False Overpopulation Objection to Life Extension and Regenerative Medicine
I really wish the doomsayers and catastrophists that cry out the tired old overpopulation argument as their default objection to life extension and regenerative medicine technologies--usually as the prelude to suggesting banning these technologies or regulating them into the ground in vain efforts to stop them, often times as a pretext to implement the terribly wrongheaded and ill advised Precautionary Principle (the precautionary principle would lead to absolute stagnation because it's impossible to predict every possible negative outcome of any given science or technology), would please do their damn homework before barking their arrogant and ignorant opinions!
I wasn't going to do your homework for you naysayers but instead entreat you to please search for the arguments against your positions for yourselves however with little effort I found exactly the article that I wanted that correctly covers and debunks all of the overpopulation myth premises.
Please please, take the time to read this article:http://goo.gl/rhAcQ
Here are just a few excerpts to help whet your appetite:
"The catastrophists have been predicting doom and gloom for centuries. Perhaps the single most amazing thing about this perennial exercise is that the catastrophists seem never to have stopped quite long enough to notice that their predictions have never materialized."
"As any population graph clearly shows, the world has and is experiencing a population explosion that began in the eighteenth century. Population rose sixfold in the next 200 years. But this explosion was accompanied, and in large part made possible, by a productivity explosion, a resource explosion, a food explosion, an information explosion, a communications explosion, a science explosion, and a medical explosion.
The result was that the sixfold increase in world population was dwarfed by the eighty-fold increase in world output. As real incomes rose, people were able to live healthier lives. Infant mortality rates plummeted and life expectancies soared."
Here the author neglected to say that the common practice of the time was to have 10 children per family because half to two thirds of them would die before the age of five. As more children began to survive this practice became unnecessary and now all developed nations are actually in population replacement decline with dire economic circumstance. This has led to efforts to encourage immigration quota increases causing their own problems. For instance in Europe where Islamic immigrants do not respect the liberal culture of their new host nations are trying to impose their own restrictive culture such as pushing for the adoption of Sharia law. These immigration efforts have been implemented to shore up the economic shortfalls for pension plans such as the equivalent of Social Security. Now on to further prescient quotes from the article.
"In the United States, for example, millions of acres of good cropland lie unused each year. Many experts believe that even with no advances in science or technology we currently have the capacity to feed adequately, on a sustainable basis, 40 to 50 billion people, or about eight to ten times the current world population."
"Resources. Like food, resources have become more abundant over time. Practically all resources, including energy, are cheaper now than ever before. Relative to wages, natural resource prices in the United States in 1990 were only one-half what they were in 1950, and just one-fifth their price in 1900. Prices outside the United States show similar trends.
But how can resources be getting more abundant? Resources are not things that we find in nature. It is ideas that make things resources. If we don’t know how to use something, it is not a resource. Oil is a perfect example. Prior to the 1840s oil was a liability rather than a resource. There was little use for it and it would often seep to the surface and get into the water supply. It was only with the dawn of the machine age that a use was discovered for this “slimy ooze.” ".
"Living Space. But even if food and resources are becoming more abundant, certainly this can’t be true for living space. After all, the world is a finite place and the more people in it, the less space there is for everyone. In a statistical sense this is true, of course. But it is also irrelevant. For example, if the entire population of the world were placed in the state of Alaska, every individual would receive nearly 3,500 square feet of space, or about one-half the size of the average American family homestead with front and back yards. Alaska is a big state, but it is a mere one percent of the earth’s land mass. Less than one-half of one percent of the world’s ice-free land area is used for human settlements."
One thing missing from this discussion of overpopulation is that catastrophists always seem to assume that living on the Earth is forever our only possible option. Another thing always overlooked is the exponential rate of development of technology and science. Due to this exponential expansion in the development of technology actually in little time at all we will be moving off planet. We will also begin to stop using up wild spaces for agriculture and cities will become to develop upwards instead of outwards. Japan already has designs for complete city towers that are self-sustaining as to energy, food production and internal transportation that are open & airy, would be pleasant to live in and could contain upwards of 100,000 people or more with a footprint small enough to accommodate several towers of this type on a small area of land.
