Human Longevity vs. Planetary Sustainability
Human Longevity vs. Planetary Sustainability
Human Longevity vs. Planetary Sustainability: The Hard Choice of a Cure for a Disease or a Cure for the Planet
By Ruth Laurence
Table of Contents
- Factual Background on Population Growth
- Factual Background on Longevity Medication
- Justice for the Earth
- Fairness for Humans
The human population is growing at an alarming pace. Death rates are dropping for humans as more and more medical technology becomes globally available. Cures for the two largest killers: stroke and heart disease, (“The Top 10 Causes of Death.”) could very well be discovered within the next decade, if they haven’t been already. The world is changing before our very eyes in some very big ways. On the surface, these changes may seem like good things. They would allow people to spend more time with family, spend more time pursuing their dreams, or researching new medicines, but on a large chronological scale, these new medical technologies might not be beneficial. Overpopulation is an issue that grows in magnitude every day. Right now, with 7.3 billion people living on Earth, things like pollution, and access to food and water affect our everyday lives. These problems will only get worse as the population grows. Unless changes are made, the future of human life on Earth will not be prosperous, but rather, nonexistent.
This paper will address the issue of human overpopulation when coupled with the new and emerging longevity medical technologies, and the hypothetical results of how these technologies will affect the issue. First, a factual background of population growth and 2 longevity medications will be discussed. This background will become the basis for the following ethical arguments: the ethical issues of fairness and justice will be discussed in relation to humans and the Earth. Fairness will be discussed within the context of humans, while justice will be discussed within the context of humans and the affect they have on the Earth. It will explore the possibility of the fairness of limiting access to these longevity medicines, and the idea of justice for the Earth, and treating the Earth with respect. Within the issue of justice for the Earth, the question of whether humans or animals and the environment get priority in decision making that affects these parties will be discussed in varying degrees. This will raise questions about the human race’s responsibility to make decisions regarding this issue and it will put forth these questions in terms of current and future generations of the human race. The paper will endeavor to draw a line at which a damage point has been reached on the Earth that is too great for human life to continue in the routine way that it does.
Factual Background on Population Growth
The human population has grown at a staggering rate in the last hundred years, due to the nature of exponential growth and the fact that the death rate has been declining. There has been an 89% reduction in infant mortality from 1915-1997 (“Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Healthier Mothers and Babies.”). A decrease in poverty has contributed to the lowering of the death rate; things like improved sanitation and access to healthcare and education, and increased economic opportunities all contribute to this decrease. In 1900 the leading cause of death was infectious diseases, which accounted for 32% percent of all deaths. The death rate decreased at that time because of nutritional improvement and general public sanitation. Infectious diseases declined in the 1940s-60s because of an increase in the use of antibiotics like penicillin and sulfa drugs. More recently, developments like a decreased rate of death in elderly patients with heart diseases and in low-birth weight infants have contributed to the reduction of mortality rates (Steck).
During a period after World War II called the baby boom, significantly more babies were born than the years previously, and the birth rate briefly increased. This is an example of a contemporary event that affected the overall demographic makeup of the population. Right now these baby boomers make up a significant amount of the population, most of them as senior citizens (“Nation’s Older Population to Nearly Double.”). They have altered the demographic in the U.S to create a noticeably higher amount of people over 60 alive in the U.S. than would have normally occurred had there not been social and cultural factors to affect the birth rate. It is also important to note that life expectancy has been gradually increasing as these people grow older, so they will continue to live long past what was the norm when they were born.
Vaccines are one of the medical advancements that has helped drop the death rate. These protect people from many infectious and lethal diseases and have prevented the spread of formerly fatal diseases like smallpox and influenza. Infectious diseases, which used to be one of the world’s greatest killers, have a lesser effect on the world’s mortality rate now, which is partly due to these medicines (“Vaccination Greatly Reduces Disease, Disability, Death and Inequity Worldwide.”). Due to the nature of exponential growth, all the lives saved by vaccines have a large effect on the population (Kinder).
Antibiotics have similarly protected humans from certain diseases. The discovery of penicillin saved over an estimate of 200 million lives by stopping formerly fatal diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and scarlet fever. These have also decreased the mortality rate by stopping the spread of these infectious diseases, who formerly used to be the cause of death in about 35% of the population (“Alexander Fleming.”).
