The older we get the more likely we are to get sick, and our population as a whole is getting older. That’s why I am one of the many scientists trying to work out why and how we age. Our ultimate goal is to ‘cure’ ageing.
I use the fruit fly, Drosophila, to look at what gene changes cause ageing in the heart. Heart disease is THE major cause of death worldwide. So I get to feel noble and useful each day working to fight this killer. But this brings me to the main topic of this post. What happens if we do cure ageing? Or even slow it down. What if we all start living to be 200 years old?
When the average lifespan was in the 50s, people would be lucky to see grandchildren, let alone great grandchildren. But if people started living to 200, there’s a good chance they could meet their great great great great great grandchildren. Such a big increase in overlapping generations would cause the world’s population to mushroom.
And the earth just couldn’t handle that. Our current population is already at an unsustainable level. At 7 billion people we use 50% more resources annually than the earth can replace. And our population is predicted to increase to 10 billion by 2050. This would probably be ok if we all started using less resources and creating less waste. Some scientists estimate the earth has enough resources to support 10 billion vegetarians but only 2.5 billion omnivores. But since we aren’t all going to become vegetarians, the only other solutions are to have less people or find somewhere else to live.
So, barring interstellar travel, which is not yet possible, to fix this we would also have to significantly delay or stop reproduction. We would all be immortal and infertile. Living in a world where no one has families anymore. If we’re going down this road, a lot of our sexual attraction comes from reproduction hormones. If we don’t have those, would we even be attracted to each other anymore? Would our whole society disintegrate into single people living forever alone? Maybe that is an extreme picture. But a small part of you has to admit that it’s possible, right? This is the whole premise for my work-in-progress novel: Thirty.