The Disappearing Male
November 22, 2008 12:16 PM   Subscribe

“The Disappearing Male” is a one-hour documentary about one of the most important, and least publicized, issues facing the human species: the toxic threat to the male reproductive system. The whole documentary is on Google Video.
posted by rageagainsttherobots (118 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just became the father of an apparently healthy child six days ago. Ladies should contact me if they're having trouble finding good spooge. Email's in my profile.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:19 PM on November 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Just how do you mean that, sir?
posted by isopraxis at 12:20 PM on November 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:24 PM on November 22, 2008 [9 favorites]


Ow, my balls!
posted by Thorzdad at 12:26 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Decreased fertility is a boon, not a threat. World's full.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:26 PM on November 22, 2008 [17 favorites]


Decreased fertility is a boon, not a threat. World's full.

Hate to be that guy but let's fund space colonization.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 12:34 PM on November 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


After four healthy children (including the recent accidental twins), I had a vasectomy yesterday. Ladies who have been contacting me when they have trouble finding good spooge, should stop.
posted by CaseyB at 12:40 PM on November 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, the happy few fertile that are left will be the most resistant to the toxins, and they can presumably pass that on to their offspring. As we all know, not that many men can fertilize a lot of women.

So, no problem!
posted by jamjam at 12:42 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I could fertilize a lot of women.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:45 PM on November 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is this controlling for the high skew in countries like India and China, in the reverse direction? As for fertility problems and cancer, does the latter control for the effect of an aging population trying to make babies, and people coming down with other sorts of cancer?
posted by Phalene at 12:48 PM on November 22, 2008


This feels like a double. There's a balls joke the somewhere.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:50 PM on November 22, 2008


This germ, when distributed in the atmosphere will make all women beautiful and destroy all men over 4'6". Please handle these capsules with care.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:17 PM on November 22, 2008


We're betting this thread wouldn't be quite so full of lulz if it was about vanishing vaginas.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 1:17 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


So there might be something wrong with my reproductive system? I'll have my wife go in for a closer look.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:18 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Haha, space colonization. You're kidding, right? Let's do the numbers.

I'll go with a secret number I use to approximate the number of births per day: 40,000. Bonus points to anyone who gets it. Now, let's try to solve our overpopulation problem with space colonization. We pack a dozen folks onto a space shuttle, so we need about 3,333 dot three bar shuttles per diem. If you run the numbers on that, you get a shuttle launching a little less than once every twenty-six seconds. That's right ... the sky would continually boom with the launching of shuttles.

Aside from the obvious question, "Where's all the money coming from?" we could ask "Where would they be going?" The answer is nowhere. We'd just shoot folks up into the sky to die. Eventually we'd get enough biomass of corpses that would could start a biosphere of some kind going, but we might as well just line them up four wide and walk them into the sea; it'd be cheaper.

I'm no subscriber to the Gaia hypothesis, but the sheer volume of humans running about and mucking up the works means that problems like these will arise again and again as we swim about in a biosphere that looks increasingly like "humans and things humans do."
posted by adipocere at 1:23 PM on November 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


Guess that'd make Alaska gloriously toxin-free, amirite?

This has been your shudder-inducing Sarah Palin oneliner for the hour of 1600 EST, Saturday 11/22/08. Sarah Palin: NEVAR FORGET
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:25 PM on November 22, 2008


For An Infinity of Monkeys:
Vanishing Vaginas. And I don't want to know why this case history was conducted at a leprosy clinic in Sri Lanka.
posted by terranova at 1:32 PM on November 22, 2008


I for one would be willing to donate to that Norwegian seed vault. Not that kind of seed you say...
posted by MikeMc at 1:38 PM on November 22, 2008


Fuck 'em!
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 1:40 PM on November 22, 2008


And I don't want to know why this case history was conducted at a leprosy clinic in Sri Lanka.

The recession is hitting parts manufacturers in every industry.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:41 PM on November 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


Last one out turns off the lights.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:41 PM on November 22, 2008


I'll go with a secret number I use to approximate the number of births per day: 40,000.

I thought that was the number being reaped, not sown.
posted by stargell at 1:52 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, Mayor Curley.
posted by jokeefe at 1:54 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tim Ferriss wrote a blog post called, "How to store sperm in 4 steps".
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 1:55 PM on November 22, 2008


adipocere: space elevator

I'm serious; if we want to reduce our crushing ecological footprint, collecting power in orbit and beaming it down is a good way to start. The solar energy input to earth vastly exceeds all human energy consumption. Once we have a relatively inexpensive way to escape our gravity well (space elevator!), large scale engineering projects in earth orbit are very feasible. The tether is, AFAIK, the remaining technological impediment to building a space elevator, and I have faith in materials science. I think the immediate benefits of space colonization are more along the lines of shifting our resource footprint offworld. Colonization can wait.

Not that we shouldn't be deploying wind, solar, geo, and hydro installations on the ground, working on the horrible inefficiency and consumptive tendencies of the first world, and working to reduce population growth in developing countries. However, all of that direct solar radiation and all of those asteroids made of useful metals are out there waiting for us.

Anyways, to add something related to the original post, I wonder whether this is being accounted for in any of the models estimating the peak and decline of world population expected around 2050.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 1:59 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tim Ferriss wrote a blog post called, "How to store sperm in 4 steps".

Interestingly, Tim Ferriss doesn't need to reproduce personally at all. He uses virtual assistants and a complicated affiliate system to have people reproduce on his behalf, while he sleeps.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:01 PM on November 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


...one of the most important, and least understated, issues facing the human species: the toxic threat to the male reproductive system.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 2:05 PM on November 22, 2008


"Tim Ferriss wrote a blog post called, How to store sperm in 4 steps.

Interestingly, Tim Ferriss doesn't need to reproduce personally at all. He uses virtual assistants and a complicated affiliate system to have people reproduce on his behalf, while he sleeps."