The Negative Effects of Population Growth
The population has increased greatly over the last 100 years, and so has the population growth rate. These changes have also affected the Earth in negative ways.
An ecological footprint is the measure of the supply and demand humans put on nature’s resources. It represents the area needed to provide humans with the renewable resources they need and the area needed to absorb waste, since unused land can often be helpful in absorbing carbon emissions. Currently, humans’ ecological footprint is has overshot Earth’s capacity to provide. It now takes the Earth and the natural processes of nature 1 year and 6 months to regenerate the amount of resources humans use in a year (“Footprint Basics.”). There will be an increase in needed living space, which will become a problem, especially when the growth reaches a point where the land needed to absorb carbon emissions and other pollution is being lived on very the very organisms causing these problems. Based on the precedent, it seems more and more likely that the Earth will soon not be able to regenerate the natural resources humans are consuming at a fast enough rate to sustain the population.
Pollution is another way human population growth has negatively affected the environment. Population increase and economic expansion both contribute to climate change. Industrialization contributes to global warming. When factories increase production because of a larger demand for goods, they release more greenhouse gases into the air, which further pollutes and damages air quality (“B.C. Air Quality.”). This in turn affects the health of organisms globally and negatively affects the prospects of life on Earth. This industrialization also increases the use of electricity, a major consumer of fossil fuel. The more humans on Earth, the more energy they require to power homes, schools, offices and other buildings or establishments.
Below are several different growth models and future predictions for the Earth’s population.
Figure 1 shows the UN’s official 2015 Revision of The World Population Prospects. It shows 60 sample trajectories in grey, as well as a median projection, in solid red, of about 9.8 billion people in the world by 2050. This estimate is based on probable life expectancy and fertility rates that will occur in the future.
Figure 2 shows a similar projection, although the slope of the line is a little less steep than the UN’s. This predicts the population to be around 9.5 billion in 2050. This projection is from the Census Bureau.
According to the World Bank’s Health Nutrition and Population Statistics, the global population will be at 9,683,137,000 people in the year 2050, which is higher than the Census Bureau’s prediction, but lower than the UN’s.
All these predictions are in the same range of about 9.5-10 billion people existing on the Earth in 2050. Because these are all highly credible sources, it seems fair to assume that this range is a very probable estimate of the world population in 2050, barring any unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters.
As humans, we affect the planet negatively because of population growth. This will tie into justice for the Earth, because it will call into question the “positive effects of the longevity medication”. With change in population comes change in the circumstances on Earth. These circumstances could be harmful to humans and humans can do a lot of harm to the planet regarding overpopulation issues. Currently, the human race does not have a sustainable enough lifestyle for the Earth to replace the natural resources we consume at a fast enough rate. The pollution humans cause will also prevent sustainability by furthering the effects of global warming. In summary, the increase in human population effects big changes on the Earth, and many of them are negative. Evidence suggests that further population growth will not allow the Earth to sustain the human race any longer.
Factual Background on Longevity Medication
The world will not stop just because of these population problems, and while the population is increasing, new medicines are being researched and developed with the specific purpose of extending the human lifespan. This section will provide factual background on these new longevity medications, and allow the reader to consider the population problem within the context of these drugs. The reason why these specific longevity medications are being discussed as opposed to other things that influence population growth, like natural exponential growth, more global access to amenities like drinking water and shelter and other medical availabilities like health care, is because while these things do extend human life, their sole purpose is not such. I think this ethical issue of extending the human lifespan remains clearer, when it is contained within a situation of drugs and medicine (man-made things) that’s sole purpose is to extend the lifespan of a human. Yes, it is important to acknowledge that they extend this lifespan sometimes by making a human healthier, but again, another medicine that extends human life does the exact opposite. Something like clean drinking water is given to a human to make them healthier, which in turn increases lifespan, while one of these drugs is given to a human to increase lifespan, by making them healthier. The difference may seem insignificant at first, but I believe it is important to note that when exploring the ethics of humans living a longer life, these drugs create an abundantly clear intention and agenda that humans have regarding a general opinion that we have now on the subject of a longer life. If the populus’ current general opinion is that there is nothing wrong with living a longer life, and in fact want to enable themselves to do so, then that opinion can be applied favorably to these drugs. By educating them on the risks and benefits of prolonging life, using drugs designed specifically for this purpose, they get a better understanding of what the issues raised in this paper actually are, and why they are raised in the first place.
