11 July 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Fragility of Life + News

Two essays Miguel + Lawrence, Exhibition by Alfonso, Laura visit to free

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing the Fragility of Life. Miguel has written
a short essay for us. One of the themes he raises are the risks in our
life. Something we are all too aware.

In my essay I look at life in its more basic and simpler contexts. The
subject of the fragility of life is quite complex, but even still, as
Miguel shows us in his essay, fragility can be very simple.

Alfonso has an painting exhibition in Cuenca until the 13 August, at the
Centro Cultural Aguirre. I have included a scan of the leaflet Alfonso
gave me on the Picasa photo website. The address is:


Lawrence, I would like to invite the group to see European cinema...
Friday night, for free. I am going there Friday the 18 July, 2230, to
see "Grvabica" . The web says "Ciclo de CINE EUROPEO DE VERANO al aire
libre. Todos los viernes, entre el 11 de Julio y el 29 de Agosto, ambos
inclusive, a las 22:30 h.en la Sede de las Instituciones Europeas en
España, Paseo de la Castellana, 46 - Madrid. La Oficina del Parlamento
Europeo y la Representación de la Comisión Europea en España, se
complacen en invitarles al Ciclo de Cine Europeo de Verano, donde podrán
disfrutar de ocho películas europeas en versión original subtitulada,
bajo el cielo de la noche madrileña.

The whole programme can be found in


See you there , I hope :-)


Take care and see you Sunday



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-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147


The fragility of life

The title of this coming Sunday's discussion is an invitation to reflect
upon those events that harm life in any way. This has prompted the usage
of the word "fragility": life is fragile because it can be damaged by
events, both expected and unexpected. Maybe a more apt title would have
been "Life and its risks", even if it sounds like the beginning of a
sales pitch from an insurance company.

One can see that a non-negligible part of all human endeavours is
directed to reduce the risks associated to harmful events. Let's think
for example of all technological advances carried out in health care.
But then, other aspect of these activities is that they produce new
risks of their own as collateral effects. Many of us will remember the
case of the defective cobalt gun in the Zaragoza Hospital that caused
the death a few years ago of many patients that were being treated for

It is very likely that we agree on the need to reduce risks with
reasonable resources, without creating new ones, but this topic is not
the main aim of the subject proposed. Our efforts should be directed
instead to explore the implications of the very existence of those
risks, big and small, expected and unexpected, i.e. to wonder: what is
nature telling us by making great efforts to preserve life, and at the
same time creating situations that can harm it? What is the meaning of a
great natural disaster, like the tsunami that devastated the Indonesian
west coastland in 2004? And that of a traffic accident in which the
victim was not to blame? Is there something useful to draw from those
fateful events and others similar to them?

A starting point for the exploration is the idea that life and risk
could well not be independent, moreover: that risk is inherent to life,
in the sense that you cannot have the latter without the former.

An argument in this sense comes from the hypothesis that life is the
result of random, unexpected processes that, by changing things so many
times, eventually it gets the building blocks of life right: the
macromolecules able to self-replicate. We find here that events leading
to life on one side, and unexpected and harmful events to life on the
other, would basically have the same nature: an intrinsic randomness in
their manifestations, something that would explain their inseparability.

On the other hand, we'd have those who think that life is a directed
process, in which randomness plays a small role –if at all. Then, for
the sake of simplicity, one could assume that the same forces
responsible for the appearance of life are behind the apparition of
those events that can harm it. We find again then an explanation of
sorts about the inevitability of the presence of both elements in many

A third way to look at the subject is to consider that risk is not only
inseparable for life, but absolutely necessary for it to evolve and be
preserved. Think about the oxygen we breathe. Were it not for it, the
main form of life on earth –to which we belong- could not have existed.
But according to the Free Radicals theory of ageing, oxygen is also a
very toxic gas, in the sense that the cellular processes that get energy
from it generate also very active oxidants (the so called free radicals)
as by products. These oxidants are so reactive that they can damage
delicate molecules such as DNA, and interfere in many other processes at
a molecular level. Their visible results would be ageing and death.

Think also about all the risks taken by all persons that push things to
the limit: explorers of uncharted territories and seas -on Earth and
other planets-, lovers of extreme sports, record seekers, etc. By
assuming and accepting the risks involved, those persons are also
opening new possibilities for life and technology.