Nice one game warden.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 2:10 PM on November 22, 2008


I'd really like to see the numbers. Stats like this can be misleading, usually due to measuring bias of some sort. Also, this, from the sidebar, is hilarious:

"Some researchers say that declining male fertility rates could be the first sign of extinction."

How 'bout this: the first sign of extinction was when we figured out that all species become extinct.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:14 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll go with a secret number I use to approximate the number of births per day: 40,000. Bonus points to anyone who gets it. Now, let's try to solve our overpopulation problem with space colonization. We pack a dozen folks onto a space shuttle, so we need about 3,333 dot three bar shuttles per diem. If you run the numbers on that, you get a shuttle launching a little less than once every twenty-six seconds. That's right ... the sky would continually boom with the launching of shuttles.

I don't have an opinion in colonizing space one way or the other, but aren't you assuming that everyone on the planet earth would be launched into space? What if there were a lottery, or a training course you had to pass, or even just a secret project being conducted by a few rich guys? You don't have enough variables in your example.

The fact is, we've entered a new age of exploration and there isn't any turning back from it. Just as people wanted, needed to cross oceans centuries ago, they're wanting to go into space today. Now that that rubicon has been crossed about 40 years ago, there isn't any turning back. People will move into space, eventually.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:19 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody see or read Children of Men? (novel by P.D. James)
posted by spock at 2:32 PM on November 22, 2008


Yes. I did.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:36 PM on November 22, 2008


No, Marisa. We're talking about solving overpopulation with space colonization, not getting the whole planet out there. Nor are we talking about getting people out there in case the Earth blows up, so the human race can go on. It's a "World's full" problem we're discussing.

Yeah, my umlaut-derived figure only covers the number of deaths; since the population is increasing, the births exceed the deaths. It's just a nice vaguely-round number to cover it. If we launched 40,000 out per diem, we'd probably keep the population on Earth at somewhere around zero growth. Now, I'm sure we can quibble over a percentage point or two, but I used that example just to point out that we'd have to have a shuttle launching every half minute. I'm not going for accuracy so much as I am trying to illustrate the kind of massive resource expenditure we'd need for space colonization to begin to deal with overpopulation. The actual number of births per day is about 300,000. I'm chucking out just 40,000 every day because it certainly won't get us into negative growth, it's a little Biblical, and ... well ... BLUE OYSTER CULT, BABY.

Think about that. Just to keep the population even, a spaceship with a dozen people aboard launching every thirty seconds. All day, all night, we'd hear the rumble of shuttles launching ... just to stay at somewhere over six billion people. A vast assembly line, probably stretching from Florida through Georgia, pumping out a completed Columbia ready-to-go, folks boarding it and launching. The sheer amount of contrails would leave the sky looking like God had a split with his other personalities and decided to play Tic-Tac-Toe.

Space elevator? Still the same issue. You still have to ship a dozen people up the Beanstalk every thirty seconds, and have a place for them to go and live once they get there. Oh, and they have to feed themselves, too.

The numbers are terrifying. Even if you jigger them in an optimistic direction at every operation, it's just not a solution. It's a sweet little dream to have, but it's one that doesn't look at all at the harsh realities. We can get into space, but it will have absolutely no bearing on solving the issue of overpopulation, unless we bring back some 1950's cheesy virus that survived on our space probes, thrived on the radiation, then came back in a horrible new form to kill us all.
posted by adipocere at 2:38 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


My father was a farmer
But his head was in the sky
He worked everyday but Sunday
Till the day he died

He prayed for rain and thunder
And listened for the sound
In the dry years he went under
He never got off the ground

We all dream when we're younger
That we will do great things
Me, I used to have a hunger
To wear a pilot's wings

But the circles that I ran in
Turned my head around
And the plains I had my plans in
Never got off the ground

Don't raise your hopes
You hear so many say
The higher they get
The closer they are to flying away

They say there but for fortune
Is the way it would have been
If we could take a bigger portion
We'd fill our hands again

You see them on the sidewalks
In the parks all over town
Those who've taken flight
Never got off the ground
posted by Restless Day at 2:45 PM on November 22, 2008


(Alison Krauss)
posted by Restless Day at 2:59 PM on November 22, 2008


The thing I try to remember about space colonization is that nowhere in the universe is more hospitable than the top of Mount Everest. It's got the right gravity, the right air, sun, no toxins, and it's very close to re-supply. So until we're standing room only at the top of the Himalayas we're not colonising Mars.

Our robot descendants might, though!
posted by alasdair at 2:59 PM on November 22, 2008 [6 favorites]


People will move into space, eventually.

I think it's debatable whether we will reach the point where even attempting permanent, self-sustaining settlements on other planets or space arcs before society as we know it collapses.

I'm not saying the collapse of society is coming soon. I'm saying getting to the point where it's possible to attempt permanent, self-sustaining settlements in space could be a long, long way off.

Some of the major obstacles include:

Human physiology and psychology - finding viable ways for us to live entire lifetimes in non-earth gravity, duplicating earth gravity on a very large scale on a spaceship, or finding a planet with approximately 1 earth gravity. Also living entire lifetimes under conditions other than normal earth sunlight and day length, or duplicating that.

Either achieving zero population change or terraforming other worlds - if we make smaller-scale settlements, such as space arcs, or enclosed "bio-domes" on other worlds, they'll need to be able to sustain future generations with exactly the same resources they left with. Perhaps with bio-domes it would be possible to continue expanding them with resources found on the alien worlds (bringing in more resources from earth is not self-sustaining, and thus cheating), but eventually a stopping point is reached, or the whole world has been effectively terraformed. Which brings me to my point that terraforming an entire world would be ridiculously impossible. We can't even keep our own under control.