Many longevity medications currently being researched essentially work in the same way. Scientists have recently discovered that one of the main causes of aging, and aging-related diseases, are cells called senescent cells. Young organs have cells within them that are constantly dividing and renewing themselves, but this division only occurs for a certain amount of time, after which these cells become senescent. Senescent cells are cells that cannot divide and are bigger and flatter than normal cells. These cells pump out proteins and other compounds that cause inflammation. This inflammation has been pinpointed to be one of the causes of many aging-related diseases, like heart and kidney failure, as well as Alzheimer’s and arthritis. A factor that many of the longevity medications have in common is targeting these cells in some way to prevent these changes from taking place. Many of these drugs have had positive results doing just that in a laboratory setting with mice (Longo).
One drug being developed is Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant currently being used for people with kidney transplants. In the future, it may be used as a longevity drug instead. When tested on mice, Rapamycin extended a life span by 10%, by limiting the amount of inflammation senescent cells produced. It has also been found to reduce the cognitive decline that goes along with aging in other animal testing. Rapamycin does have drawbacks. There is a risk that it causes diabetes, and since it does weaken the immune system, it might be inadvisable to take without a transplant, because it leaves humans susceptible to diseases (Park).
Another drug in development, Everolimus, is used to treat certain cancers that has been approved and tested in human trials for longevity purposes. Everolimus partially reversed some immune deterioration in a trial with people over 65 years old. These people were given everolimus for 6 weeks and then given a flu-vaccine after a two week break from the drug. Studies showed that the drug improved the subject’s’ immune system strength and response by over 20% versus the people who had the placebo. Everolimus is in the same class of drugs as Rapamycin. The drug still needs further research and more trials, as well as long term follow up on it’s effects, since little is known about it. There were 3 doses tested within trials. The highest doses caused fatigue and mouth ulcers, but the lowest had almost no side effects. (Wilson, Clare)
Arguably, these medicines are just instant gratification. If the use of the medicines indirectly harms the Earth, then it will circle back around to negatively affect the organisms living there, which becomes a cycle of negative effects, until the human race dies out. These medications could expand the lifespan of many humans, but if no reforms are put in place, then a cycle of more humans means a cycle of more things like pollution and lack of food and water. Is it worth it for humans to hurt the Earth for their own personal gain? Do the costs outweigh the benefits? The next section will explore the Earth as a stakeholder within the process, and how it can obtain justice within the premise of this issue
Justice for the Earth
There are degrees of the amount that longevity will negatively affect the Earth and all the organisms that live on it. Our actions as humans work within the cycle of ecosystems, because we live on the Earth, which is itself, one giant ecosystem called the biosphere. For example, when we pollute a river by growing food with harmful chemicals, we kill the organisms who live in that river. Since these organisms exist in a food chain, when one organism dies, the rest decline in population as well because of a lack of food. Humans, who exist at the top of the food chain, will kill off their own food supply by polluting the environment that they live in. These organisms that get caught in the crosshairs also live on Earth, and we humans are not treating them with respect by polluting it, nor are we treating Earth with respect by using all its resources. This issue affects many different ranks of organisms across an ecosystem in various degrees of strength, which is why it is so complex.
The first perspective to explore is one in which longevity medications will further damage the earth too much to even be considered. Working under the assumption that humans have already damaged the Earth far too much, an even greater increase than the already climbing natural one will cost too much for the Earth. Based on the kind of overpopulation damage humans already cause, extended lifespans would have a devastating impact on the environment. Pollution is a terrible thing caused by humans that has many negative effects. These effects would be heightened by an unnatural increase in population. Pollution also affects humans in an unhealthy way: it has been known to cause all sorts of medical issues like asthma attacks and reduced energy levels that might not be able to be cured by the new medications.
Additionally, the extended lifespan of humans does not demonstrate respect nor acknowledge the rights of other organisms within the biosphere. The enabling of further pollution to the biosphere via extended human lifespan would be cruel to other living things. These organisms, like animals, can feel pain, and even others have emotional capabilities. To kill them because of pollution would be cruel on the part of humans. It is an unnecessary cruelty, because with certain reforms it could be prevented.
