Thursday, 9 March 2017

Is Longevity Worth It?

If you've taken an interest in longevity and antiaging as I have, eventually you will have someone say to you that they don't want to live longer as they believe that the world is only getting worse, if you haven't already. One or more of the following will be mentioned: war, the economy, climate change, freedom, or something else. But is this really true? Do we really have to pity the younger generations and wait to die?

It's not that bad.
Actually, no we don't, but that doesn't mean that sources like Our World in Data and Human Progress don't have to fight to prove that optimism is in fact the evidence-based worldview. The mainstream media throws tragedy after disaster after more death at us, without a balanced perspective. But this is some of what you don't see: global extreme poverty has fallen from about 95% in 1820 to just under 10% today; largely because of this, the under-5 mortality rate fell from 43% in 1820 to 4% today; and although almost nobody lived in a democracy in 1820, 56% do today. Partly driving these is the increase in literacy and basic education, which rose from 12% and 17% in 1820 to 85% and 86% today. On average, around 130,000 people escape from extreme poverty every day, and the number of children under 5 dying worldwide falls by 455. But this is too normal and too nice for the mainstream media, who seem to prefer showing dead children than children who are healthy because their family just gained access to sanitation. And longer lives don't mean overpopulation: global fertility has more than halved since 1960, a far cry from the situation that inspired Soylent Green and Logan's Run among others. Human Progress also shows other improvements in gender equality, such as a shrinking wage gap, less violence against women (and its acceptance) and more women in leadership roles. However, a major reason why we don't see these improvements is because more recently, so much of it has been outside the West. Extreme poverty is no longer the norm in East Asia, South Asia and even Africa, while it was as late as the 1980s (its no surprise then, that everyone wanted to become culturally Western).

Yes, long-term statistics show improvement, but what about during the last few years? The world has continued to improve overall, including in the case of the environment. Many species of animals, such as the humpback whale, had been taken off the endangered species list last year. Over three million square kilometres of ocean had been declared as marine sanctuaries. In 2015, half a million solar panels were installed every day, and in recent years emissions have stopped increasing. War zones are shrinking, now confined to an arc between Nigeria and Pakistan.

I know I have just bombarded you with numbers, but the size of them shows that overall, the world has gotten better, although there is still much more work to do. Life is worth living and longevity is worthwhile.

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