Space travel - if we want to colonize other planets, getting there is a real challenge. We would need space arcs that are themselves at least sustainable on a time scale of generations, or the ability to travel faster than light. Or I guess really advanced cryogenic technology. I don't think mars or any other bodies in the solar system will ever make viable self-sustaining human settlements, because of our physiology and psychology, so the only other option is space station habitats within the solar system. Probably they would be relying on help from earth, since it's in the neighborhood, so they wouldn't be self-sustaining. We could try building self-sustaining settlements withing the solar system, for kicks, but whatever. Also, we'd need to build space elevators before any of the above would be anything but prohibitively expensive.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:05 PM on November 22, 2008


Space colonization would be done to escape earth, not save it.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:08 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


And man, that video is super-alarmist.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:10 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I, for one, welcome our new robot descendants.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:11 PM on November 22, 2008


I wonder if bukkake stars have also been noticing a decline in the quality of sperm.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:13 PM on November 22, 2008


adipocere;

Human population is going to level off around 2050, there are many demographic indicators pointing to this. Here in the U.S., we are already below replacement level except for the buoying effect of immigration, and births per woman are dropping around the world. The question is where we will be in 2050 (9 billion is the midrange number, IIRC), and what our resource footprint will be. So, we are not going to simply breed ourselves out of resources. Your neo-Malthusian argument that population growth is the entirety of the problem is fundamentally flawed in terms of actually addressing our impact on the planet. The neo-Malthusian viewpoint also implies that the developing world is the most at fault since birth rates are much higher over there in Africa and India. Overconsumption by a minority of the planet's inhabitants is at least as important. Fortunately, our current level of inefficiency is so great that we have plenty of room for improvement without needing to abandon the fruits of the information age. New industrial frameworks such as eco-effectiveness point the way towards realizing modes of production that eliminate the idea of waste entirely (google the Interface carpet company).

I'm not sure if you actually read my post, because I explicitly state that I am not arguing for space exploration and colonization as a means of dumping population. As you point out, it isn't feasible. It also isn't necessary since population isn't going to increase forever. It is, however, a viable means for reducing the overall ecological footprint of the human species, along with a number of terrestrial solutions that need to be implemented first.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 3:13 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, we'd need to build space elevators before any of the above would be anything but prohibitively expensive.

We could build a Lofstrom Loop today, using existing materials and technology. No waiting for fancy A-1 grade unobtanium to build space elevators. If we build a Lofstrom Loop first we'll probably find all kinds of useful unobtanium in the space factories we could then build, and then we could build space elevators.
posted by loquacious at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


I probably should not have my laptop on my lap while I watch this.
posted by parmanparman at 3:27 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


My father was a farmer
But his head was in the sky
He worked everyday but Sunday
Till the day he died


I think it's more like Inutil from In The Heights, myself.
posted by Tehanu at 3:48 PM on November 22, 2008


Derive the Hamiltonian...: Once we have a relatively inexpensive way to escape our gravity well (space elevator!), large scale engineering projects in earth orbit are very feasible

Having just checked the update on large-scale engineering projects in Dubai (and barely containing the urge to throw up) I am left to hope that population control will take the well-tested route of merciless culling of millions in wars spurred by momentary and absurd causes.
posted by Laotic at 3:53 PM on November 22, 2008


In other news, Michael Jackson converted to Islam.
posted by Laotic at 3:54 PM on November 22, 2008


My seed is pure
posted by drezdn at 3:56 PM on November 22, 2008


No waiting for fancy A-1 grade unobtanium to build space elevators.

If we would just stop holding out for unobtanium and use existing handwavium technology we'd be much further along...
posted by MikeMc at 3:56 PM on November 22, 2008


As Citizen Premier said, the point of space colonization isn't to solve overpopulation here. It's to start over, and since the technology will exist much sooner for that second world, presumably it will prevent human overpopulation in places other than Earth indefinitely, while also promoting a continuation of the species.

Why it's so important to propagate our species is beyond me, though. On a smaller scale, I don't understand why people have children, really, other than as some kind of "more of me!" ego trip or weird psychological escape from mortality.

(I know, I know: I'm cruel and small-minded.)
posted by rokusan at 3:56 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Laotic: So, can you see the difference between large scale engineering projects initiated by oil barons awash in wealth and self-importance and large scale engineering projects initiated to provide benefits for all of humanity? Less snark please, and maybe a little more faith in humanity. Dubai reminds me of Shelly's famous poem: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Once the oil runs out, I imagine Dubai as a series of weathered relics in the desert. There is no ecological reason to have a city that large there.

Am I the only person in this thread who has read the research and realizes that human population is not going to expand exponentially? Seriously, we're going to stabilize. However, we can still crash our support system by increasing and exporting first world overconsumption.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 4:03 PM on November 22, 2008


If we would just stop holding out for unobtanium and use existing handwavium technology we'd be much further along...

Well, as a launch technology a launch loop isn't handwavium outside of the fact it hasn't been built.

But as a cure for the human condition I'm not so sure.
posted by loquacious at 4:04 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't read the thread, i'm currently watching the video, but the book "Our Stolen Future" outlines this as one of the major results of endocrine disruption due to the environmental effects of modern chemistry.

And, if you paid attention, a lot of the danger of endocrine disruption is explained in "Silent Spring"; but we got distracted by the warnings about cancer in that work.
posted by eustatic at 4:18 PM on November 22, 2008


I'm not unaware of the leveling off theory. My feeling is that we'll have more or less stripped everything bare by then. It isn't simply that we're getting more people, it's that they now all want to live like Americans. Nine billion folks in 2050, all wanting to live the American lifestyle ... well, plug that into any sustainability equations and it looks kinda bad.
posted by adipocere at 4:21 PM on November 22, 2008


I think it's debatable whether we will reach the point where even attempting permanent, self-sustaining settlements on other planets or space arcs before society as we know it collapses.

I'm not saying the collapse of society is coming soon. I'm saying getting to the point where it's possible to attempt permanent, self-sustaining settlements in space could be a long, long way off.


