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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 9: Biology and the Future of Man- The Nature of Man." National Research Council. 1970. The Life Sciences: Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs The World of Biological Research Requirements for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9575.
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CHAPTER NINE BIOLOGY AND THE FUTURE OF MAN THE NATURE OF MAN The forces shaping the short-term future of man, perhaps to the turn of this century, are apparent, and the events are in train. The shape of the world in the year 2000 and man's place therein will be determined by the manner in which organized humanity confronts several major challenges. If sufficiently successful, and mankind escapes the dark abysses of its own making, then truly will the future belong to man, the only product of biological evolution capable of controlling its own further destiny. Social organizations, through their political leaders, will determine on peace or war, on the use of conventional or nuclear weapons, on the encouragement or discouragement of measures to limit the growth of populations, on the degree of increase in food production, and on the con- servation of a healthy environment or its continuing degradation. These and lesser decisions will affect the composition of the human species. Some major population groups will grow in numbers, others will de- cline, relatively or absolutely, as they have in the past. Thus, in the seven- teenth century, Europeans and their descendants on other continents made up approximately 20 percent of the world's population; in 1940 they repre- sented nearly 40 percent of all people. A relative increase of Asian and African peoples has developed more recently. Each trend was the result of such complex circumstances as the opening of sparsely inhabited con 427

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