This third view is reinforced if we look at what happens when risks are
systematically reduced beyond a certain threshold. To illustrate it,
let's consider our immune system. As we know, it is meant to protect our
bodies from disease and infection. Nevertheless, there are instances in
which the immune system goes berserk and attacks the very body that it
is meant to protect. These ailments are called autoimmune diseases, a
group in which we find ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and asthma, among
others. The important fact for our research is an idea on the origin of
these diseases that is steadily gaining ground, the so-called hygiene
hypothesis. It says that lack of exposure to germs due to excessive
cleanliness in modern societies (think about all chemicals used at home
to clean both the house and the body) lets our immune systems without
the traditional opponents it engages -certain species of germs and
bacteria-, to the point that it attacks the body out of idleness. The
question arises then: is there a big risk in reducing risks too much?

It looks as if risks were deeply interwoven in the very fabric of life,
as a necessary element but with a very specific proportion: lack of risk
or too much of it harm life likewise. A similitude with a guitar string
seems appropriate: tensions (risks) above or below the right one will
produce a note that is out of tune.

Every time we see the confluence of a pair of opposites, Heraclitus of
Ephesus (-535 to -475) comes to mind. His theory about the origin of
forms (life being an attribute of certain forms) as the result of the
workings of opposite forces seems to be enduring the test of time.

Life would thus be a flow (another of Heraclitus' deep insights), a
manifestation of the convergence of opposite forces: those that strive
to perpetuate it on one side, and those that render it fragile on the other.


--------essay Lawrence-----------------------

The fragility of life

There is a graphic image in Wikipedia that illustrates the hypothetical
distance a planet has to be from a sun to harbour life. The calculations
are based on the conditions found on Earth and the relevant distance the
planet is from the sun. Thus, if the Sun was twice the mass it is, the
Habitable Zone <1 would be more or less somewhere between Mars and
Jupiter. Of course, this is all hypothetical.

The habitable zone for life theory assumes that a planet has to be at a
distance from a sun that is favourable for life. And that the sun itself
must be at an equally safe distance from the centre of the galaxy to
make it safe for a planet in a solar system to develop life. The Earth
is roughly 149,598,000 km away from the Sun and, "The Sun lies between
25,000 and 28,000 light years from the Galactic Centre,..." <2 This is
sometimes called the Goldilocks effect because it is neither too cold
nor too hot, just right. In fact, this goldilocks effect is an idea that
keeps recurring in many discussions about life.

We even find Dawkins proposing the idea of the Middle World which
explains why the world around us looks and feels the way it does. "Our
brains have evolved to help us survive within the orders of magnitude of
size and shape which our brains operate at" Richard Dawkins at the 2005
TED conference <3. The context of this observation is that we know that
there are spaces between atoms, but to be able to "see" those spaces we
have to "see" things at that level. Maybe a Neutrino might see the
spaces; or a virus might "see" the boundaries of the cell. But we live
in a world where we do not see those spaces. However, I interpret
Dawkins to mean that from our evolutionary context our world is neither
too small nor too big.

The problem with the Goldilocks effect is that this middle ground can be
quite large and the criteria of using conditions on Earth as the
benchmark for life elsewhere in the universe is very parochial and
subjective. There is no reason why life should not develop under
different conditions. In fact, even on Earth life occupies practically
all physical conditions we can come across, at least on the outer mantel
of the planet.

Exobiology is part of Astrobiology, which, according to NASA is,
"Research into the evolution of advanced life seeks to determine the
biological and environmental factors leading to the development of
multicellular life on Earth and the potential distribution of complex
life in the Universe......" <4 We are concerned about the development of
life on Earth. But in the context of the Goldilocks effect, exobiology
also studies the various life forms found on Earth that survive under
extreme conditions.