This, right here, is the only real question in the space issue - will we keep from destroying each other, or at least keep from reducing our world to some global Mad Max scenario, before we reach space? Perhaps I'm being optimistic about human nature. It wouldn't be the first time. But one thing I do know about people, is that once they've crossed a line of tentative exploration, there is no turning back. They cross oceans to die in small numbers of cold and starvation, but they keep crossing oceans until they have brought that land to its knees. They will do the same to space, provided they don't exterminate each other first.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:24 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]



I did not watch the video, but the "fact sheet" is deeply problematic, simply starting with the autism and ADHD stuff. While some researchers believe there has been some genuine increase in autism, a lot of the apparent increase can be accounted for by the decrease in diagnoses of mental retardation-- in other words, a lot of the kids that would formerly have been given that diagnosis are now being called autistic.

No one knows what the true numbers are because it's impossible to know if in the past, more autistic people were wrongly given the retardation diagnosis or if now, it's the reverse.

With ADHD, there's so much more awareness of the condition now-- and so much desire not to have any "bad" kids, only kids with medical or psychological problems-- that again, it's impossible to know if it's actually increasing. I'm not saying this is wrong-- but it doesn't tell you whether or not ADHD is actually increasing. Plus, when you keep kids sitting still much longer than you ever did before, you are going to get a rise in this diagnosis whether it's real or not.

With regard to the sperm count stuff, a lot of the old statistics are problematic because a lot of the early measurements came from people who sought help for infertility. Obviously, this is going to bias your sample. There's no way to make the old samples more representative and so it's hard to compare.

There was also much more stigma around it in the past so again, there's bound to be a past under-reporting and present increased reporting (due not only to stigma reduction but to more acceptable solutions like IVF).
posted by Maias at 4:26 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, if I gather what some of you are proposing correctly. To compensate for over-population, we would need to take on large scale engineering projects that may or may not do us any good?

So where does the large scale project of educating people on proper birth control methods come into play in these hypothetical scearios?
posted by P.o.B. at 4:31 PM on November 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Now, let's try to solve our overpopulation problem with space colonization.

Space colonization doesn't make overpopulation disappear. It makes overpopulation become not (as much of) a problem. Because now we have a backup planet in case this one keels over.
posted by DU at 4:36 PM on November 22, 2008


If we launched 40,000 out per diem, we'd probably keep the population on Earth at somewhere around zero growth. Now, I'm sure we can quibble over a percentage point or two, but I used that example just to point out that we'd have to have a shuttle launching every half minute.

"Next stop, ZeepZorp Five. Stand clear udda closin' dawrs.."
posted by jonmc at 4:44 PM on November 22, 2008


Space colonization is a fantasy; unrealizable, distracting, and a waste of time and thought. It's not going to happen. Ever. We need to learn how to manage this planet, which is the only one we have or ever will have. Full stop.
posted by jokeefe at 4:52 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Space colonization is a fantasy; unrealizable, distracting, and a waste of time and thought.

Starbucks needs new locations, lady.
posted by jonmc at 4:54 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nine billion folks in 2050, all wanting to live the American lifestyle

Given the way things are gong, the American lifestyle in 2050 may not be some to aspire to.
posted by stargell at 4:57 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Male birth rates have declined. Since 1970 there have been nearly 3 million fewer baby boys.

Hold it, what? I thought that because of selective abortion in China and India those countries were facing severe imbalances in sex ratios. Do they mean "fewer baby boys" only in Europe and North America, or something?
posted by jokeefe at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


going, going, gong!
posted by stargell at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2008


Starbucks needs new locations, lady.

They just opened two new stores within walking distance of my apartment. I suppose at some point they will just cover the entire surface of the globe, then.
posted by jokeefe at 4:59 PM on November 22, 2008




adicopere:
Well, we certainly won't have run out of fossil fuels by 2050 (take a look at coal reserves in the U.S. and oil shale available in Canada). The damage we've done via fossil fuels will probably be catastrophic at that point. We'll definitely be short on a number of metals, leading to substitution and innovation (bioengineering, anyone?). Many regions of the world will be very short on fresh water. But, barring nuclear war or Venus-style runaway climate change, humanity and the biosphere won't be doomed. Talking about our "inevitable" doom seems to me like an excuse for not implementing personal change and joining the broader movement for sustainability.

Why do people across the world want to live like Americans? It isn't too late for the population of the U.S. to take the reins of consumerism and prevent this fucking system from shitting and trampling on the rest of the world. After that, we can free ourselves. Americans don't live like Americans anymore, we live like consumers. Culture has been turned into branding.

P.o.B.: What you blithely call the "large scale project of educating people on birth control" is part of the large scale project of achieving worldwide equity so that those stuck in poverty are not required by their economic circumstances to have many children. It isn't just that the poor don't know about birth control. Often they do, and often the condoms are available. However, due to the legacy of traditionally high child mortality rates and the need for children as manual labor sources, birth rates remain high. Several friends who did Peace Corps in Africa have independently told me that it is incredibly fucking frustrating when one can get $500 to stage a play about safe sex, but one cannot get any money to implement a small infrastructure improvement that will make daily life a little easier or the local economy more profitable. And I guess I should state one more time, for the record: population growth will level off and is only part of the total problem.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:02 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Restless Day: and then space will do the same to us, I presume?

I really like that sentence (by Marisa...), and thought it intriguing/telling/whatever that she put it in the third person.

Marisa..., are you an alien?
posted by nosila at 5:12 PM on November 22, 2008


Saying, "space colonization" in response to the overpopulation issue is the equivalent of shouting SCIENCE! Colonies won't solve any problems, period, for anyone, even if they ever become viable, which I really sort of doubt.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:17 PM on November 22, 2008


If this i true the day may come when a guy may be able to get paid to make babies rather then paying when babies are made...
posted by BoldStepDesign at 5:33 PM on November 22, 2008


Sadder than the claim that space colonization is "unrealizable" is the assumption that anything that is a "fantasy" is also unrealizable (and a "distraction"?!)

You say "fantasy" I say "dream".
posted by DU at 5:41 PM on November 22, 2008


We need to learn how to manage this planet

I agree 100%. I do not see space exploration as a panacea to humanity's problems; just as colonizing the "new world" didn't solve humanity's problems, either. It just made them cover a greater geographical area. I just accept space colonization as a natural processation to what has historically proven to be one of many human MOs - the desire to explore, and then colonize.