Within the realm of compromise, another perspective could be that these longevity medications will eventually help the humans in the long run, because they could allow for more time for scientific discovery and more of a chance of solving problems caused by overpopulation. Not only does this enable and ensure the continuation of the human race, which is a common goal among society, but it is also a situation in which all parties benefit, because humans with extended life spans will have more productive lives. It can be argued that this would create incentive for humans to solve overpopulation and pollution problems, working under the basis that there would be dire consequences if the problems aren’t solved. Thomas Malthus, an English cleric and scholar who was active in the late 1700s, was most famous for developing a theory called the Malthusian catastrophe. This theory stated that eventually, if left unchecked, the population would grow so large that it would exceed the available food supply. He then went on to say that disease and famine were what he considered to be checks on the population. Our population growth has not surpassed food production within the time that he predicted, because since his time, humans have developed many innovations in agriculture that have allowed us to make sure our food supply remains sufficient for the amount of people on Earth. Longevity could even be a potential solution to planetary sustainability.If time is the most valuable resource and enabler in a human’s life, then increased time could absolutely help humans in trying to solve the problems that we have technically created for the earth. Guessing on whether a scientific discovery will be made is a huge bet, that some people might not be willing to take, because there is always a chance that something could not work out, and in that case, the probability of a human getting results is almost unpredictable, because human error is incalculable, but it might be worth the risk. If these could be not just the problem, but the solution, they might be justifiable in use.
Some might argue that the earth, as a biosphere, includes humans, so it will actually be helpful to some of the earth. We are helping ourselves, and we do exist in the umbrella term of earth and in the realistic term of biosphere; humans, as a part of the biosphere, benefit the earth by benefitting ourselves because we are the earth. Humans are participatory creatures by necessity within earth’s ecosystem, so one could argue on a technicality that by helping themselves they are helping the earth. If humans are a part of the earth, then technically, when we help ourselves, the circle of help comes back to the earth in the inclusion of us in the ecosystem.
Or, plants and humans could be placed in different categories, with another perspective being that It is not the problem of humans to be concerned with other organisms in the biosphere. Humans are not obligated to take responsibility for the welfare and wellbeing of other organisms nor should they. Plants and animals are the subservient creatures, and humans are the dominant creatures, so in the natural order of things, if something benefits humans, is does not matter if it benefits the other organisms. Since, naturally, plants and animals do not have the adaptive capabilities of humans, that must be “the way of things”.
Personally, I believe that all living things deserve respect and that humans do have a responsibility to treat them as such. I also think that while the effects of pollution should not be the reason to prevent humans from taking longevity medications, it is still a large issue that must be solved. I am a moderate person generally, and compromise in which two parties end up with some positive outcomes satisfy me. A way to meet in the middle regarding overpopulation in general, which these medicines will cause sounds very desirable. Unfortunately, I also believe that there will always be a better solution, and I will not be satisfied on that account. I fear that I will always want more out of both parties in this tenuous situation; a solution to all pollution problems without fear of overpopulation would be nice, and if humans got to take longevity medications as well, as a sign of respect for their autonomy, that would be nice too. I know that that situation is a little unrealistic, but personally that would be the only way that I could be happy within a solution regarding this issue. Anything else would make me wish for something better.
The most extreme argument in favor of disregarding the Earth is one in which humans have no responsibility or allegiance towards other organisms, and therefore, they have no need to be concerned with other organisms in the biosphere or the Earth in general. Current humans have evolved to be superior in intelligence and adaptability to other organisms, so in this way, one can argue that we are even entitled to get something that benefits us without consequences or consideration.
The other extreme is one in favor of considering the Earth above all else, and not even including humans in a definition of the Earth as a natural entity. Working under the assumption that humans have already damaged the Earth far too much, an even greater increase than the already climbing natural one will cost too much for the Earth. We must take responsibility for our negative actions, and face the consequences of them. Any increase of pollution would be unacceptable, which would happen if these medicines were to cause overpopulation (something that is very probable).
Until humans stop polluting the Earth, no part of this situation will remain solved, but at the same time, it is human’s’ choice to do what they want with the medicine, because the earth and other organisms have no power to stop them, nor a designated group of humans to communicate for them to other humans.
Fairness for Humans
The Earth is not the only thing that should be considered regarding the implantation of these drugs into society. How fair these drugs will be to humans is also important. There are divisions between humans that these drugs will cause: socioeconomically and between present and future generations.
