Re: A good short honest FAQ but very bad PR

Dan Clemmensen (
Mon, 06 Jul 1998 18:46:07 -0400

Dwayne wrote:
> Scott Badger wrote:
> > How
> > much compassion does the average human currently display for apes? Yes, we
> > protect them and study them and are even occassionally entertained by them,
> > but by in large we're just too engaged in human activities to be very
> > interested in what they're doing.
> Except for when we use them for medical research or destroy their
> habitat.
I don't think this is true in general. It appears to me that more people become upset about Rwanda's apes and danger to them than about the human lives lost to intertribal warfare. I suspect that most non-black americans would be more upset about a fifty percent decrease in the African ape population than a fifty percent decrease in the african human population. Please note that I am not advocating this view, I'm just reporting on my intuition about most americans. Black americans are not less sensitive to the ape's problems, but are likely more sympathetic to the problems
of african humans. If I pick a different continent and a different species with good PR, (asia, pandas) I'll get the same general result with a different set of americans.

Before you disagree, ask yourself how you feel. I'm not picking on Scott or Dwayne: everyone can play. To the extent that you worry about loss of habitat for apes, you are severely restricting the options for some fairly poor and desperate african tribespeople, some of whom could sell ape's feet, rhino horns, or elephant tusks to buy food and medicine to keep their kids alive.

I personally take a view that is fairly callous and cruel: human overpopulation will inevitably destroy all ecosystems if allowed to do so. Therefore, restricting human over-exploitation of ecosystems at worst merely slightly advances a restriction that would eventually occur anyway. To the extent that this generates economic hardship that results in excess human death, I'm an evil person.

I think the way out of this mess is through technology. Transhuman-level technology is allows a very large human population to live a luxurious lifestyle with a relatively minor and controllable environmental impact. (i.e., hundreds of times more people with less than the current impact.)

This is very important for the transhuman argument. The status quo is not the alternative to transhumanism, since the status quo is unstable. If we let the opposition assume a stable status quo, we lose one of our strongest arguments.