Marisa..., are you an alien?

chown -R us ./*base
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:45 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


If this i true the day may come when a guy may be able to get paid to make babies rather then paying when babies are made...

We can only hope. Now I have a reason not to get the vasectomy my wife wants me to get. "But honey, it's a potential profit center!"
posted by MikeMc at 5:47 PM on November 22, 2008


Space colonization FTW.
posted by humannaire at 5:54 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Decreased fertility is a boon, not a threat. World's full.

It's unlikely that decreased fertility caused by environmental chemicals will result in the kind decreased fertility rates needed to address so-called overpopulation.

Instead, although it sounds counterintuitive, the only way to deal with overpopulation is to reduce infant mortality rates. It's the only way. Reduced infant mortality rates have allowed "slow-growth" nations and regions like Japan, North America and Europe (and increasingly China) to curb population and increase personal prosperity.

Many of the countries with the world's largest and fastest-growing populations rely on subsistence agriculture. You need a large family to increase farm productivity. In the past, before advanced medicines and medical techniques, and before increased agricultural productivity and better nutrition, there was no way to improve infant mortality, so populations remained static or grew slowly.

Now, in countries such as Bangladesh or Indonesia, infant mortality has been reduced *just enough* to increase the overall fertility rate, but because of continuing lack of access to first-class medical care and food, still too many kids are dying, and people keep producing babies to make up for that.

Improve living conditions, increase agricultural productivity, and implement a First-World system of medical care, and fertility rates will decline.

Then we can stop talking about Malthusian scenarios of forcibly decreasing individual fertility, which is reminiscent of eugenics.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:11 PM on November 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


The fact is, we've entered a new age of exploration and there isn't any turning back from it. Just as people wanted, needed to cross oceans centuries ago, they're wanting to go into space today. Now that that rubicon has been crossed about 40 years ago, there isn't any turning back. People will move into space, eventually.

Hear, hear!
posted by humannaire at 6:33 PM on November 22, 2008


What you blithely call the "large scale project of educating people on birth control" is part of the large scale project of achieving worldwide equity

Birthrates have levelled off in the profoundly iniquitous parts of the world most mefites live in.
posted by ~ at 6:33 PM on November 22, 2008


Space colonization is a fantasy; unrealizable, distracting, and a waste of time and thought. It's not going to happen. Ever. We need to learn how to manage this planet, which is the only one we have or ever will have. Full stop.

A Metaphor:
Once upon a time, there was a dialog between two groups of monkeys. One group of monkeys decided that it was going to permanently move down from the tree and out onto the ground.

"No way," said the other group of monkey. "Monkeys will always live in trees. We're staying."

And they did!

An Inference:
Here in the future, another dialog is underway, also between two groups. One group of us has decided that it is going to permanently move away from the planet and out into the universe.

"No way," says the other group. "Humans live on the planet. We're staying!"

And you will!
posted by humannaire at 7:05 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


And one other thing.

We're talking about solving overpopulation with space colonization, not getting the whole planet out there. Nor are we talking about getting people out there in case the Earth blows up, so the human race can go on. It's a "World's full" problem we're discussing.

I thought it was a world that where the male population is disappearing as well as becoming infertile we were discussing. But no males = no sperm = no babies. So much for that problem!

Now let's get back to those spaceships!
posted by humannaire at 7:18 PM on November 22, 2008


The fact is, we've entered a new age of exploration and there isn't any turning back from it. Just as people wanted, needed to cross oceans centuries ago, they're wanting to go into space today. Now that that rubicon has been crossed about 40 years ago, there isn't any turning back. People will move into space, eventually.

The only way this situation would be equivalent to exploration of the oceans is if the only other continent to the one you lived on was Antarctica and it was a million miles away.

Space may be explored. Space will never be colonized. It's just an idiotic idea from top to bottom. Where are you going to colonize?

Other star systems - Everything we've learned about physics tells us that interstellar travel is a fantasy and always will be. There will never be a faster-than-light drive. Nobody will ever volunteer for a generation ship and the children would probably tear the place apart in their rage once they found out there were going to live and die in a small metal box and it was their parent's fault. Cold-sleep might work - maybe - but we're still talking about an expense that would bankrupt the entire planet to send one small ship. Also, getting anywhere but a neighboring system would be ridiculously hard - and planetology suggests that for a planet to be habitable, it not only has to have evolved life but also have progressed to a later point in development, but not so far there are local diseases that will wipe out the colonists. Habitable planets are probably incredibly rare.

Other planets in our solar system - Even the most hospitable bodies in the solar system, Mars and the moon, are infinitely more hostile than Antarctica and vastly more difficult to get to. Until we run out of space to build in Antarctica and the northern Canadian islands, there's no point.

Orbit - why? It's hard to get to and no materials are available locally. It would be far cheaper, easier, and it would make more sense to just float an entire city in the ocean.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:18 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Humanaire, that's a poor metaphor. Monkeys didn't move down out of the trees overnight. The solution to the problems confronting space colonization that you're proposing through your metaphor is evolution. That sort of takes a while. We might as well wait for an infinite number of monkeys type out exact instructions on how to surpass the speed of light.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 7:49 PM on November 22, 2008


So...what comes first for human technology advances--space colonization or spermless reproduction? My guess is the latter, but I am a person that knows little about both and even less about which if any will ever become necessary.
posted by lampoil at 7:49 PM on November 22, 2008


To look at it morbidly, attempts at space colonization will help solve over population in that many of the attempts will probably be unsuccessful. Personally, I think it's worth a shot though.
posted by drezdn at 7:55 PM on November 22, 2008


Why it's so important to propagate our species is beyond me, though.

