‘I’d say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I’d call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so. And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control we have over most infectious diseases today. The idea is to engage in what you might call preventative geriatrics, where you go in periodically to repair that molecular and cellular damage before it gets to the level of abundance that is pathogenic.‘
If we are to believe the above quote from Aubrey De Grey, chief scientific officer for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), within a few decades it will be possible for a person to live to be as old as Methuselah. That is the name of the man in the book of Genesis who died aged 969 years old. In fact, de Grey says that the person who will live to 150 years old has already been born. Far from that being a cause of celebration, it is a cause for concern and reflection.
A dramatic increase in the number of people living longer will put further strain on available, finite resources. World population will hit 7 billion in October, and they will need to be fed, clothed, and have a decent quality of life. Already, a billion people in the world cannot lay claim to decent living, largely because of the excess consumption of a few. Even as it stands, the carrying capacity of the earth has been exceeded at the current rates of consumption in the Western world.
That is the real concern. With more people living longer in the west, they will consume more resources, leaving a lot less for the majority of humanity. If their consumption of energy, food and water doesn’t decrease, serious conflicts will result all over the world.
It may seem premature to discuss something that is still some way off into the future, but the effects of competition for resources are already apparent. Ageing populations come with their own complications. In the US, Medicare and Social Security are in danger of going bust as the baby boomers retire in droves. Japan stagnates economically as birth rates remain low, and its people live longer. This might lead to an increase in the retirement age at some point.
Mankind is getting better at pushing back death, and the full impact of this is not even possible to comprehend, but altering nature’s order always comes with unintended consequences, many of which will be borne by a new generation. The above are just some of the likely issues. Hopefully, we can adapt.
If you had the choice, would take advantage of medical advances to extend your life significantly? Do you think man is trying to play God? Comments are welcome.