Allan Takes Aim Blog

Do YOU want to live longer?

Posted on: 2 May 2010


With health services in the news I thought this column appropriate. Much as it has been my intention to live twice as long as the person recorded as having lived longer than anyone else, extending the human life span will create enormous problems for society. Because of this, one might question if it makes sense to extend mans’ natural life span particularly if accompanied with good health, fitness and fertility.

Currently male life span is shorter than that of females, and though some older males manage to remain fertile, remaining fertile seems to be rare in older females. However, if life span is extended it seems logical to assume that both men and women will want to extend the age of procreation. If this happens a likely consequence is that older couples (it would be wrong to call them aged because in an extended life span a new definition of aged would have to be created) might want to continue having children.

And if older couples then become grandparents and their first-born also become grandparents, children born of older couples will become siblings of grandparents and even of great grandparents. It might happen also that in an extended life span more couples will divorce. If that happens the mind boggles at the possible social problems this might create.

Since first setting foot on earth, man has taken aeons to reach his current level of development. During his development he also became aware that good food and better hygiene helped him live longer and so he set out to develop better foods and hygiene systems. This in turn gave life to doctors, surgeons, dentists and myriad other medical disciplines. Indeed it could be argued that man has become too smart for his own good. This is a subject that merits greater discussion because of the need to discuss, if life span is extended, how older people will work and live.

 This is a problem already because older people are being encouraged to work longer. But working longer is of little value because governments’ (regardless of their political philosophy) use it to delay making proper plans to care for them when, inevitably, the time comes when they cannot work. Indeed the policies of working longer and living longer could be likened to shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic.

If giving birth in later years also becomes fact, the demand on health services will be even greater than at present. It would also be easy to dismiss my proposition as nonsense even though some women have shown they can give birth later in life as a result of in vitro fertilization, a process which suggests that, in an extended life span the possibility of natural births could occur.

Sustainable population activists will look at these suggestions with horror. It might even encourage them to push for the introduction of euthanasia. Others, of course, will argue that these people are not advocates of life but of death. Indeed I doubt many of them would willingly be euthanased to ensure what they consider a sustainable population.

And nor have I heard any realistic policy proposals from young male and female supporters of sustainable population about how population levels can be controlled. For example: advocating global birth control measures that would allow a family not more than two children? In a world where life span has been extended, couples capable of late age birth might have something to say about that.

While some politicians are sincere about caring for older people, I doubt the sincerity of others because I think their sincerity is based more on securing their future than ensuring the future health and welfare of older people.

This brings me to the reform of Australia’s alleged national health system. Some facts: Australia doesn’t have a national health system to reform but eight State and Territory health systems. Thus the alleged reform is simply the Commonwealth returning to the States and Territories billions (of their own) dollars that, hopefully, will help them improve their existing health systems. In other words, it’s a Clayton’s reform.

Finally, if you don’t believe life span and the age of procreation will extend, the evidence suggests otherwise. Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be around to enjoy the experience.

dca@netspeed.com.au

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1 Response to "Do YOU want to live longer?"

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