Because it's fun, the initial construction phase anyway. Also, something about biological imperative or something.
posted by MikeMc at 8:40 PM on November 22, 2008


This bodes well for the future of space colonization. Still, the whole colonization/overpopulation discussion is missing the point. According to the documentary there are tens of thousands of chemical products that have never been tested for their effects on the human body and there is some evidence that some of these have serious effects on the health of little boys. Shouldn't our governments, U.S. and Canada, adopt a position more like that of the E.U. where the burden of proof is the manufacturer than waiting for some study to definitively prove a substance is harmful? The film claims only a handful of chemicals have been banned in the last 30 years or so out of tens of thousands that have been brought onto the market. I don't have that much faith in ability of industry to regulate itself.
posted by Tashtego at 8:56 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Space colonization is a fantasy; unrealizable, distracting, and a waste of time and thought. It's not going to happen. Ever.

Don't underestimate the possibilities. A hundred years ago people who weren't seriously "in the know" about science might have just started hearing about this german guy named Einstein. And I bet 20 years ago you were yet to send your first email.
posted by chimaera at 9:20 PM on November 22, 2008


I'm actually quite the cynic when it comes to canned-human space exploration/colonization. Robots do it better and cheaper, at least for now.

But one hundred years ago people probably thought we'd never make it to the moon either. Damn those Kuhnian paradigm shifts.
posted by bardic at 9:34 PM on November 22, 2008


Space may be explored. Space will never be colonized. It's just an idiotic idea from top to bottom.

Never? I strongly disagree. Everything you've mentioned predicates itself on current technology. There are bounds that still need to be crossed, to be sure; maintenance of the craft, a power source, producing food, water and air will take tremendous leaps in technology to achieve. But we're able to spend longer and longer durations in space, having gone from a few minutes in the 1960s to several months today. Permanent settlements are not an impossible extrapolation to make. A distant one, yes, but, unless human beings - particularly wealthy ones - alter their nature and stop giving a crap about moving further out, and staying out, it's likely inevitable.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:31 PM on November 22, 2008


Space colonization is a fantasy; unrealizable, distracting, and a waste of time and thought. It's not going to happen. Ever.

Don't underestimate the possibilities. A hundred years ago people who weren't seriously "in the know" about science might have just started hearing about this german guy named Einstein. And I bet 20 years ago you were yet to send your first email.


Advances in scientific theory and technology do not equal magic-- i.e. the handwaving dispatch of the physical and inarguable barriers to colonizing space. In other words, what Mitrovarr said. Space travel is a pipe dream, as I've said before: even if we could figure out how to keep human beings alive in the most inhospitable environment imaginable, where would they go? I'm all for the mechanized exploration of the solar system-- the Hubble telescope, the Mars lander; bring them on. I have a friend who works at NASA. Some days I think it would be pretty cool to get human beings to Mars (though getting them back is kind of problematic, to say the least). But as for going further, or establishing a base there? The difficulties are insurmountable, and not in a "science and positive thinking will conquer all difficulties!" kind of way, but in a "there are physical limitations here" kind of way.

This is a bit of a trigger issue with me-- we're living on a planet with rapidly diminishing resources, we can't figure out how to deal with climate change and global warming-- or if we have an idea what to do, we can't organize ourselves to do it-- half the planet doesn't have access to clean drinking water, we're emptying the seas, etcetera, and some suggest that the answer to this is to believe, to actually postulate, that Star Trek will somehow be our actual future? It's wishful thinking, nothing more.
posted by jokeefe at 10:53 PM on November 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


In other words, believing that colonizing space will help to solve any of our problems is about on par with believing that we don't need to worry about the environment because the Rapture is right around the corner.
posted by jokeefe at 11:08 PM on November 22, 2008 [9 favorites]


Wow. This was pretty bad.
posted by anatinus at 1:12 AM on November 23, 2008


NO ONE IS SUGGESTING THAT SPACE COLONIZATION IS A SOLUTION TO OVERPOPULATION.
posted by breath at 1:23 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry for ranting. The derail started fast, about four comments in, here. I guess it was all downhill after that.
posted by jokeefe at 1:30 AM on November 23, 2008


What's that old corporate motto, "Bitter living through chemistry"?
posted by Cranberry at 1:47 AM on November 23, 2008


In five years, the penis will be obsolete,” the salesman said.
posted by hattifattener at 2:31 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pat Frank's SF novel Mr. Adam was about a planet of nearly all sterile males. Too bad he didn't use plastics instead of nuclear fallout because then he could have reached SF prophet status. I liked Mr. Adam better than Children of Men because of the sexual tension.
posted by Bitter soylent at 4:47 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other words, believing that colonizing space will help to solve any of our problems is about on par with believing that we don't need to worry about the environment because the Rapture is right around the corner.

Let's not go overboard here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:48 AM on November 23, 2008


Space colonization is a fantasy

Space will never be colonized.

Let us substitute "space migration" for "colonization"...colonialism connotes imperialism and subjugation in my mind. These concepts seem irrelevant and barbaric on earth, they would have no meaning to a civilization sufficiently advanced to successfully migrate off of the planet. Such space migration would (I speculate) be a result of the species solving the problematic aspects of terrestrial existence, rather than a solution to the perceived overpopulation issues, which I don't think anyone has proposed in this thread. As the space exploration detractors (perhaps they would prefer to be called "realists", "pragmatists," etc.) have pointed out here, the practical considerations of interstellar travel would perforce require maturity of technology, as well as maturity of humanity. The former without the latter produces endlessly advancing weapons of mass destruction, without a reason for their application. The expansion of our species from mother earth to the stars, should we continue to live long enough to get the chance, would represent an evolutionary development from the womb-like planet into the boundless playground of the cosmos. I can think of no greater long-term hope for humanity than to peacefully enjoy and explore (relative) infinite space-time, a kingdom of eternity that I believe we are heir to. I may not see a space-faring vessel built in my lifetime, but I do not deride the lofty ambition as fantasy, nor will I chastise myself for entertaining the notion. "If you will it, it is no dream." Although I will say it seems absurdly premature to speculate on space migration when whole populations on this planet are starving to death, a terrestrial problem that is and has been solvable with our existing technological capabilities. The cessation of poverty and hunger is possible NOW, in our lifetimes, it is not a hopeless ideal, we have the means, we need only apply the will. Until we do this then perhaps the human race should be regarded as a cancer in shoes that does not deserve to be propagated indefinitely throughout the universe.

