On 23 September 2011, the Science Fight Club debates will pit scientist against scientist and we're asking you for potential topics of debate in our other thread... But what do you think are the answers to the questions we and others have posed already?
Should we ever wipe out a particular species? If we had to make the choice, should we conserve mammals over insects or vice versa?
Take a look at the other thread, place your vote, and then let us know your thoughts below.
My vote was for 'Should we be trying to live longer' - I suspect many people's answer to that could depend on which end of the telescope you are looking down, but if we look at it from a ecological point of view though, the world's human population is currently growing exponentially and, in the long term, it is growth that will become (or already is) unsustainable. And by that I am thinking of the typical growth curve you would see for a bacterial culture: it starts with a prolonged period of slow growth (us up until the 19th Century), followed by exponential growth, then tapering off before the inevitable collapse once resources have run out.
Also, by 'we' who is it that is meant? In the current world, it would mean rich westerners (and rich asians or orientals). The poor wouldn't fit in with the whole living longer ethos, I suspect, so there is also a political and moral aspect to the question.
Personally, I hope to keep going for as long as my body will manage, but I don't expect to be taking 'magic' medicine that currently doesn't exist to make that period last for much more than a few years than it ordinarily would be. Contra to that though, we already are living longer than humans historically have done in the past... probably one of the reasons behind our population explosion since the 1800s, so the pro-living-longer argument would probably say what is the difference between now where we prolong our lives through pills to lower blood pressure, surgery to remove cancers, and so on, and a future where we have the technology and medicine to push our limits even further so that we have people living until they are 200?
Ultimately though, it'll depend on more than just medicine and technology, as other factors such as a changing climate, collapsing food stocks etc will have far more of a say on this than any scientific revolution.