Happy 150th Birthday!


Happy 150th Birthday!

In her new book 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith (Basic), Pacific Research Institute senior fellow Sonia Arrison predicts that living more than a century will soon become common—and she's thrilled about it. But to some, the idea of a 150th birthday is nothing to celebrate. reason asked Arrison to address three common fears about radical life extension.

It's unnatural. During the Cro-Magnon era, life expectancy was 18 years. By the time of the European Renaissance, it was 30 years, and by 1850 that number had risen to 43. Today those born in Western societies can expect close to 80 birthdays. Which of those numbers—18, 30, 43, or 80—is natural? What is natural is the human drive for longer life spans.

Life will extend without health. Once it is possible to extend life by growing new organs through tissue engineering or curing cancer through techniques like gene therapy, health span will extend along with life span.

The world will become overpopulated. This fear rests on the false Malthusian idea that population grows faster than our ability to provide for ourselves. We haven't run out of resources as population has grown because humans are a resource themselves, providing problem-solving ideas. Furthermore, fertility and world population growth rates are on the decline.