X-Message-Number: 2570
Subject: CRYONICS Population and Pollution
From:	 (Ben Best)
Date:	Sun, 23 Jan 1994 23:12:00 -0500

    Since no one else seems interested in answering Franz Amador, I'll
take this opportunity to express myself on the subject of overpopulation
and pollution.

    Concerning overpopulation, it should be observed that overpopulation
is primarily a problem in countries where technology is low. It is
probably no accident that these countries are almost invariably military
dictatorships with predatory economic policies. Hong Kong, by contast,
contains the most densely populated regions on Earth, is almost bereft
of natural resources and has a very free market (with minimal welfare
benefits) -- and yet has "labour shortages" and a booming economy.
Overpopulatin is not an economic drain as long as each additional person
creates more wealth than he or she consumes. The Earth is very spacious,
yet human beings cram themselves into cities -- building skyscrapers to
increase population density.

   Currently, the most rapid population growth is in countries with the
least capacity to economically sustain such growth. In developed
countries, generous welfare systems provide incentives for reproduction
among the least productive elements of those countries' citizens.
Exponential population growth (parents having 8 children, who in turn
have 8 children) is the most serious current population problem -- not
the linear population growth that would follow from people having
eternal life. Even if death were eliminated and people restricted
themselves to having one child (2 per couple), population increase would
be linear, rather than exponential. Immortality does not necessitate
having "no children". Currently, less than one-millionth of one percent
of the world's population has made arrangements to be frozen. Most
people I talk to show no interest in immortality even under the best
circumstances. The issue of immortalism is of negligible importance to
current populations problems -- and to problems of the foreseeable

   The essense of the pollution problem lies in the fact that the Earth
contains many resources which are not privatized -- and in many
instances are impossible to privatize. In artifical habitats in space
all resources, including air and water, would be produced, sold and
conserved. On Earth, there are no individual incentives not to pollute
when access to air and water are without cost. There are no individual
incentives to protect the ozone layer. Note, however, that these
problems have NOTHING to do with immortalism per se. These problems must
be addressed even if population growth stops and the cycle of birth and
death does not change.

   On a more optimistic note, I observe that technology may be becoming
less polluting. Large cities were far more polluted 60 years ago -- when
people used coal for heating -- than they are today. Fusion power and
electric cars could make cities of the future even cleaner. Moreover, if
the cost is low enough, nanomachines to launder the atmosphere could be
financed by charities -- despite the absence of private property and
individual economic incentive.

   Thus, although real problems exist with overpopulation and pollution,
these problems will exist with or without immortalism -- and must be
solved with or without immortalism. Immortalists would have the greatest
incentives to solve these problems. But otherwise, the probable impact
of immortalism on these problems is, relatively speaking, negligible.

                     -- Ben Best (ben.best%)

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