Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Aging Is a Global Disaster That Needs to Be Solved

I've written about aging and dying (and how to avoid them) mostly from a subjective standpoint on this blog, but there are also objective reasons for curing aging. The world's population is growing old, and it's going to be a big problem for everyone.

The LifeStar Institute has published a promotional video detailing what's wrong with aging from a global perspective. The mission of the LifeStar World Health Initiative is:

To dramatically mitigate the negative consequences of global aging within 20 years by preventing the loss of productivity associated with chronic disease through ensuring approaches able to restore physiological and cognitive function are developed and made available to all humanity.

The video does a really good job of showing how aging is not just a personal tragedy but also a financial catastrophe. So even if you find the concept of becoming frail, forgetful, and completely dependent on other people somehow comforting, you will probably find it much less comforting that in a few decades, there will simply be too many mouths to feed for elderly healthcare to work as intended.

The entire social security system is based on the premise that the next generation provides for the previous generation. A state-mandated version of the ancient system of the young taking care of the old. Like a true Ponzi scheme, it rests on the assumption that there will be a next generation. If there isn't, the system suddenly collapses. If the next generation is always slightly smaller than the previous generation, the system crumbles, slowly but surely.

In developed nations, birth rates are declining, and the general population is getting older. In 20 years, one in four individuals will be over 60. This means a dramatic increase in healthcare costs, as treating age-related conditions is responsible for the overwhelming majority of these costs. And yet, where will all that money come from when a large part of the population is waiting for treatment instead of working?

In about five minutes, LifeStar Institute video manages to brilliantly expose the fallacy of supporting medical treatment of aging-related diseases while opposing the treatment of aging itself – which is how the majority thinks at the moment, unfortunately. It's equivalent to saying you support someone living five years longer but oppose that they live ten years longer. Or that you support giving morphine to a patient but not curing their illness. Pain relief is really what treating age-related conditions is.

So much money is directed into treating the symptoms that we've become blind to the underlying problem: aging. Even worse, when the blind are made to see, the tired old objections echo all over again. What about death being an essential part of nature? What about accepting things as they are? What about overpopulation? What about limited resources?

All of these probably deserve a refutation (a subject for future posts), but all of them are completely insignificant in the face of the catastrophe of aging. Aging sweeps the floor with all of them. No matter how big a problem overpopulation might theoretically be – because in practice it won't be – it is nothing compared to the fact that aging kills more people every day than anything else. Infections, wars, natural disasters, all are tiny drops in the bucket.

The problem of aging is of such a magnitude that it doesn't even register as a problem in most people's minds. This line of thinking needs to be changed, because the problem can be solved. And sooner or later, it will be solved – the question is only whether you and I will be there to witness it.

For more information on aging and how to solve it, see these posts:

Taking Life Sciences to an Extreme: From Homo Sapiens to Homo Evolutis
The 7 Types of Aging Damage That End up Killing You
Biotechnology and the Future of Aging
Anti-Aging in the Media: Vancouver Sun on Immortality

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