The website, Biology Cabinet, has a whole chapter on Exobiology <5 that
also has examples of, "Extremophiles" which, "are organisms that live in
extreme environments that would be deadly for the greater part of the
terrestrial living beings." For example, Nasif Nahle, the author of the
chapter, also includes the following organisms: Thermophiles: Resistant
to high temperatures (Pyrococcus lives in water at 113° C).
Psychrophiles: Resistant to very low temperatures (Cryotendolithotrophus
lives in water at -15° C). There is a more comprehensive list of these
Extremophiles in the article on the same topic in Wikipedia. <6

The reason why astrobiology and extremophiles are important for us, is
not because of the promise of finding life forms on other planets or
galaxies, but because they give us a scientific background to the
question, What is life? Having said that, this is not an easy question
and as Bruce Weber says in his article on Life, "Some biologists and
philosophers even reject the whole idea of there being a need for a
definition, since life for them is an irreducible fact about the natural
world." <7

Let us, for our purposes, accept that the life we are interested in is
biological life. This will help us because our task would be easier by
excluding such entities, which some claim to have life, as: planets,
rocks, robots, computers, souls and maybe the occasional ghost.

However, the central theme of the fragility of life ought to be the
distinction between life, meaning biological forms and individuals
within the various life forms. Thus humans are a form of biological
life, but you and me are individuals within that group. To put this in
context we can safely conclude that human life is quite resilient and
strong. It is estimated that the world population in 10,000BCE (Before
Common Era or BC) was about a million people. Today's population is
about 6.5 billion people. <8 That is a huge expansion for a life form,
especially one that has developed and evolved to a magnitude that is not
found in other creatures.

The success or resilience of human beings suggests a number of facts.
The first of which is that we humans as a group have successfully
managed to exploit, in a Darwinian meaning, our environment to meet our
survival needs. As an open system we need to replenish our internal
resources (i.e. food for energy and other minerals etc) and our survival
resources (housing, cloths, means of transport, protection).

Some scientists have described life as a phenomena, "which are open or
continuous systems able to decrease their internal entropy at the
expense of substances or free energy taken in from the environment and
subsequently rejected in a degraded form. ..." <9 This takes us back to
the habitable zone. Life form must have an environment that can sustain
life's existence. Maybe the Goldilocks effect, not too much nor too
little, is not as vital as conditions being stable. Maybe, given a set
of stable conditions in a goldilocks environment some life form can
exist in a state of equilibrium within that environment. But the
goldilocks effect must surely be relative to the stability and not
absolute to some distance and mass.

If we look at a map of human population distribution by density <10 we
can see at a glance that human life is distributed in clusters in Asia,
India, Northern and Eastern Europe, West coast of Africa and Northern
East coast and some areas of the West coast of the US. Of course, there
are many areas where people live but not in a high density to make a
mark on the map. The interesting thing for us is not that most of the
population of the world is distributed around a certain latitude, but
that there are people living in extreme conditions. The cold environment
of Alaska and Siberia, the heat of the Sahara desert, the heights of the
Himalayas and Peru.

This tells us that although we can generalise about human beings we
cannot really deduce much from these generalisations about individuals.
The thinking also applies the other way, an individual does not
necessarily represent the whole population of the world. Just because a
group of people of around 2million live in the extreme cold of the Sápmi
area (North Europe between Norway and Russia: see Wikipedia) it does not
follow that we can all live there under such harsh conditions.

However, our ability to manipulate our environment means that we can
survive in these hostile environments. Thus the fragility of life can be
mitigated in two ways. Life can change its environment or it can change
itself by natural selection. We seem to be more successful at changing
our environment in the short term than ourselves.

We would expect that geographical location also plays a role in changing
our physical make up. Although there are variations between human beings
in different geographical locations the paradox is that: "compared with
many other mammalian species, humans are genetically less diverse—a
counterintuitive finding, given our large population and worldwide
distribution (Li and Sadler 1991; Kaessmann et al. 2001)." <11

Despite the seemingly homogeneity of the human population, there are
still enough variations to make a difference. For example, some have
adapted their skin colour to survive in environments high in ultraviolet
radiation. Knowing about these variations can also have positive
implications: "From a medical perspective the study of human genetic
variation may be important because some disease causing alleles occur at
a greater frequency in people from specific geographic regions." <11

Although the individual is a very fragile system, adaptations and
selectivity make the group to which that individual belongs more
resilient. For example, if a group is immunised against an infectious
disease the whole group benefits from the protection, but if enough
individuals do not take the necessary precautions then the whole group
might not be immune against the disease. Which brings me to the next
important aspect of the fragility of life and how to mitigate it.