Oh, I mean: I also have plenty of sperm on my hands.
posted by Curry at 8:07 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, I mean: I also have plenty of sperm on my hands.

You may want to consider some antibacterial soap and a clean towel...
posted by MikeMc at 9:01 AM on November 23, 2008


rokusan writes "I don't understand why people have children, really, other than as some kind of 'more of me!' ego trip or weird psychological escape from mortality."

Answer: So we have someone to leave all our shit to when we die.

Real answer: Because I want a kid. But the wife and I are shooting for less-than-replacement here - two of us, one kid. That's it.

The other thing to consider is that those of us planning on leaving offspring around after we die are quite likely more interested in preserving some quality of life for those kids too. We don't want to leave our kid in some toxic future. We're all for preserving everything we can.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Space colonization is a fantasy; unrealizable, distracting, and a waste of time and thought.
> It's not going to happen. Ever. We need to learn how to manage this planet, which is the only one
> we have or ever will have. Full stop.
> posted by jokeefe at 7:52 PM on November 22 [+] [!]

jokeefe, that "we" is an enormous foggy abstraction that doesn't refer to any existing or realizable group. It's a figment, an Easter bunny. The number of people it would take to "manage the planet," out of the billions there are, all isolated and sequestered into little monkey tribes--by distance, by language, by education, by income, by culture, by differing life experience and belief systems and fundamental assumptions, by lack of universal instantaneous ESP--all of them somehow on the same page at the same time about saving the planet? That's what we need? OK then, despair time.

Or rather (and this too will strike some as despair,) the bottleneck: plan on it.
posted by jfuller at 10:05 AM on November 23, 2008


jfuller: That's exactly what I mean.

Space migrationists: where exactly is it that you're going to migrate to?
posted by jokeefe at 10:34 AM on November 23, 2008


rokusan writes "I don't understand why people have children, really, other than as some kind of 'more of me!' ego trip or weird psychological escape from mortality."

Answer: So we have someone to leave all our shit to when we die.

Real answer: Because I want a kid.


Because having a child, raising a child, is one of the great and profound human experiences which will teach you more humility and more about love and more about what it means to be a mortal being than you can imagine? Also, you get to relive your own childhood in surprising ways, forgive your own parents, and other stuff.
posted by jokeefe at 10:38 AM on November 23, 2008


Space migrationists: where exactly is it that you're going to migrate to?

I'm not "migrationist" in the sense of "pro-migration" but my answer would be a final destination isn't really the crucial question. A space colony with the technology to be self-sufficient could put itself anywhere it wanted, provided you were either a) close enough to some planet where raw materials necessary for maintenance could be obtained or b) close enough to Earth where maintenance ships could reach you. Air, power, food, water, emergency maintenance materials - those can be taken care of onboard, or will be, I should say.

We're not close, but we're a lot closer than "never", that's for sure. And I want to emphasise that I appreciate your priority on this planet, and agree wholeheartedly. I just cannot see, for better or worse, how this progression of events reaches only to a certain point in terms of technology and human nature, and simply stops moving forward.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:50 AM on November 23, 2008


Marisa-- I also appreciate the optimism and vision of those who see the future of technology taking us to places that we cannot yet imagine; I personally just don't see an advance towards a certain end point... if there's any constant in human history, it's outgrowing local resources and moving to find others, leaving degraded environments in our wake. As we all know, there isn't anywhere else to move to now-- we're reaching the limits of the planet's resources.

I suppose that what bothers me is the thought that we (yes, that amorphous "we") are at all in control of what we've created on this earth. As the original subject of this FPP shows, we are likely to deal with all sorts of unexpected problems and environmental blowback and random events that knock the illusion of control all to hell. We're not really moving forward; we're just moving. Grand ideas ("let's terraform Mars!") are fine in science fiction, but nothing is so very simple when dealing with all the unpredictable variables here on earth...
posted by jokeefe at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2008


As we all know, there isn't anywhere else to move to now-- we're reaching the limits of the planet's resources.

Yes, that's also true. I'm guilty of boundless optimism when it comes to humans. Often to my chagrin.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:48 PM on November 23, 2008


Humannaire, that's a poor metaphor. Monkeys didn't move down out of the trees overnight. The solution to the problems confronting space colonization that you're proposing through your metaphor is evolution. That sort of takes a while.

And a while it has been! In fact, depending on one's perspective, migrating to space is why we moved down from the trees in the first place.

Limitations to space migration happening soon not to the contrary, this is happening soon.

Since l like metaphors, here's one.

At the very beginning of the 20th Century, flight had yet to become a reality, cars were unheard of, and electricity was a promising novelties. But by 1915? All were set in stone.

What more: Scientific dialogs either took place in person or else they transpired over distances of months from one response to another. News of great discoveries and breakthroughs took as long to propagate. Yet now? These processes happen in seconds.

Bearing this all in mind, in 1908, scientists and scientific minds were generally in consensus that traveling to the moon had inherent limitations which were "insurmountable." [nod to jokeefe]

And all these same minds said when space travel became a reality was, "Wow. Was I wrong." In other words, people being adamantly wrong about the future may not be essential to the equation of the future being surprising different than commonly expected, but it is normal.

How the limitations are overcome is specifically unimportant to me at this time because others are dedicatedly working on those while I dedicatedly work on what I work on, which it just so happens is preparing young minds for the future where it is happening.

I recycle and promote ecologically forward causes. I'm a vegetarian. Living where I live, I own no car and am famous for always riding a bike here on the island (Key West). My actions encourage others to do so, as well.

But that doesn't change the fact that space migration is only one-or-two important, three seconds to propagate news of world-over, breakthroughs away, and not only will it be more comfortable and accesible than most can presently imagine but it will also honor and successfully overcome any physical limitations than most can presently imagine.

