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The value in living longer

In general death is undesirable. When it comes, it’s a biological struggle. The knock of death on someone’s door is not answered politely. And from that perspective, putting off death seems reasonable.

New research into a diabetes drug Metformin shows promising signs that it may increase lifespan and is now entering human trial. Would you sign up?

Living longer must have caveats though. Living longer is only desirable if your physical and mental health is good. That seems to be a common response.

But what is the value in living longer? Is there one? Or is it our egos that makes us think that living longer is something we should aspire to?

One might argue, that living longer is a good thing because we can contribute more to the world, society, our community. But isn’t that an inflated view of our own value? While I love the people in my life and believe I have a circle of friends and family who are all good people, I do not believe any of them is going to change the world in such a profound way that it would shape the planet for the better by living longer. (sorry friends)

If we were to live significantly longer, what would need to change?

  1. Consumption: We consume. Humans are great at it. Living longer en masse, would increase that consumption and the pressure already being put on our environment. From mass-farming practices, strip mining, deforestation… Studies have already shown that as humans live longer and consume more, biodiversity declines. If we were to double our lifespan, we’d need radically different practices to sustain our natural resources.
  2. Conservation: As much as we consume, we are perhaps even worse at conservation. Developed nations are gluttonous and have lost touch with any sense of being without. It makes us careless with our waste — of water, recyclables, etc. We need better practices to reduce, reuse and recycle.
  3. Population Studies: While the rate population growth is declining, the bottom line is that the global population is growing. There are currently 7.4-billion people, and by the year 2100 it’s estimated that there will be 10.9-billion people on the planet. Living longer would — at least in the short-term until a new mortality stabilization was reached — increase population growth significantly. Would regulations on procreation need to be implemented, or would the population naturally sort itself out?
  4. Disease Control & Research: More people = more communicable diseases. People living longer = more opportunities for diseases, communicable and otherwise to rear their ugly heads. We already know that developed nations face exuberant rates for chronic diseases — largely preventable and the result of living “the good life.” What would the next stage be if we were to all live longer?
  5. Economic Support: If 40 is already the new 30, at what stage would 80 become the new 50? Would retirement be pushed back? What if you lived longer, but only your non-working years increased? How would the burden to you financially be prepared for, both personally and by the government?

Living longer, even in good health and good spirits, and being productive members of our community, would really only mean doing more of the same. Going to work, eating/drinking/sleeping, creating and consuming on a microscopic scale. To do it longer might be enjoyable, but would it benefit anyone?

The very idea that to live longer might mean we could make amends, to create something that would “save the world” or be so significant in contribution that its outcome would outweigh any negatives by having everyone live longer, seems totally based on inflated human ego.

We already have war. Consume too much. Destroy our planet. Nothing indicates that we would change our behavior simply by living longer.

Unless we let go of our egos.