The next step, with the aid of space elevators to bring cost of orbital space engineering down to a reasonable rate per pound, we will begin to develop the Moon for a jumping off point to aid in the mining of asteroids. These will provide the materials for orbiting space stations that can house hundreds of thousands of people. The next step after that is connecting these orbiting space stations into a single orbital ring. From such a ring with technology that will provide strong cables and lightweight building materials we will be able to build hanging cities. These would hang from the orbital ring equidistant from each other so that the gravitational pull upon them would be equal and keep the ring steady in its orbit. For those worried about some ugly structure blocking the sun or obstructing the view of the sky this won't be a problem because meta-materials will make it virtually invisible and pass the sun's light around them.
Eventually we will be terraforming our sister planet Mars and I even have ideas for doing Venus. We will learn to do so by first terraforming the now unproductive deserts of the world. These will provide more open hospitable spaces both wild and agricultural. Imagine the Sahara Desert green again as it was a mere 6000 years ago as science has discovered. This is possible with science and technology that we have today. If we took all of the trash and sewage from the developed nations converted it into fertilizer then combined that and seeds in a biodegradable polymer with an affinity for water such a material could bind the sand preventing the dunes from blowing. If then mixed deeply enough into the sand it would create a fertile loam. The first to grow would be grasses with deep roots to bind the sand in its place and then trees for shade.
There is a technology already developed that passively converts salt water to fresh water, a desalinization plant that requires no added energy. With this and wind and solar powered pumping stations along the route of the pipeline irrigation of desert areas would be possible from desalinated salt water from the sea. This is all doable today if we only had the political will. Eventually just like the Amazon basin this large green area would develop a weather system of its own when evaporation from transpiration of plants and then re-raining down upon the area.
As I said at the outset all too often the naysayers, the doomsday crowd, the catastrophists--especially the sociopathic uber environmentalists that if they could would push humanity back to hunter gatherer days--the Luddites quaking in their boots from future shock and sometimes even the overly pious religious, all fear the extension of the human lifespan and hope in vain to quell this technology... to grind it under their arrogant and ignorant collective heel. Well I've got news for them, there is not a damn thing they can do about! Any attempt to outlaw such technologies only drives them underground. This is bad because then they go on unseen and without oversight. Over-regulation has the same effect. One cannot stop the progress of science and technology, period. Surely history bears out this overriding fact.
As the, "Overpopulation Myth", article points out the more people there are the more ideas are produced. The more people there are the more entrepreneurs and inventors, the more innovators. This has brought us to a time where with so many millions of technologists and scientists working hard every day technology and science are in a double exponential expansion rate. As an example think of how smart phones and sleek thin powerful tablet computers didn't even exist a few years ago except in the imagination of those writing the Star Trek Next Generation TV show. Those of us that have been watching this exponential technology development phenomenon have a word for what this is bringing about, we call it, "The Singularity". This name is borrowed from astrophysics for the description of a Black Hole because as a Black Hole has an event horizon that from beyond which no information can be extracted. So also we are coming to a time which we cannot with any accuracy predict the direction of science and technological development. We can't see beyond the event horizon of our own technological development. My favorite quote applies here: "Quod De Futuris Non Est Determinata Omnino Veritas". Extra brownie points for figuring out who said that and why it's ironic.
The stark implication of this is that the pursuit of what some of us have come to call "Physical Immortality" will continue and will come to be regardless of any efforts to stop it. Now let's not get hung up on the "immortality" word. This is not the magical cannot ever die for any reason "infinite immortality", the type that religions promise. What we mean by this Physical Immortality is indefinite youthful health, indefinite lifespan (I did not say infinite as an lasting forever) and robust fitness. Through various means we will conquer every cause of death for human beings where reasonably possible. One thing being worked upon toward this end is Nanomedicine. Now Nanomedicine comes in various forms but specifically here we refer to nano robotics or as is sometimes referred to as nanites in science fiction.
