Addressing the Environmentalists

The largest, most vocal and organized opposition to engineered longevity emerges from the environmentalist movement and their misguided view of resources and overpopulation. Here is a modest answer to those viewpoints: "Increased health and life spans may be a dream come true, but many worry that it could turn nightmarish owing to problems like overcrowding, resource depletion, and greater pollution. Living a long time might be wonderful on an individual basis, but if many people can do it, would the world still be a place in which we would want to reside? ... Consider the idea that more people automatically means less food for everyone. In reality, as population grew, so did our ability to produce food. Today, many around the world are struggling with obesity, or the consumption of too much food, all while the world's population has been growing. Since 1800, the price of wheat has been steadily declining and the daily intake of calories per capita in both the developed and developing countries has been on the rise. Though it may seem counterintuitive, greater numbers of humans do not necessarily translate to fewer available resources. A key reason for this is that the more people there are, the more ideas there are, and more ideas lead to new and better ways of producing the things that we need. Fiber optic cables, which turned out to be superior to copper as a conduit for data communications, were invented in response to prohibitively high copper prices. Analogous innovations have been engineered in the food industry, such as high-yield dwarf wheat that has saved countless lives in India and Pakistan, and crops that can flourish in areas with less pure or plentiful water. As the innovations driving the longevity revolution improve the length and quality of our lives, concurrent improvements in the environment can be expected. Numerous studies have shown that the less people have to focus their energy on survival and meeting their basic needs, the more they care about making their environment cleaner. This pattern has occurred, and continues to occur, in developed countries like the United States and is now beginning in developing countries."

Link: http://volokh.com/2011/10/07/can-the-earth-survive-the-longevity-revolution/

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