Since these longevity medicines are so new, they have next to no regulations, nor has anyone taken the time to carefully consider their future effects over the next twenty, thirty or fifty years. However, who, if anyone, has the right to deny another human being these medicines, and therefore restrict another human’s lifespan? How can everyone be represented in the decision making process if the decisions made about these drugs also include future humans? These issues have many layers and they stretch between socioeconomic groups of humans and between different philosophies of human existence. Future and present humans must be considered, but even then, who takes priority?
The first perspective that must be considered is one in which the long-term effects of these medicines are not the current generation’s’ problem. If the longevity medications eventually have negative effects on the lifestyle of future generations, it should not matter to the present generation. The wellbeing of the people living now and the opportunities that these longevity medications will award people, even in a short term sense, are positives that far outweigh the negatives of a diminished quality of life for future generations. Additionally, in the short term sense, these drugs would give people the ability to spend more time with their loved ones, become more productive in life, and accomplish far greater goals than before. We, as humans, have the right to make our own decisions and it is not our responsibility to be concerned about the future. Furthermore, these drugs are not illegal yet, so until regulations have been placed upon the use of them, humans have the right to use them as they wish.
Another reason that humans should be able to use these drugs, is because no one human should deny another human the right to life, or access to medical care. No human has the right or responsibility to allocate worth to another human’s life, and by denying humans the use of these drugs after the knowledge that they exist has been made public, it dismisses someone’s chance of living a longer life. It also also removes someone’s chances of experiences that go along with that time. Time is a valuable resource for humans, so if the drug’s existence had been made public, withholding said drug would be unfair.
These drugs must also be universally available, or else that becomes another denial of the human right to life. If these drugs become available it is important to make them available to every human, or else they become a coveted resource and an enabler of more inequality. Society would have even more imbalances if living longer was dependent on things like social and economic status. Even currently, many people don’t have access to medical care, and societal imbalances exist within available medical treatments. If these drugs are not universally available, it becomes unfair to prolong human life because this will ultimately lead to more of a gap between the first and third world. Since the methods of prolonging life are medication it is not hard to assume that there will be an inequality with access to these medications. This will further increase the life expectancy gap between these countries, which is the epitome of unfairness, because lack of access to medicine would prevent someone, and is currently preventing someone, from living a longer and fuller life. Again, with time being such an important and valuable resource, socioeconomic backgrounds must be considered
These medicines would interfere with the meaning of life, and the natural lifecycle of a human (Pijnenburg). Although many religions can agree that life is precious universally and it is a crime to take someone’s life, they also acknowledge the hubris of living for a long time. The Christian saint Thomas Aquinas taught that while life is precious, what occurs in your life, and the way someone lives life to the fullest in the form of doing good deeds is much better than striving to live longer. A common theme in many religions, including Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam is the idea of letting go of human ego and being happy in life by doing things like being kind to others. Extrapolating on this, one could say that an almost obsession of prolonging life would take away from the actual living and value that a human places on their life. Less value could be held of time because of the extension of it that humans would be granted; like any commodity, a greater availability of it would give it less value.
We should do more research on these medicines and then come to conclusions, and assign responsibility for reforms and regulations to make sure that present and future generations will be safe after use of these drugs, and healthy and comfortable with the state of their habitat. It is hard, if not impossible, to draw conclusions and make informed decisions about these drugs without being knowledgeable about them. Making educated decisions is the best way to come up with functional and beneficial results, so we must enable programs that do more research, not only on the drugs themselves, but on hypothetical situations and the probabilities of these hypothetical situations that might arise from creating and producing these drugs.
Case Study in Regulation of Population; China’s One Child Policy
China’s One-Child policy is a population control policy introduced in the late 1970’s that was discontinued in 2015. It was a law which applied to 36% percent of China’s population, mostly in urban areas, which stated that families could only have one child. People in rural areas were permitted to two children and another 53% percent were permitted to have a second child granted that their first child was a girl. In a survey taken by the Pew Research Center in 2008, 76% percent of China’s population were reported to be satisfied with the policy (“The Chinese Celebrate Their Roaring Economy, As They Struggle With Its Costs.”). It was discontinued in October of 2015 because of China’s demographic problems; the policy had caused the population to be made of up too many males, too few young people and too many elderly people (Worrall).
