I believe most of humanity is lost in the wilderness, unable to comprehend our most important goal, and thus creating through chronic ignorance the physical and social conditions of our degradation instead of realizing the potential of our genetic and environmental inheritance. Does that statement mean I am more intelligent and more perceptive than the rest of Humanity? Certainly not! Do I have the best ideas for fixing our current societal and environmental problems globally? That is very doubtful. Then what is it that I believe I have that transcends the thoughts of my contemporaries? It is pretty simple. Those of you who have read my various analyses in my earlier articles are familiar with my tenet Ö "When you start with the wrong questions you inevitably wind up with the wrong answers." Here is one example: "What will we have to do to meet the needs of a global human population of ten billion people by the middle of this century?"
What this means is that our best efforts to manage our global societies and our physical resources is a dismal failure opposite of what we are capable of doing. In fact, our entire mindset relative to global development is poorly conceived and clearly unstable and not contributive to the development of our destiny as a species. This demands a change in fundamental goals that will totally alter our mindset and our efforts to develop humanity.
So, what is the goal? What makes it superior to other goals? Why should we pursue the goal and what will it take to realize the goal? This article addresses those and other questions. It is my "cry out of the wilderness" to realign our diverse, destructive and ultimately purposeless short term goals, which are seen in terms of results in the chaos of our political, business and environmental status today, globally. This is some 6000 years after the developmental start and recording of the history of the major human civilizations.
To find ourselves where we are today is embarrassing. How many millennia will it take for us to grasp and to act upon sensible goals? Even considering all the progress made by humanity due to conceptual philosophical growth and development and application of the hard sciences we have put in a dismal performance. It continues now. Actually, it worsens as we continue to misdirect the fruits of the labors of many of our most creative and productive humans, and that is nothing new.
It is most instructive to approach definition of the goal in terms of what we experience in the act of living that we do not like. Similarly, the way to identify corrections to our evolution is to look at what we have not done in constructive human activity. I thus approach the larger subject of the goal by a short review of human problems and the inadequate answers provided by a few politically powerful humans across history, to the larger populations, to address those problems.
Let me name a few issues familiar to all of us as individuals. If you simply look at us as mammals existing in our present physical world, the planet earth, it is easy to identify our most timeless and fundamental problems of existence. We experience hunger, exposure to inhospitable climates, diseases from microorganisms and cell mutations, premature deaths due to accidents and wars, aging with decline in our abilities, and finally death. How is it that these aspects of existence are not flat out our recognized primary and widely broadcast top priority to-do list? Are we stupid? Does it not make sense that, if we are truly humanitarian, that we will direct our best talent and major human effort to manage and then to eradicate those problems?
Now letís look at what we actually do, subject by subject, noting that there is progress in most of those various problem areas, but nothing to indicate that we can manage all the expected and, more important, unexpected results. I think of the latter as "collateral damage" to human progress.
We direct serious efforts with laudable intent and, at least up to now, amazing results to eradicate hunger wherever it occurs. Is that not good? Frankly, no it is not good, because we have not accompanied that effort with required education and mandatory cultural growth/birth control to eliminate that one issue that always ruins our efforts to eradicate hunger. That issue is overpopulation. Every time a critically hungry population is fed it expands. That must be stopped and reversed.
Our global population has expanded from one billion people to seven billion people in a little bit over 100 years. That is ridiculous. We donít need seven billion people for any reason! The act of accommodating a population of that size is to destroy the environment, at a minimum locally, as seen in depleted aquifers and slashed rain forests. On a larger scale we are destroying our climate and our developed communities next to oceans because of the carbon dioxide we generate that is causing global warming and rising ocean levels.
The entire source of the above hunger and resultant environmental problems is the fact that we are unwilling to limit our global population, area by area, in terms of what each area can sustainably support environmentally. As an unavoidable result, the quality of life for the inhabitants is degraded terribly opposite what that quality of life could be were we humans responsible in our behaviors. Crowding is not pleasant regardless of food availability. Simply think about our stockyards. And we do that to humans?
The conclusion: Directing efforts to eradicate hunger without concomitant population management is utterly stupid. It must be stopped, not abetted.
