Time to get over ourselves?
As I listen to more folks in movements such as Paleo, I find that there are a set of people who have the impression that the following strategy is Truth:
The human body is made for survival. If we can channel evolution correctly, we can live forever. The holy grail. Surely the human body wants to live together right?
I don’t think that is necessarily correct. While I believe in the power of learning from our history and how it intersects with biology, I also think that the power is in propogating the species rather than a particular specimen. You know, the selfish gene.
What is the optimal life span for humans to propogate the selfish gene?
For a species such as the mayfly it is truly fleeting. How fullfilling is that life cycle for a single organism?
We have awareness, and can thus fight the system in different ways. Surely we want people to live as long as possible don’t we?
Life span had been growing fast, until the current generation. For the first time in recent history our childrens life expectancy is lower than ours (I will come back to that guilt in another epigenetic post!). Ouch.
If we are smart though we can overcome this. If you go back a hundred years you find that we died off much in part to infectious diseases. We got on top of that for the most part, but now we are dying due to degenerative diseases. At first you may think “oh, well, we died earlier before so never even got to this stage!” and “back then we didn’t even KNOW how some folks died”. Maybe, but maybe not. If we can get a handle on the environmental pollution (in all of its manifestations!) we can not only get older… but we can be healthy, active, and vibrant for so much longer.
If we pull that off, then what? We have finite resources, so we currently can’t infinitely scale. The Earth won’t be able to handle us all if the global population keeps growing, so that naturally means that if we want our species to keep multiplying we need space travel to kick in and we need to find other planets that we can occupy. Is NASA really not necessary?
Speaking of this topic and its relation to space, even Star Trek has talked about this. Do you remember the episode where Lwaxana Troi falls in love with a man who has to commit suicide as part of the culture? To balance resources and the deserve to bring in the future generations, this was their choice. It seems outrageous to some, but is it really?
Ideally, we find a way to scale in the cosmos.The good news about that scale is that hopefully we continue to diversify and breed new humans who can use the inate curiousity, imagination and ultimately… our creativety, to keep solving problems. That way, the selfish gene can keep on going.
After all, is our life span really that different than the may fly when we look relative to the history of everything?