Many were critics of this policy because of the human rights violations that it infringed on the population. The International Conference on Human Rights states that it is a human rights violation to limit the amount of children a family can have, and there are reports of China enforcing this policy by forced sterilization and abortion. It also caused problems because, traditionally, Chinese culture regards males in a higher status than females, so women expecting females were more prone to not keep their babies using a variety of methods, like giving their daughters up for adoption. In some cases, parents even resorted to infanticide, and sex-selective abortion, where they had an ultrasound to determine their baby’s sex, and then aborted it if it was a girl. This caused problems demographically because it led to an imbalance of females and males in the population and was also horrific because millions of Chinese baby girls were killed during this time period.
According to China, this policy prevented 400 million births, but other sources, including CNN reports disagree, and lower that number by a maximum of half. It failed because it created a non-optimal breeding environment within China; with so many less girls making up the population, the birth rate decreased by more than it should have. Additionally, the population the policy was imposed on would also have to be satisfied with this policy; if this policy was implemented against a person’s will it would be deemed a human rights violation.
This case study is something that I am considering to be precedent for future population control measures. In the future, if we do need to find a way to limit the size of the population, regulating the amount of children someone could have is something that I think will be considered. In this case, many people were satisfied with this measure, but some human rights issues were called into question. This shows the ways a solution like this could work, and ways that it failed, so it could almost be considered as an experimental model if the human race ever had the need to do something like this on Earth again.
Personally, I believe that this policy or a policy similar to this would have to be monitored very carefully and researched more to determine its exact effect on a population (with humans it is often hard to predict accurate results given the high number of variables present in the situation). I think that it is an extreme measure, and if deemed necessary, it would have to be implemented with the people in authority recognizing all the consequences and negative effects of this implementation. It can be argued that a policy like this is a consequence of allowing longevity; a necessary evil in the face of the benefits of a longer life. But I highly doubt that we, as human beings, would agree with this reasoning, because this would infringe upon the human experience in other ways. Currently there are other, less extreme measures of controlling birth rates, like educating women on methods of birth control.
In regards to fairness, I believe that research should come first, regarding any of these medications for safety reasons, because the unknown can lead to future problems. From there, it will be important to determine democratically as a people, what will be best for us now and in the future, and be content and aware of the decision we make about these new technologies. I’m a big believer in not taking anything for granted, and for this idea to sell to me, I would not just have to be assured about health benefits, and safety precautions. I’d also like to think that people would upheld and appreciate the gift that this drug would be giving them. Time and life are universally valuable things, and should not be treated with recklessness or indifference.
The most extreme argument regarding the issue of fairness is the idea of the inequality that the medicine would create. There will be obvious inequalities, like access between classes and socioeconomic statuses. The not-so-obvious inequality is who participates in these decisions about the drug. There is no way, within the realm of possibility, than any future generation or human can have a say on decisions that present humans make. When considering these issues, there is no way to maintain that we remain unbiased and consider every side of the issue in a way that involves people who simply don’t exist yet. And therein lies the problem, because to decide for someone that cannot speak for themself is a blatant violation of their autonomy. In this case, since they only exist theoretically, it is much easier to do.
The most extreme argument for the use of of the drug only considers the benefits of the drug. The prolonging of lives is a positive thing, because it enables people to have more of the enjoyable things that occur in human existence. The prolonging of life also enables a way for humans to give back to the community, and to serve a larger collective in a more concrete way. “Making a difference” would be much easier under these circumstances. Part of the human experience is about the legacy someone leaves behind. No one wishes to be forgotten; it is almost like a second death. The impact that we humans make while we are still on this Earth is important to us, because it is almost comforting to know that we changed someone else’s lives with our own. This is why the prolonging of life is so important, and why the drug would be universally positive to present humans.
In summary, these drugs have a lot of potential to create very unpleasant situation of inequality and carelessness. It could ensure or ruin the future of the human race, and it could cause a lot of harm in the form of access, misuse, and selfishness. But, on the other hand, an extension of a lifespan could bring serious happiness to someone’s life. It could change many people’s lives for the better, and it could improve upon itself in the form of more solutions to the world’s problems.