Cooperation is one way we can mitigate the fragility of life.
Cooperation is a survival strategy that satisfies our own personal needs
to survive and at the same time help others meet their needs to survive.
For example, division of labour is a form of cooperation whether it is
painting our front porch or building power stations to supply the energy
to factories that make the clothes we wear in winter.

I would say that the most effective way of cooperation is to share our
knowledge and information about the environment we live in. Thus knowing
about the genetic variations of individual groups can not only help find
medications to help those groups over come specific diseases they suffer
from, but also teach people to learn how to solve their specific needs.

Sharing knowledge, information and resources can help us mitigate the
fragilities of life, but there is a catch is this strategy. In the same
way that those who do not protect themselves against an infectious
disease, are putting the others in the group at risk, those who do not
cooperate with us are putting us in danger. Thus whilst we accept a
certain degree of cheating, if enough people cheat the advantages of
cooperation will come to nothing.

Let us take a practical example which affects all us now. Global warming
is now accepted to be partly the result of pollution created by human
beings. Personally I do not accept the inevitable doom and gloom
associated with the topic, but rather take a more practical approach.
Simply put, I do not like a polluted countryside, nor the hot weather or
floods that are sometimes associated with global warming.

I would say that part of the global warming problem is indeed the result
of a partial collapse of this cooperation strategy. You will recall that
one of the definitions of life is an open system that exploits the
environment in order to reduce its internal entropy. By definition we
can exploit an environment if there are resources suitable for us to
exploit. The problem of course is that 6.5 billion people require a lot
of resources. But there is also another problem that is not always made
obvious, although some pressure groups against globalisation do hint at
it, this is that for so many people to cooperate they also need to
overcome the obstacles of distance.

If a resource is extracted in one location and used in the same location
the internal entropy, so to speak, is channelled back into the
environment and affects the same people who used those resources. Thus
if a village have a herd of cows which are used for their milk, meat and
leather, the waste and other externalities of this herd of cows are
experienced by the same village. There must therefore be a reasonable
effort of cooperation if the streets of the village are not to be full
of cow dung, or the meadows denuded of grass or the wastes from the
tanners won't pollute the local stream or river. However, I contend that
the further away we are from the exploitation of resources the less we
become interested in adopting reasonable measures of cooperation.
If we buy a television set in Madrid that is made in a factory in China
that uses polluting power stations or inefficient manufacturing
processes, we feel less inclined to care about that pollution than if
the TV set was made in Toledo using the same polluting technology used
in China. Thus if the Chinese can offer me a hi tech TV set for 300
Euros why should I care about the pollution that goes into generating
this product. Most probably I cannot even find out how much pollution
was created or how people were exploited in making that TV set because
those who stand to benefit from my 300 Euros might themselves not be
affected that much by the pollution because they can live in a city with
clean air etc. etc. Thus, the collapse of cooperation (the manufacturer
pollutes the environment, and us not conscious about the pollution as
long as we buy cheaper products) can make life really fragile. We can
understand fragile here as the effects on health due to pollution, the
indignity, if not harm, of exploitation and so on.

We can now go a step further and ask ourselves: does distance or absence
of negative externalities in our environment, give rise to exploiting
the fragility of a life form? Because fish don't fight back and are
relatively easy to catch, we can feel no qualms in exploiting them
because of there fragility.

Thus although fragility can lead to cooperation, which can collapse for
many reasons, fragility can also give rise to wilfully exploitation life

We can now turn the argument on its head and ask ourselves: are we duty
bound to mitigate our fragility in order not to make it easy for others
to exploit us? Or is fragility a survival strategy? For example, should
fighting bulls try to kill the matador in the bull ring and thus end
bull fighting? Or is the bull's fragility in the bull ring its strength
that makes it a very successful bovine breed? And to finish the
argument, why is it somehow acceptable for bulls to exploit their
fragility to survive as a breed, but not children to work in sweatshops
or peasants to work in slave like conditions in factories?

I might have given the impression that this collapse of cooperation
might lead to ultimate disaster. Some people would want to give that
impression. But you will remember that life, in our case human beings,
receive information from the environment and we react accordingly. You
will also recall that the key factor when considering the goldilocks
effect is not necessarily the extremes or the middle ground, but rather
the stability of the system. Catastrophic events can bring an end to
life either on a grand scale or localised. The ancient object that
impacted in Yucatán in Mexico, some 65 million years ago, destroyed the
dinosaurs that roamed the Earth for even more millions of years.
Earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, floods and so on also show us how fragile
life is.