If there is one area where man has clearly excelled it is in the area of creating necessary artificial environmental conditions for human comfort. That simple truth can be realized by considering how underground natural resources and surface materials have been used to allow us to live virtually anywhere on the planet, with the notable exception of Antarctica. Whether we consider shelter, clothing or transportation it is plain to see that man has conquered his physical environment and developed effective means to live and travel in comfort. Indeed, our Apollo missions to the moon demonstrated just how advanced we are as a species in creating transport and human comfort to areas of great distance and the most inhospitable natural conditions. But consider that the artificial environment created to support transit and environmental conditions suitable for humans in the Apollo missions were entirely unsustainable, i.e., destructively consumptive.
Our continuous success in comfort and safety areas is a clear sign that we can be exceptionally creative and adaptive. In short, some humans have fine brains capable of taking us far in human advancement. Our dealing with exposure is the proof. When we consider the combined effect of applying science and technology to food production and creating environments for human comfort it is no wonder we have increased in population. But that result turns out to be highly consumptive of our natural resources and a terrible source of environmental pollution. Yet, our history tells us that we can overcome great obstacles when our best and brightest are set to the task. But the most important question becomes "What is the purpose of continuing to increase human population, such that it takes gargantuan effort to provide life necessities without destroying our environment?"
Yes, sometimes it is "Rocket Science." Human ability to address very complex subjects is established. Our brightest humans, our finest one half of one percent of all humanity, can lead us to discover and harness most anything. It is a matter of directing and supporting their efforts to do so that is most critical to the actual advancement of humanity. They will lead us, if allowed and given sufficient time, to become ever more superior genetically, and that means all of us born in the future.
The human story relative to diseases is very similar to that of exposure. Our advances in medical science, using average life span as a unit of measure, are nothing short of magnificent, and by far most of the essential advances have been developed within the past 100 years. Of course, a bit of humble pie is in order, for when we look at our state of advancement opposite eradication of diseases, cell mutations and the very fact of physical aging we begin to look like elementary school children. We are barely beginning to understand how to control the total health of the human body. Then again, what do common people know about the latest discoveries in the fields of genetics and cell longevity?
This leads to recognition and acknowledgment of the problems created by medical success as well. Given significant increase in average life spans we impact both the population issue and the economics of having the longer-lived aging population provided all of the life necessities. The present reality is we have a major misfit between needs and ability to provide for those needs. It is as if government, in spurts of well-intentioned but myopic socialism, never considered the mathematics of kindness combined with advances in medicine at all. Businesses look at the problem, and rightfully so, that the needs of aging humans who are not productive on behalf of the businesses are not their problem at all. They are right. Some of this issue is the fault of no one. Some of it is the fault of those in government with grandiose ideas, and yet others who pilfer tax monies collected for proper later use. Of course, the profit motive of capitalism combined with so-called government largesse (our taxes) and a captive consumer (the aging people) has yielded most of the problem, as costs for medical services have inflated far beyond normal inflation, consistently, elsewhere in the economy.
We are on a sociological collision course, globally. No one planned how to match increasing population needs of the aging with economic requirements. This reality might result in a very ugly future direction. One thing is for certain, all the advances in medicine, limited as they are, opposite how much more we have to conquer, are highly responsible for humans having longer and healthier lives. The upshot is we have no established plan to accommodate this massive and growing societal issue, and for that we should be afraid.
The essence of this description of the collision of needs vs. costs is that we never have had any leadership any time in history with any deep or long range vision whatsoever in this subject area. The resulting economic instability can lead to nowhere except disaster for the aging population. It is merely a matter of time until the entitlements programs collapse from economic pressure. Thereafter, it is anyoneís guess what will happen to our aging citizens.
As an article sub-note, recognize that this issue is entirely due to the existence of so-called government funded health insurance, i.e., Medicare and Medicaid, in the USA. Eliminate the insurance and, ultimately, you eliminate the problem, not via premature deaths but instead by control of profits Ö what the market will bear in the absence of uncapped cost health insurance.
Interestingly, this subject area is not all that far removed from the final two fundamental problems of existence discussed in this article, aging and death due to the ravages of old age. Moreover, considering the impact of the previous three subject areas, this one is concern from the opposite direction. That means instead of worrying about meeting the needs of too many people we are instead focused on how to preserve life.
