It was only a short time ago in human history that making it to the age of 50 was considered a real accomplishment. But with amazing advancements in the fields of science, health care and nutrition, 90 has suddenly become the new 50.
Now, some scientists are claiming they could soon extend the human lifespan up to 150 years. If successful, these advancements would nearly double the current human life expectancy, which is approximately 75-85 years.
While we all want to live a long and full life, the rapidly developing technology that is responsible for increasing life expectancy could have serious and long-term consequences for our little blue planet that is already struggling to keep up with the demands of human beings.
There have been several advancements in science throughout the last several decades that have pushed ethical boundaries to their limits. Controversial developments such as cloning and artificial intelligence for example have raised serious concerns and have left us questioning what it really means to be human. Now, life extension technology has been added to the list of amazing yet concerning scientific advancements.
A Real-life Fountain of Youth?
The elusive fountain of youth has escaped humankind for thousands of years. For countless generations, humans have yearned to live a long life, full of vitality, without having to worry about aging and illness. While immortality will probably elude us until the end of time, we are getting closer to it than ever before.
With a better understanding of the human body and aging process, scientists are now finding ways to stop aging in its tracks. Slowing the aging process to a snail’s pace would mean humans could continue to be vibrant and lively for well over a century. Doubling our lifespans would also extend the time spent with family, working, learning, traveling, and would give us the extra time we need to complete our bucket lists.
Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov is the director of the Bio-gerontology Research Foundation in the UK. He is convinced he is able to extend his lifespan to 150 years. Currently, Zhavoronkov is 37-years-old but he’s planning ahead. His recipe for a 150 year lifespan includes 100 different drugs and supplements, regular and vigorous exercise, frequent and preventative healthcare, along with keeping an eye on his blood-chemistry and cell counts. With this knowledge, Dr. Zhavoronkov claims it will soon be routine for humans to live a quality life that spans nearly two centuries. But are his claims too good to be true?
Although living longer would certainly improve some of our own lives, what would happen to the delicate balancing act that is responsible for maintaining all life on Earth? Just because we can extend our lifespan, does that mean we should?
The Consequences of a Longer Life
It’s no secret that the Earth, and all of humanity, is in serious and immediate trouble. With almost endless threats from global warming, overpopulation, dwindling resources, and weapons of mass destruction, the human race is literally on the brink of destruction. An uncomfortable fact that far too many of us try to avoid at all costs.
An even darker truth is, a longer lifespan for humans will most likely only exacerbate an already dire situation. However, many people argue that extending the human lifespan will actually help to improve our current circumstances because it gives us more time to evolve and learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggest those hopeful predictions are ill-founded.
In theory, doubling our lifespan to 150 years improves our society as a whole. In reality, we are already having serious problems trying to maintain life on Earth. There is a disturbing amount of poverty and suffering in the world. Even Americans who work hard their entire lives are experiencing difficulty maintaining their lifestyle through retirement. There are numerous wars being fought over territory as it is, and we do not have enough resources to meet our demands as a species in the long term.
If we were to suddenly double our lifespan (almost overnight), we must also be prepared to double all of our resources. Furthermore, our lifestyles and the timeline we live by would change almost instantaneously. The family structure would undergo a dramatic makeover if we could suddenly wait until we are 60 or 70 years old to start a family. Childhood would most likely have to be extended because inexperienced youth would be competing with workers who have 100 years experience. And questions concerning how to provide health care to humans who live 150 years is a complete unknown at this point and we wouldn’t have much of a learning curve along the way.
Is it Worth the Risk?
Exploring new territory has always been risky business for humans. But we have continued to boldly seek out the answers to life’s biggest questions and have made incredible progress along the way, particularly in the last 100 years or so. Technology is moving so fast that many people are starting to question if we really have control over it.
One thing is for sure, once we develop and release life extending therapies that are capable of instantly doubling our lifespan, we will have to accept whatever consequences come with that decision. For better or for worse, significant life extension programs would fundamentally change the infrastructure of our world economically, environmentally, and culturally. Whether or not we are ready for such a big change is still in question.
The idea of living 150 years or more is surely tempting to most, and if we could handle the ramifications on an extended lifespan then I doubt anybody would argue against it. However, the notion of doubling our lifespans is still a controversial one since we have yet to answer the ethical questions surrounding this issue.
Through millions of years of evolution, humans have learned how to live relatively long and healthy lives. Scientists now want to double that hard-earned timeline with a couple of decades worth of research. Surely, the Earth will continue to spin around the sun for millions of years, but whether or not humans will be on it to enjoy the ride is questionable, especially with technology that is quickly starting to outpace our wisdom.