And my guess is that such breakthroughs ie energy sourcing, management of gravity mass and matter, and "laws"[sic] of physics are going to be of use in earth's management, as well. Space migration not withstanding.
posted by humannaire at 1:23 PM on November 23, 2008


Ted Hughes wrote a poem back in 1987--which I cannot find anywhere online, but I have a photocopy of the page in The Times where it was published--called "First Things First." It's too long to transcribe in its entirety, but in part:

If the cost of a mountain of butter is
poisoned water in your tap and
Cot-Death

If the cost of a mountain of grain is
poisoned bread on your plate and for the
farmer's child (and yours)
Leukaemia

If the cost of the Gross National Product is
for trees no leaves
for waters no fish
and for you
cortical plaques, neurofibrillary tangles
Presenile Dementia

etc
etc
etc etc etc

And if the cost of the Expansion of the World Chemical
Industry taken as a whole over the last two decades is
a 40% drop
in the sperm count of all human males

(nor can God alone help the ozone layer
or the ovum)

Then let what can't be sold to your brother and sister be
released on the third world and let it return by air
and sea to drip down the back of your own throat
at night.

Because

Man's brain is such a toxin
(O hear our foetal shout)
Nothing surer than man's brain
Will wipe the menace out.


If you want the rest of it, inquire within.
posted by Restless Day at 1:49 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Radio Lab: Sperm.
posted by Tehanu at 3:25 PM on November 23, 2008


Because having a child, raising a child, is one of the great and profound human experiences which will teach you more humility and more about love and more about what it means to be a mortal being than you can imagine? Also, you get to relive your own childhood in surprising ways, forgive your own parents, and other stuff.

Somehow, I doubt that very many people at all go into parenthood with those aims in mind.

And if people are so keen on learning about humility, love, mortality, forgiveness & other stuff, wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper & less time-consuming just to join any major world religion instead? Or, you know, just generally wander one's way through the rough totality of humanity's cultural output?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:43 PM on November 23, 2008


Somehow, I doubt that very many people at all go into parenthood with those aims in mind.

Well, you see, that's exactly the point. You don't know what it's going to be like or how it will affect you until you do it. But I'm not going to argue; having a child was the most important experience of my life so far and I'm a far better person for it. That's all. I don't think it's selfish to want to have children, not in the least-- it's a foundational human urge, family, however you define it. Children, the community of your friends and peers, whatever. I just think that a society that cares for children is a richer society. YMMV.
posted by jokeefe at 5:32 PM on November 23, 2008


jokeefe - well put. My point was more that the things you mention are a collateral benefit that you find out later, because it's basically thrust upon you, so to speak.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:50 PM on November 23, 2008


Because having a child, raising a child, is one of the great and profound human experiences which will teach you more humility and more about love and more about what it means to be a mortal being than you can imagine?

I seem to recall some studies about how people don't (when asked to rate their happiness at given moments in a happiness journal) derive nearly as much satisfaction from their kids as they claim to otherwise.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:36 PM on November 23, 2008


Well who is going to go on the record saying that they didn't find having kids to be a rewarding experience?
posted by ODiV at 7:22 PM on November 23, 2008


i remember that study: apparently, couples are happiest just before their first kid is born, and they never regain "normal" (pre-childbirth) happiness again until their kids have left home.

unsurprisingly, the kids' teenage years are the lowest point.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:51 PM on November 23, 2008


At the very beginning of the 20th Century, flight had yet to become a reality, cars were unheard of, and electricity was a promising novelties. But by 1915? All were set in stone.

That is sort of stunning to think about, if only because fifteen years before now, I had a very similar conversation on a similar kind of Internet message board. I think it was on Usenet.

I used a keyboard to type it. My monitor was bulkier, and it was probably only 1024x768. The salesmen say my computer today is 1000x faster, but really I notice no difference in reading and typing. Messages still load faster than I can read them. That computer cost about the same as this one. I think this is the same chair I used then.

And... well... the background is blue now. And kibo is called cortex.

The future is now over.
posted by rokusan at 2:57 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just think that a society that cares for children is a richer society.

True. I just wish we could care for the ones we have, as a society, before we make more.
posted by rokusan at 2:59 AM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Space colonization is a fantasy”

So is heavier than air flight. Everything we know about physics tells us we could never achieve the power to weight ratio necessary...oh wait, internal combustion engines...hadn’t thought of that.
But y’know, feel free to quit now if you like.
If we stabilize the human race - get all we need to get done, done. We’ve got at least 5 million years before the sun goes.
5 million years. In that time we’re *never* going to come up with some viable way to leave Earth?
Huh.
So 10,000 years of progress at a faster and faster rate then...what, we just stop? For 5 million years? We stop thinking of goofy new ways to do things?
Yeah, I’ll live in my fantasy world thanks. Seems like it’s only the crazy bastards who don’t consider the word “can’t” part of their vocabulary get anything done.
Oh, they get the crap kicked out of them. But c’mon.
Riding a horse? “You’re never going to get that horse to pull stuff for you”
Uh huh.
5 million years. That’s a lot of time to think.
If we do survive I suspect we’ll be far better suited to space travel. Consider - we’ll have to learn how to recycle everything, derive some more efficient means of caloric sustainance from solar power, etc etc. etc - all the things we’ll have to learn living sustainably on Earth.
So that model can be transplanted just about anywhere. Only problem then is gravity.
Course, maybe that’ll take a million years.
And that’s ‘if’ we survive.
Still - gotta have something to do other than jerk off and contemplate our navels for the next 5 million years.
Especially if we get the science of sustainability down cold.

“They cross oceans to die in small numbers of cold and starvation, but they keep crossing oceans until they have brought that land to its knees. They will do the same to space, provided they don't exterminate each other first.”

Not just people. Life. It might not be humans that eventually spread to other planets. But life doesn’t quit. People forget - yeah humans are a lot of nasty things, but we’re life too.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:24 AM on November 24, 2008


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