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SpideySense's avatar

Could natural selection, science or God, bring forth a new reality for life (Details Inside)?

Asked by SpideySense (207 points ) August 6th, 2012

If humans could one day live like plants and get energy directly from the sun, water, and air, with little additions of matter (like soil), then could the problem of starvation and the raising of animals for slaughter disappear?

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15 Answers

fremen_warrior's avatar

It’s like asking if were we to discover a limitless, easy to access power source, would we develop interstellar travel. The answer is: perhaps.

It all depends on the people’s will to change, and people generally tend to resist change.

serenade's avatar

The film “Eat the Sun” might interest you.

Rarebear's avatar

The question as you pose it would take a god.

athenasgriffin's avatar

No, human nature wouldn’t change. We don’t kill animals because we need to. We do it because we like to. And as it is we have enough food production to feed the whole world, but it is unevenly distributed. We would find a way to limit some people’s consumption of sun, water, and air and give others far more than they need.

gailcalled's avatar

Anything is possible; your suggestions are very unlikely.

ragingloli's avatar

Photosynthesis could be an addition to regular energy sources, lowering consumption thereof, but it could never fully replace traditional food or even supply the majority of the energy demands of the ape body. It just consumes too much energy, even by just maintaining its constant body temperature of 37 degrees.
Just think about the huge amount of leaves a tree has, and what the tree does not do.
It does not move around, it does not think, or talk and it is only as warm as its environment.
An almost completely passive existence.

_Whitetigress's avatar

The reason we are what we are is because we are a far more complex bio system than that of plants. Protein is definitely required, along side many various minerals and vitamins. But the OP is, “If humans could one day live like plants and get energy directly from the sun, water, and air, with little additions of matter (like soil), then could the problem of starvation and the raising of animals for slaughter disappear?”

Sure, yes, if we could live like plants raising animals for slaughter would disappear, but we would probably starve for fresh water environments.

XOIIO's avatar

We are currently the dominate species because we are best adapted to the enviroment we live in. Any deviation that large would only result in sooner extinction.

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LuckyGuy's avatar

@ragingloli has it right. The typical human burns about 100 watts 24 hours per day.
Depending upon where you live, the typical peak sun load is about 1000 watts per square meter. Photosynthesis is notoriously inefficient – typically in the 2–4% range. To get the 100 Watts, we need an exposed surface are of: 100watts * meter/1000watts /0.03 = ~3 sq m. and that would increase our heat loss thus increasing our energy demand. Note, the 1000 watt/sq m is for bright sunlight. At night, in the dark, it is zero. Indoors it is much lower.
Even though it is not efficient you know someone will try it.
I don’t believe it would take a god to to it. the work will be done by some clever research organization engaged in genetic engineering. They have already produced “glow bunnies” by taking jelly fish genes and introducing them into rabbits and cats. In the future someone will probably insert chloroplast genes into cows to reduce the amount of grain they eat.
They will be marketed as “Green Cows” Remember, you saw it here first.

Personally I think the microorganism Euglena has the right idea. It eats other organisms and has chloroplasts.

PhiNotPi's avatar

One more thing to take into account is the conservation of mass. In order to grow, we must consume food, simply in order to get the raw materials needed to survive, not just for the energy content.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

The slaughtering of animals (game) would not stop but potentially decrease in prcentage.

Speaking hypothetically, because the idea isn’t as probable as som here suggest as that type of survival would surely result in the extinction of our race.

If your suggestion were true then humans would be very different, both inside and out and we’d basically be reduced to plant like creatures- Technically our organs would not function similarly, if they even existed at all and the brain would be deeply deprived (again if existent at all) That being said it its questionable if we would even possess the amount of consciousness and intellect that established us as the superior race.

psyonicpanda's avatar

Natural selection is one of my favorite theories because it touches on the basis of if a specimen has some sort of genetic alteration that allows it to survive in and enviornment that its predecessors could not then that is the variation of the species that survives. Your question is a good one but you have to vivisect the question itsself to determine a good answer. First off if the human race has to “evolve” enought to use photosynthesis that you could only assume that the rest of the animal kingdom would have to do the same or else it would not survive. And it hit happen to come about that way then there would be no use for them. Every surviveable human would essentially be a plant. So the only thing we might have to worry about is the over population of animals.

Paradox25's avatar

I honestly believe that our mindset determines how we will evolve, not the other way around. If we become enlightened than we will evolve in that direction, but if we continue to embrace violence and negative behaviors towards our enviroment, animals and other people than our bodies (including our brains) will gradually, but inevitably evolve in a manner to tolerate and perpetuate those kinds of things. I really do think that our freewill determines how we will evolve.

mattbrowne's avatar

Human beings need a lot of energy during the night. The surface of a human being plastered with chlorophyll would not be large enough to store the required amount of energy. You see, when we eat an apple or a potato that’s sunlight from several days of sunshine.

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