Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Extending Lifespans - Enough Already!

It's not that we can't significantly extend man's longevity, the question is should we?

In a world running headlong into the wall of finite, dwindling and even exhausted resources, what are the costs associated with engineering man to live 100 rather than merely 75-years?

BBC News reports that fully half of the babies now born in the UK will live to 100 years of age:

To achieve "50 active years after 50", experts at Leeds University are spending £50m over five years looking at innovative solutions.

They plan to provide pensioners with own-grown tissues and durable implants.
New hips, knees and heart valves are the starting points, but eventually they envisage most of the body parts that flounder with age could be upgraded.

...Professor Eileen Ingham and her team have developed a unique way to allow the body to enhance itself.

The concept is to make transplantable tissues, and eventually organs, that the body can make its own, getting round the problem of rejection.

What these scientists (and the BBC) ignore is the effect that extended longevity will have on a world with finite resources. Who is going to pay for all the drugs and laboratory and surgical procedures needed to keep Old Wobbly going that extra 20-30 years? We're already reeling under the healthcare cost impacts of longevity increases obtained since the 50's. Surely extended longevity will become the exclusive preserve of the wealthy subsidized by others.

Then there's the question of how you feed and maintain that person, how you deal with the extension of their carbon emissions and associated problems. Britain feeds itself with other nations' foodstuffs. Last year Britons consumed their entire nation's annual stocks of renewables by Easter. After that, they were relying on imports. A lot of those imports are coming from countries that are already hard-pressed to meet the subsistence needs of their own people. Their people can't economically compete with Westerners for the food they grow. And we're going to add a longevity layer to that burden?

The world is already overpopulated. We don't need greater longevity but smaller numbers, fewer mouths to feed. The resources that would have to be poured into keeping grandpa going those extra decades are already badly needed elsewhere.

This is madness.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I agree.Penny

Anonymous said...

Yes...and they don't mention how they will control sexual desires in men....men because it is important since they are the ones who provide the wiggly that makes babies. It is good to note that most men in their late fifties and sixties want a woman who is 35 hence the chance for pregnancy.....personal sites are a good example for that observation..... more population, more damage to the environment as you say. A. Morris

The Mound of Sound said...

I suppose there would be no end of unforseen consequences and complications to bio-engineered longevity advances. The obvious problems are bad enough. Imagine a sprightly 100-year old bin Laden. I'll bet that any really sinister type wouldn't hesitate to do whatever was necessary to gain priority access to this sort of biotechnology.