Superlongevity Without Overpopulation
to reverberate and deserves a response. The purpose of this
essay is to address the essential concerns, provide current facts,
and dispel the errors behind the overpopulation worries.
As I will show, we have little reason to fear population growth
with or without extended lives. However, to bring into focus
an ethical issue, I will pretend for a moment that population
growth is or will become a serious problem. Would this give
us a strong reason for turning against the extension of human
No. Opposing extended life because, eventually, it might
add to existing problems would be an ethically irresponsible
response. Suppose you are a doctor faced with a child suffering
from pneumonia. Would you refuse to cure the child because
she would then be well enough to run around and step on the
toes of others? On the contrary, our responsibility lies in striv-
ing to live long and vitally while helping others do the same.
Once we are at work on this primary goal, we can focus more
energy on solving other challenges. Long, vital living at the
individual level certainly benefits from a healthy physical and
social environment. The superlongevity advocate would want
to help find solutions to any population issues. But dying is
not a responsible or healthy way to solve anything.
Besides, if we take seriously the idea of limiting life span so
as to control population, why not be more proactive about it?
Why not drastically reduce access to currently commonplace
medical treatments? Why not execute anyone reaching the age
of seventy? Once the collective goal of population growth is
accepted as overriding individual choices, it would seem hard
to resist this logic.