Re: Why are we allowed to age?
Sat, 14 Jun 1997 04:05:24 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 6/13/97 11:32:15 PM, (Michael Lorrey)

> How many top notch antibiotics from just a few years ago are now
>considered worthless? There is a new predator in this "human dominated
>ecosystem" and you can't even see it.

Several, but antibiotics aren't necessary for human survival. If they fail
(which is not yet clear) the death rate goes up a bit and we have to be more
careful about public health measures. But, overall, we'll do fine. Epidemic
diseases are anything but new. Also, there are methods for controlling bugs
other than antibiotics which we kind of tossed aside when antibiotics came
along. There's a Russian doctor who is claiming great success with phage
therapy now that we can apply modern genetic knowledge and biotechnology.

>Unless the population pressure is
>released by space colonization, our overburdening of the ecosystem will
>be our own demise.

Lowering population pressure would have nothing to do with averting
antibiotic resistance, but I digress.

>Since the ecosystem is our life support system on
>spaceship earth, claiming that its demise would not endanger us is like
>claiming you can shut off oxygen in the space shuttle and expect to live
>more than a few hours....

Indeed, we do need an ecosystem to survive. But artificial ecosystems, by
which I mean farms and such, do just fine. They can run the carbon cycles
and the nitrogen cycles just as well as natural ones (better, really, from
our point of view). Things like the hydrologic cycles and the geologic ones
are done by the weather and plate techtonics. Most of the real work of the
ecosystems (garbage disposal and cycles for the less common elements) is done
by the germs, and they remain ubiquitous.