Essays on Infinite Lifespans
output. Fewer people are starving despite higher populations.
This does not mean they are feeling satisfied. Millions still go
hungry or are vulnerable to disruptions in supply. We need to
push to remove trade barriers, abolish price controls on agri-
culture (which discourage production and investment), and
pressure governments engaging in warfare and collectivization
to change their ways.
Nor should we expect pollution to worsen as population
grows. Contrary to popular belief, overall pollution in the
more developed countries has been decreasing for decades.
In the USA, levels of lead have dropped dramatically. Since the
1960s levels of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and
organic compounds have fallen despite a growing population.
Air quality in major urban areas continues to improve, and
the Great Lakes are returning toward earlier levels of purity.
 This is no accident. As we become wealthier, we have
more money to spare for a cleaner environment. When you
are longing for food, shelter, and other basics, you will not
spare much thought for the environment. So long as mecha-
nisms exist for converting desires for cleaner air and water and
space for recreation into the things themselves, we can expect
it to happen.
Most effective at spurring the positive changes are markets
price signals creating incentives for moves in the right direc-
tion. If polluters must pay for what they produce because their
activity intrudes on the property rights of others, they will
search for ways to make things with less pollution. Pollution
problems do exist. Most of them can be traced to a failure to
enforce private property rights, so that resources are treated as
free goods that need not be well managed. Fishing in unowned