But catastrophic events can also be due to the strategies we employ
against each other to survive. If commercial and economic relationships
were conducted on the basis of cooperation (some are carried out on this
basis) we would not expect to see child labour or rampant pollution. But
when markets are too incompatible with cooperation we expect consumers
and workers to take the necessary action to mitigate their fragility.
Consumers stop buying goods and services, employees to change jobs or go
on strike and so on. Of course, each of these actions have a consequence
until a new balance is reached. But the point is that life might be
fragile but we can sometimes mitigate against this fragility.

How fragile we are as individuals can best be illustrated by looking at
our state of health and subsequent demise. In an entry in Wikipedia
under the heading, "List of causes of death by rate" there is a table
with the many causes of death world wide for 2002 and the number of
deaths that were tabulated was just over 57 million. The top three
causes of death in 2002 were: Cardiovascular diseases 29.34% of deaths
recorded, Infectious and parasitic diseases 19.12%, and Ischemic heart
disease 12.64%. You will remember that the population of the world is
about 6.5 billion people. Putting this fragility into even more
perspective I found the following statistics for 2006-2007 on hospital
admissions in England (not the UK): Admission Episodes Total 12,976,273
and Emergency 4,700,017 which works out at 36.2% of admissions. The
estimated population of England in 2001 was about 50 million. <13

Although I give these figures as an idea of what I am referring to and
that the figures themselves might not be that accurate, we can still see
that individual life might be fragile but cooperation still mitigates
for some of this fragility for example by providing health care. Once
again we might have to deal with the question why is it that so many
people in the world do not have access to medical health? And as we know
this does not only apply to developing countries but also to some of the
most advanced countries.

And again I do not want to give the impression that by cooperation we
might or can neutralise the fragility of life. If you look at the
original documents of these figures you will see that this fragility is
quite serious. And any examples of cooperation do not necessarily solve
all problems or can solve all problems.

If cooperation which is so powerful has its limitations what else can
affect the fragility of life? I would say that the next most influential
cause is our beliefs. I have already shown how information and knowledge
can be used to mitigate the fragility of our life. So how can our
beliefs play a role in our fragility?

Even beliefs have positive and negative effects on our fragility. For
example, our belief that we would all be better off in our relationships
if we cooperated then surely this would have a positive effect on our
fragility, as I have tried to show. Assuming of course beliefs are
turned into actions. However, if we believe that we are better off
cheating and not cooperating, than this would surely mean a negative
effect on our fragility.

But there are other roles beliefs play in our life and in our fragility.
Beliefs based on emotions can lead us to do good things but also some
serious evil things. Love can lead to helping others and most of all can
also lead to procreation. Although love, of course, is neither a
necessary nor sufficient condition for procreation. However, procreation
is the main objective of life. For there to be life there must be living
entities. But emotions and beliefs can also lead us to hatred and
jealousy. And some of these beliefs can lead to war and discrimination
which surely reflect the fragility of human life. Especially of the
victims of wars or discrimination.

Beliefs not only manifest themselves as a phenomenon in individuals but
we can say, at least for the sake of argument, in collective movements.
Political doctrines, religions, commercial practices, group identity,
culture and so on.

At least we can say so much about ourselves as a group of life form and
as individuals within that human race. Furthermore, the concept of life
being an open system interacting within its environment is also a very
attractive one. This might even lead us to believe that all life systems
function in the same entropy decreasing manner of exploiting the
environment. Of course, the devil is in the detail, but the open system
principle means that life of bacteria is sustained in the same manner as
a human being, an ant or an elephant.

Earlier I said that one of the objectives of life is procreation. And
although by this I do not mean that each individual must reproduce, it
does mean that enough must reproduce to create a critical mass to main
the species. However, population growth has to deal with the Malthusian
Catastrophe <14 which Thomas Malthus identified in his publication in
1798 :An Essay on the Principle of Population. <15 Basically this
catastrophe is: a return to subsistence-level conditions as a result of
population growth outpacing agricultural production. <14

So far this fragility has been averted by technological development, for
example some claim that the industrial revolution might have mitigated
this catastrophe in the past. <14 Today, as I write this essay we are
facing the prospects of a serious recession with food and fuel reaching
unprecedented prices. Some might say that fuel prices were already too
cheap in some countries. So charging more for this commodity is
redressing some imbalances in the system plus the added bonus of
creating jobs in extracting oil from places that would have otherwise
been uneconomical or the real reduction in carbon emissions.