I approach this subject from the following: 1) I am alive, 2) I want to have a good life, and 3) I do not want to die. Can you think of any simpler way of stating how we feel at our most basic emotional level? I cannot. Once a viable cognitive human exists then the only issues are the three just listed above. Of those, the third one is the key subject in this section.
Accidents, in particular fatal accidents, are sad realities that destroy life early. At the present time in the USA it is fair to say that the intervention of government to improve safety in transportation in the last fifty years is commendable. Design of automobiles is the best example as they are not the death traps that existed prior to the introduction of seatbelts and other improvements to keep the passenger compartment intact in the event of an accident. Design improvements to automobiles also vastly improved mechanical reliability in tire, steering and braking systems.
Airline safety has improved markedly in the past thirty years also, for much the same reason, though litigation against the airlines has also been a powerful force to improve safety. Of course, a most fundamental consideration is that of the airline where loss of a multi-million dollar airplane is no joke.
A short review of building codes provides more examples of required safety features to keep people alive in the event of experiencing a house fire. Both smoke detectors and sprinkler systems provide for occupant escape time.
Apart from the airline area, and the automobile design improvements, is the sad reality that certain individuals seem destined to get into accidents. Some of the reason is lack of presence of mind, which means paying attention, while some is due to limited intelligence or limited or inadequate training. Actually, we can all honestly admit to failing the presence of mind requirement from time to time, and there does not appear to be a cure for that problem other than totally automating transportation. Of course, house fires are almost always a direct result of an occupant not paying attention to a potential fire hazard. Changes to building codes are a sorry substitute for enhancing presence of mind.
Before I get to the subject of war simply let me state that the cost and freedom of action burdens imposed on highly capable people to accommodate those of lesser abilities is most troublesome. I will leave it go at that, noting that part of the goal is to improve general intelligence across all of humanity.
Now we get to premature death as a demanded product of war. Why demanded? Try to imagine a war of conquest (Which is what all them are!) in which no one died and you will see the absurdity of that thought. The way to gain control and use of natural resources and other assets is to remove, forever, the occupants of the areas containing those resources and assets, with some consideration given to enslaving some of the survivors, or, treating their future servitude as one of the captured assets.
It is easy to see why we have wars. Populations at some point demand more of their environment than that environment is able to provide. This can happen due to population expansion or simply the exhausting of some critical natural resource. It might be food, water or natural resources like underground fuel, or even above ground resources like forests to provide raw material for housing. Whatever the case, humans can be interned to make war against their neighbors to improve their standard of living, which of course is seldom the reason given by the leaders for initiating war, but ultimately the underlying cause.
At a personal level each of us must look at the loss of life implicit in war with horror, as the remaining time in which the victims might have lived is removed totally, immediately, forcefully, with no afterthoughts of any consequence.
As a sociological consideration, war may be seen as the means to clean out the weaker members of humanity in favor of the stronger members, providing then the best life with the best resources to the strong, and literally nothing, even life itself, to the weak. This is one aspect of natural selection that, no matter how horrible, is utterly undeniable.
Now, to be humanitarian in the largest sense means not to kill and also not to overuse limited resources, so now we are back to the issue of overpopulation as well as other issues. If you want to eliminate war then people must not be competing in a life and death struggle for essential natural resources. Further, there must be no possibility allowed for jealousy across competing cultures where different abilities and different cultural beliefs lead to wide differences in standard of living.
This idea could lead to arguments in favor of global socialism but that would be a huge mistake. It is the differing abilities and cultural issues that must be addressed, not the distribution of largesse across the total human population. Part of it is genetics, and education is quite important, but beyond that the beliefs of the people within a culture will either contribute to or weigh heavily upon chances for success within the culture in terms of standard of living across the culture and in comparison to other cultures. In other words, is a culture open to change and supportive of internal growth, or, is it locked into historical stasis?
In the interim we have war as a horrible contributor to premature death. War is always "just around the corner" where large economic differences exist in adjacent populations. And note that the more successful population may and likely will be the instigator of any war, not the weaker population.
