 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every day. And remember that CO2 is a gas so a litre of CO2 weights only a fraction of a litre of water. At these rates, it is no wonder that the earth is starting to choke.

Our politicians are largely driven by short-term gain. In autocracies, leaders are focused almost entirely on their personal power base. This puts the vast majority of the population at a disadvantage, with almost no influence on leaders who have a short-term focus on retaining power. In democracies, leaders are influenced by voters. Since democracy is a scale ranging from pure autocracy to pure representation, the higher each country lays on the democratic scale, the greater the influence of its population.

Here is the issue.

Our short-termism means we put far too much focus on what we lose now compared to what we will gain in the future. It is so clear we need to switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy. But there are too many people in power who are too driven by the immediate costs of building the infrastructure we need.

The Volcano

The art shows the impact of our short-termism on our world. Our brains are intact, but our bodies have become fossilised, entombed by the lava we spit out when pursuing our consumerist desire for instant gratification, without any regard for the cost. Our bodies and souls become so constrained by social expectations that we no longer live as our authentic selves. It gnaws invisibly at our mental health. The constraints and barriers are unconscious, ever-growing, hidden beneath the ever-rising sea levels. The smoke warms the earth and chokes us — both physically with a poor quality air and metaphorically through drought, flooding, fires and any number of climate-related changes. With global warming comes rising tides. As the sea levels rise, the water kills off nature that grows on the land. This applies both physically, with some of the low-lying islands and towns being literally submerged by rising seas, and metaphorically as drought and higher temperatures have already started ravaging our water supplies and our ability to grow enough food for our growing global population.

The Rising Tide of MEvolution represents the impact of our excessive focus on Me and the disastrous effect is having on the outcomes of the evolution we have engineered that determine our future destiny. It is not too late for us to redirect our cultures to remove the excessively self-interested cancers that eat away at our metaphorical hearts and lungs.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy my website which brings to life a vision of the people we live with and the world we live in. And to see more of my morally-explicit Photo Art, check out the Photo Art gallery on

And if you are an artist seeking to influence the world, you may want to explore whether to incorporate the emerging genre of Morally-Explicit Art as part of your artistic expression.