I don't think I need to explain that science fiction is the new mythos and the predictor of real science. So let's not have the giggle factor overcome us when I mention science fiction please. Imagine trillions of tiny little surgeons inhabiting every cell of your body and correcting little errors in DNA transcription or damaged organelles or improperly manufactured proteins, all of which lead to disease and well aging. It has already been stated by physicists that these nano robots are not beyond the realm of possibility and are not against the laws of physics. Over 50 labs are developing them and this means a lot of money has been placed into it and this would not be done if it were just pie-in-the-sky. Now if one has an army of these keeping every cell in a pristine state then it's going to become damn hard to die. Of course one will not be able to withstand something extremely violent such as an explosion, a conflagration, getting flattened by a large heavy object or falling into a black hole.
To sum up my entire point it would be... let's have some imagination people, let's encourage our politicians to have imagination! Doubling the lifespan of every human being right now would fix every economical woe that we have. It is feared that in the United States that Social Security will become insolvent in a few years to come. Well this wouldn't be a problem if people do not need to retire and therefore did not need Social Security. Another drag on Social Security is the high cost of catastrophic injury care such as for myself a quadriplegic, and trust me I don't receive near enough to actually live on my Social Security Disability Income. Defeating the aging process has also the side benefits of curing many diseases such as the one that afflicts me and millions of other Americans, spinal cord injury and thereby relieving the pressure of the economic drain that the high cost of medical care for disabilities causes.
There is a huge economic cost to the loss of expertise and the knowledge of every person that dies from aging. There is a cost from aging and premature death of human beings that is difficult to calculate. This is the cost of having to relearn generation after generation the wisdom gained from the mistakes of earlier generations. Just as we become comfortable within ourselves comfortable with life, just as we learn how to truly be a decent human being our time is over. Ponder how quickly fighting wars would cease to be a factor to humanity if we were longer lived. Would we so quickly send our youth to die in senseless wars if they had 200, 500, 1000 or maybe even 5000 years of life ahead of them to stupidly lose in a mindless war? Who would risk such a law school would sign up for such a war?
On the subject of imagination I want everyone to imagine how many stars that are in just our galaxy alone. It Is said to be 250 billion. We are now finding exo-planets to be common companions of most stars. Out of all those 250 billion stars out there, there has to be some capable of having planets hosting extraterrestrial life. Out of those there has to be some with intelligent life. Now imagine an extraterrestrial civilization that has had technology for a million years longer than we have. Ask yourself would they not have surely conquered the problem of deterioration and aging if that far ahead of us? What if not 1 million years but merely 10,000, better yet how about just one thousand years ahead of us? In fact I don't even think one hundred years from our current level of technology is necessary to conquer the disease of aging because of the exponential factor of technological development.
One commenter is of the opinion that the problem of aging will never be defined, that it's far too complicated and he wrongly thinks that it's somehow built into our evolution. I suggest that he and others of like opinion please go to this website [http://www.sens.org] and learn what really causes aging and how much easier it is to do something about then is believed by many. My friend and colleague Aubrey de Grey has defined the aging process as being caused by seven processes that are consequences of metabolism in the way our bodies are engineered. A small sample of these would be, one, transcription errors in the replication of DNA, two, the buildup of junk inside and outside cells, and three, damage from free radicals that among other things damages mitochondria of cells causing their death. If you want to learn what aging really is please visit this website [http://www.sens.org].
I see a need to add something about the economics of reversing the aging process. Some wrongly feel that only the rich will have the opportunity to take advantage of it. This is a fallacy, no pharmaceutical company wants to invest billions of dollars to only be able to sell it to a few hundred uber rich. An old adage goes it is easier to get one dollar from 1 million people than it is to get $1 million from one person. As far as the antiaging cream companies comment goes, basically that they won't allow true life extension therapies to cut into their market share, well that comment just leaves me speechless. I guess some need a lesson in simple economics and free enterprise. If a better product comes along people will buy that rather than creams that don't work it's just that simple.