Fairness and justice both play into the decisions of whether or not to regulate new medical technologies based on the effects they will have on the human population growth rate, and in turn, the earth. One extreme perspective is that these methods should not be considered or allowed at all based on the negative effects of this drug, the questionable safety of future generations of the human race, and the respect of the earth we live on. The future that they will shape will not be a beneficial one to humans because humans will experience a life of discomfort as a result of these drugs. They cause overpopulation, and may even cause a decreased value of human life. This future is so undesirable that the medicine is unquestionably out of the question. Another extreme perspective is that these methods must be allowed to continue because humans are not only superior beings, but a denial of any sort of medical care to anyone is unethical, and denial of time to a human, which is arguably the most valuable resource, is unthinkable regarding the human experience. With even a small chance that these drugs could enable the world to be a better place in terms of human achievement, accomplishment, problem-solving and general positive outcomes, the banning of this medicine makes no sense. Furthermore, humans do not have to answer to the environment, being the superior beings in intelligence and adaptability
After researching this topic thoroughly, I have concluded that currently the human population negatively affects the earth, and reforms must be put in place to change that, regardless of, and in addition to, these new medical technologies. I think that humans must take responsibility for their actions, and face the consequences of the negative impact that they have had on the Earth. The amenities and resources we use that are of the Earth are privileges, and abusing these privileges is how they will no longer become available. If these medicines are implemented, I think solutions to environmental problems should be made a higher priority to be utilized with this extra time that the medicines will give to us humans. Additionally, if this medicine is to be used, the prospective negative effect it has on the Earth must become positive, or it will not have been worth it to implement. To be comfortable with the situation of making these drugs available to the public, I would have to be assured that the benefits would outweigh the ranks, personally and generally.
In regards to fairness, I think it is subjective in relation to each stakeholder in this issue. Current humans, future humans, and the earth must all be considered in this issue, and an optimal solution would be one in which all three of those stakeholders and their other divisions would have to be rewarded in the implementation of these drugs. I firmly believe in widespread access to all medical care, and I also firmly believe that any sort of access to medical care is a sign of status and is an issue of fairness. I think that in order to feel comfortable with these medicines, equality must become a priority regarding the distribution of these drugs.I also think that the value of human life must be remembered within the use of these medicines. The human experience, is a wonderful thing, and is universally regarded to be precious and valuable. With more time being available to humans, and with this time being available because of these medicines, I really think that this time should not be taken for granted. It should be appreciated, and treated with care, just like human life. I understand and can identify with the obsession of living and longer and healthier life. The idea of getting to spend more of that time with my friends and family, pursuing the passions I love, and experiencing all the good and bad things that come with living is so tempting to me, but I also think that, like all things, this comes with a price. If I upheld the appreciation for human life that it deserves, I would be much more appreciative of the medicine itself. To clarify, I think that research, reforms and education must be preliminary steps before making educated decisions about these new drugs. The next priority is safety, but the question lies in what kind of safety, immediate or long-term, not only for the human race, but for the planet as well.
Final Statements and Solutions
Both ethical issues relate to the idea of the good of the many versus the good of the few. These longevity medications could ruin or save posterity by the effect that they would have on the environment. But the temptation of them and the addition of time to a human life is almost impossible to resist. It would be very difficult for present humans to make a decision to go any way on the issue without being biased, and one could argue that this decision is unfair, because the future generation would be affected by the outcome of this decision without any say in the matter. The allocation of priority between future and present humans, the earth, and the other organisms who live on it would also be biased because again, there would be no way to tell if someone speaking for the parties unable to speak would be biased or not. Should we hold off on the medicine simply because of the unfairness of the decisions being made? How big is the responsibility to consider those that cannot speak for themselves in these decisions, and who will keep those in check when they will only consider themselves. There are still many uncertainties regarding the process to decide an outcome of the use of these medicines, so maybe this means that a fair decision would be unable to be made.
We as humans might not be able to predict the future, let alone if and how people will use these drugs. But we can make a difference now, regarding the way we treat the Earth and other overpopulation precautions. Educating women in third world countries about methods of birth control and family planning in general had been known to decrease birth rates. With a basic understanding of family planning, these women, who might be having 5 or more children could stop getting pregnant, especially if they didn’t know how to prevent it in the first place. These medications and others like it must also continue to be tested. We cannot know what we don’t know, and these developments are fairly new, so more research is always good research. Educating the public about overpopulation is and will always be a way to make a change. Awareness leads to action and action leads to change. The more people know and understand about the consequences of their actions, the more reforms will be able to be put in place. I truly believe that we as a human race are capable of making an informed decision where all stakeholders, including the Earth can come out benefitted from this experience. Until we are capable of doing so, through, education, awareness and reforms should be our main priorities.