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Afterword rat _ _ he biological problems considered in this book have ranged from the molecular to the global, from the very specific to the very broad. Ethical problems can be arrayed on a similar scale. Some ethical issues involve the individual and the family: How should human tissues be used for transplantation? What are a person's obli- gations to family and friends? Other ethical issues involve the entire species: How did ethics evolve in human beings? What are the obli- gations of human beings to the other living things on the earth? On this broadest scale, ethical and biological issues intertwine around a central question: Will the human race be able to survive and prosper in the years ahead? Science and technology have given us the power to greatly reduce our chances of survival, through nuclear war or the degradation of the environment. Science and technology have also given us the capacity to raise standards of living throughout the world, through better sources of food and energy, improved disease prevention and health care, and economic development. Thus the problems and pos- sibilities facing humanity involve both scientific and ethical issues; they relate both to what we can do and to what we need to do. "In an ethical sense, we have no choice other than to secure our own future," says Peter Raven, professor of Botany at Washington University and director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. '`The central obligation that we as human beings have is to preserve the sustainable capacity of the ecosystem into which we have evolved. if we don't do that, think we're clearly carrying out an immoral act." 107

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Population and Wealth The `'major factor" in the pressure being placed on the global eco- system, according to Raven, is the accelerating increase of the human population. In 1930, the global population was about 2 billion people. Today it is more than 5 billion, and by the turn of the century it will be well over 6 billion. Given current trends, demographers ddo not expect population growth to cease until sometime in the middle of the twenty- first century, when it is estimated that the global population will be somewhere between 9 and IT billion people. Even reaching a stable population at those levels will require sustained global and national efforts over the next 50 or 60 years. Population increases have begun to strain many of the biological and geological systems that have long sustained human life. Only a few countries, and none of them in the tropics, are net exporters of food. As a result, about 500 million people receive less than 80 percent of the minimum diet recommended by the United Nations. Population growth also exerts pressure on what may be already limited sources of energy, water, and minerals. In many less Hev~?lon`~H on,~ntrif`~ fair instance, firewood is the fuel most often used to cook food, consuming a large portion of many families' budgets. But the great demand for firewood has caused whole forests to be denuded, and in many parts of the world neon]e have to try for milieu to Omm'1rm Om`T {;~ar~ ^+ all. ~ ~ ~~ ~ r ~He ~ An ~. ~ __ .,~, ~ ~ ~ ~ v ~` ~ ~' 1lillw~ LO O~WU1~ ally lilOWOOU t1L "There's no one who really has a clue as to whether we may not have already exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth," Raven says. vvc 1~; t;~llUU(;LlIl~ a mayor global experiment, without controls, and with the implicit assumption that everything will somehow work out." Population growth is not the only source of stress on the world's social, political, ant] biological systems. Another troubling problem arises from the inequitable distribution of wealth among the peoples of the world. About 25 percent of the worlcI's people live in inclustrializec! countries, which include the United States, Canacia, Europe, the Soviet Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealancl, and a few others. Yet this quarter of the worlcl's population controls 83 percent of the world's economic product. By various measures of consumption, the inclustrial- ized world consumes 80 to 95 percent of the world's material goods. Therefore, three quarters of the world's people survive on less than a fifth of the goods produced in the world. These statistics can be put in more human terms. Of the 2.8 billion people living in less developed countries, excluding China' ~ billion live in conditions that the World Bank refines as absolute poverty' TYL ~ ~ ~ .~ ~ ~1 1 1 . ~ 108 SHAPING THE FUTURE

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meaning that they cannot count on finding adequate food and shelter from one clay to the next. About half of these people are malnourished. Some 14 million children uncler the age of fours almost all of whom live in the developing world, starve to death or die of diseases related to starvation every year. The deaths of these chilciren amount to one out of every three cleaths that occur throughout the florid. The social and economic problems exacerbated by population growth and the unequal distribution of wealth are becoming increasingly fa- miliar, Raven points out: unstable governments, inflation, war, massive international clebts, and large numbers of displaced people and im- migrants moving throughout the world. These problems cannot be con- fined to the countries where they occur. The anguish of less developec] countries will be transferred to the inclustrializec! worIc] through a variety of social and economic links. Thus the people of the industrializec! countries have reasons of self-interest as well as humanitarian reasons for confronting problems of cleclining per capita resources and ineq- uitable living standards. C`As long as we keep the distribution of wealth around the world stretched as taut as it is and fait to recognize our self- interest in joining other people of the world in building their standards of living to an adequate level, we are not taking a responsible attitude toward creating a sustainable ecosystem'" Raven says. Solutions to problems facing the less developed world need to be framed C`in a context of social equality, of justice, of fairness," Raven maintains. We need to look for ways to extend the ethics that govern our relationships with members of our own society to other societies and the world as a whole. Biology and the Future Biological research will be central to the effort to create a productive and sustainable global ecosystem. It can produce better crops ant! domesticated animals through traclitional breeding programs, through the selection of wild crops for cultivation, ant! soon through genetic engineering. It can replace dwindling supplies of energy and minerals with new ant! alternative resources. It can demonstrate the intercon- nections within the global biosphere, providing the knowledge necessary to manage global systems. `'The need to manage the environment collectively to net away from 1 ~. . . ~ , v ~ our locus on the snort term, Is a need whose realization can be very much informer! by biological knowlecige," Raven says. C`We must ded- icate ourselves to the preservation of conditions that will allow people AFTERWORD 1 09

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to exercise their moral judgments, to make their scientific calculations, to live the sorts of life that we live ant] have a reasonable expectation of passing lives of that sort on to our children and grandchilciren." Scientists and engineers in the developed countries have an irre- placeable role to play in using biological knowledge to meet human needs. Only 6 percent of the worIcl's scientists and technologists live in developing countries. International collaboration is therefore critical if developing countries are to generate the expertise to manage their own resources. As befits the wealth of an industrialized nation, the United States is now conclucting more biological research than any nation ever has. This science is not just a `'gimmick," Raven insists, done to satisfy a basic human urge for increased knowledge. C`The science that we're doing, the technology that we're developing, the education that we're under- taking are of key importance for human survival," he says. `'Better scientific un(lerstancling underlies collective human progress.... It is a way of improving the human condition throughout the world." Will biological research provide the knowle(lge needed to build a prosperous and stable future for all human beings? That has to remain an open question. But the potential of biological research to do so is unquestioned. One of biology's many enticements is its open-endedness. It will never be complete, so long as there is life to study and biologists to study it. Biology is not just the science of what we are and of how we came to be-it is also the science of what we can become. 1 10 SHAPING THE FUTURE