Decline of Abilities due to Aging:
In the context of this article no extended discussion is necessary to note that as we age we lose various physical and mental abilities. Of course, you might by observation derive those conclusions regarding other people, or, you can simply wait your turn to experience decline personally.
Medical science has prolonged our lives. To a limited extent our physical and mental abilities can be retained somewhat longer if we pay rigorous attention to our personal health. But the long and short of it is today we cannot and do not control the aging process and almost all of us experience terrible decline relative to our peak ability periods in our late teen and early twenties period of life.
It is important to note that research into the causes of aging is most active, with the obvious goal of avoiding or reversing the effects of aging. We actually will arrive at that point of evolution easily within fifty years. The problem is what we will do with that capability once we have it.
The overpopulation we are already experiencing, and itís negative effects on our environment, would become a totally out of control problem if the aging process was halted or reversed for older people and specifically halted for young people. This means, of course, that such a capability will certainly not be made available to the general population with the current levels of immature thinking within that population regarding reproduction. It would be global suicide.
So now we come down to the crux of the matter. Extension of healthy life for some indeterminate period is an understandable goal, provided we learn to control population expansion. But right behind that consideration is the one most people find to be overwhelming, and that is the next topic.
It is next to impossible to address the subject of death with any sense of knowledge other than to acknowledge that it obviously happens to all living things of which we are aware. And that reality is, to our knowledge, something that has always been true since the beginning of life on this planet. I could spend time debunking the various methods humans have used to address death as merely a temporary situation, but frankly that would be a waste of your time and mine. People believe what they are taught to believe without proof so they donít have to deal with the hideous reality of death in personal philosophical ways. That having been said it is important to move on to what really matters, which is the subject of the cessation of death, or, immortality.
As a sociological consideration we are utterly incompetent to even conceive how we might structure a society of immortals, for our expectations based on experience and consequent political models are based on assured mortality, and mostly on endless repetition of birth, limited years of living and death from generation to generation. I am no more competent than the next person regarding the conception of a structured society composed of immortals. What I can do is to alert you to the fact that immortality for humanity is going to happen very soon, but certainly not for all humans alive today.
It is a reality that our work in genetic engineering is producing technologies that promise to eliminate aging and all cell mutation problems leading to disease. A massive change to human history is taking place quietly at this moment. Indeed, the implications are so extreme that the knowledge of this activity must be kept from the individuals, the bulk of humanity alive today, who will be, ultimately, replaced, forever. That is to say, new generations of humans will be born with immortality implicit in their genetics. Their parents will not participate in immortality.
The terrible moral implications of this reality to a humanitarian today are obvious. Let me reduce this to a personal consideration for clarity. How would you like to be informed, that you and your loved ones have missed the ultimate train, the one that will carry humanity into the future as immortals? Would you not be horrified? Would you not feel totally cheated? Will the afterlife beliefs of many humans today be sufficient to keep you mollified?
To try to stop the evolution is self-destructive in denying our coming children the ability to transcend the limits of life known up to this time for all of humanity. Talk about a moral dilemma! We have been programmed from the beginning to put the safety and welfare of our offspring ahead of all other considerations, and rightly so, else the human species would perish. But now Ö We face comparative suicide while they escape human limits of life, as we have known them.
If you consider this article in terms of the discussion of the problems of humanity that we have partially overcome you start to get the picture. But partially overcoming hunger, disease, war and aging simply isnít enough. These things should be relegated to the category of old goals, useful in their time and humanitarian, but certainly not relevant to the future, as said problems will simply not exist.
The increase in general intelligence across humanity due to genetic engineering, followed by the realization of immortality, combine to define a new goal for our species. That goal is the pursuit of the questions of existence and purpose Ö all the way back to "first causes." Think of it, if you are of a religious persuasion, of seeking God directly.
Finally, these article thoughts and conclusions that would have been dismissed fifty years ago as the ravings of a lunatic can no longer be dismissed. Our science and technology accomplishments cannot be ignored or put down as too fantastic to consider. We are arriving and it is time to grow up and face reality. We must each make that choice and decide how to live the remainder of our lives. Like you, I will have missed the train. But inside I feel very hopeful about the future of humanity.