But maintaining a population alive is certainly a challenge for life in
general and the different groups of life forms. This brings me to a
curious paradox of life: are viruses alive? I do not intend to go into
biological details here, but the problem is that although viruses do
have genes they do not have cell structures. And, "although they
reproduce, they do not self-metabolize and require a host cell to
replicate and synthesize new products." <16

The Wikipedia article on viruses outlines the problem as follows: "If
viruses are considered alive, then the criteria specifying life will
have to exclude the cell. If viruses are said to be alive, the question
could follow of whether even smaller infectious particles, such as
viroids and prions, are alive." <16

The virus paradox has implications for the various branches of science
and the philosophy of science that study biological entities. In the
context of exobiology this means that life in other parts of the
universe might not be the same as we know life. Of course, this point is
not lost amongst those who do look for life elsewhere. And although the
debate is technical and highly specialised, from our point of view it
means that if we accept viruses as life form what else should we be
prepared to accept as life form? For example, was I justified in
excluding ghosts and rocks as life forms?

But within the context of our debate the virus paradox is relevant in
the following way. I have already tried to show that sustaining life is
very difficult and fraught with dangers. And although our fragility can
sometimes be mitigated, we have not won the battle nor the war against
this fragility. The accident and emergency services in a hospital should
leave us in doubt on how fragile we are. And the catastrophe that wiped
out the dinosaurs confirms our beliefs that all forms of life are
fragile. The question then is whether viruses are a clever evolution of
a certain life form or whether viruses are an intermediate form of life
between life as we know it and non-living things?

In other words, are viruses a life form with a huge evolutionary
attitude or the twilight zone between the living and the non living? If
viruses are a life form then surely it follows that this is one life
form that has evolved not to cooperate amongst itself since reproduction
is done through other hosts. And in many cases it kills the host it
invades. Not to mention that they exploit other stable systems and
usually increase the entropy in these systems. In other words, viruses
exploit the fragility of other systems.

But if viruses are not life forms then surely genes cannot be the source
of life. However, what should concern us is not what is the source of
life, if not genes, but rather, as the article on viruses points out,
"Virus self-assembly within host cells has implications for the study of
the origin of life, as it lends credence to the hypothesis that life
could have started as self-assembling organic molecules."

The ethical questions we can conclude with are: if some virus like form
of life is the origin of life as we know it, should we be surprised that
cooperation and ethical behaviour do not come easy to human beings? And
should we also be surprised that we find it so easy to exploit other
forms of life or biological systems?

Take care


<1 Wikipedia Habitable Zone (accessed 8-07-2008)

<2 Wikipedia Solar System (accessed 8-07-2008)

<3 Talks Richard Dawkins: The universe is queerer than we can suppose,
TED Conferences, LLC,

<4 NASA: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology.

<5 Nahle, Nasif S. Exobiology. Article obtained on July8,2008; from

<6 Wikipedia Extremophile Extremophile. (2008, June 13). In Wikipedia,
The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:59, July 8, 2008, from

<7 Weber, Bruce, "Life", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring
2006 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
<8 World population. (2008, July 7). In Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:00, July 8, 2008, from

<9 Life. (2008, July 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
14:38, July 8, 2008, from

<10 National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA)

<11 Human genetic variation. (2008, July 4). In Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:12, July 8, 2008, from

<12 List of causes of death by rate. (2008, July 4). In Wikipedia, The
Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:44, July 8, 2008, from
<13 The NHS Information Centre, Headline figures, site:

http://www.hesonline.nhs.uk and pdf file:

<14 Malthusian catastrophe. (2008, June 28). In Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:56, July 8, 2008, from

<15 Thomas Malthus An Essay on the Principle of Population:

<16 Virus. (2008, July 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Retrieved 22:07, July 8, 2008, from



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from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The Fragility of
Life + News

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