On air: Is living longer always something to aspire to?


 And would you like to live to 100? We ask because you’re discussing related issues off the back of various stories…take at a look at this site recommended by WHYS listener Patti in Cape Floral. It predicts how long you’ll live.

The world still can’t save millions of children from dying before the age of five, but science has become so advanced that more than half of all babies born now in the world’s rich countries will live to be a 100 years old. Have we got our life priorities wrong?

The international aid agency, Save the Children, is trying to persuade people that a relatively small amount of money could radically reduce the numbers of children who die needlessly worldwide.

India is high on Save the Children’s list. It says that despite its rapid economic growth, the numbers of child mortality and child malnutrition in India remain shocking.

With four-hundred thousand children dying annually on the first day of their lives, India accounts for more than twenty per cent of global infant deaths.The ironic bit is that he world is getting older!

Below is a post that Emma wrote earlier about living to be a 100 years.

It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard this, but new research shows that more than half of all babies born now in the world’s rich countries will live to be a hundred years old. It’s a remarkable statistic – a testament to the huge improvements in public health and living standards made over recent decades. But is it all good news? Even in developed countries, older people can be subjected to age discrimination, live in poverty or in a vulnerable state of health, have a greater chance of developing dementia, and often have to deal with these problems all on their own

And what about poorer countries? How well equipped are they to dealing with an older population?

Would you like to live to a hundred? What are the benefits of being old? Is it worth celebrating – perhaps even fun? Or are you worried about getting older? What kind of changes do you think your society needs to make to help older people to live more comfortable and happy lives?

Another thought to add here , in light of the Save The Children campaign, has science got its priorites wrong? Should we focus more on stopping some chilldren die before five than helping others live to be a hundred?

106 Responses to “On air: Is living longer always something to aspire to?”

  1. 1 Tom K in Mpls
    October 2, 2009 at 15:39

    If I could truly ‘live’, of course. 10,000 could be good. But if were to depend on a plug to keep me alive, pull it today.

  2. 2 patti in cape coral
    October 2, 2009 at 15:46

    If I were reasonably healthy, could make it to the bathroom, and my kids still liked me, sure!

  3. 3 T
    October 2, 2009 at 16:52

    Quoting Al Pacino, “I plan on living to 150!”

  4. 4 steve
    October 2, 2009 at 16:54

    Really hope the fix the retirement systems if this happens. The longer you live, the more likely you are to get alzheimers/dimentia and be completely unable to take care of yourself.

    I think in reality, people get bored of life and look forward to dying. I have a cousin, and her husband died about 10 years ago. She’s 85 and constantly says she wishes she were in poor health..

  5. October 2, 2009 at 17:11

    I wont live long enough to get bored. If I can retain my faculties,yes. If I’m to be a head on a pillow, no.

  6. 6 steve
    October 2, 2009 at 17:18

    Seriously, think about it people. Where will the money come from to support these people? Given the high divorce rate, most of these people will be “alone” in conjunction with if they were married, the spouses usually don’t live as long.. So they will be older, alone, and unable to take care of themselves, the older the get. Someone is going to have to. If this is more common, then that means it will become more costly, and somebody has to pay for it.

  7. 8 vijay pillai
    October 2, 2009 at 17:29

    My grand parents lived up to 100 and near by my bed i have 10 dos and donts to reach 100.Thank for reminding.

  8. 9 patti in cape coral
    October 2, 2009 at 17:44

    Vijay, please tell us the dos and don’ts!

  9. 10 patti in cape coral
    October 2, 2009 at 17:59

    Here is a link to a life expectancy calculator if anyone is interested. You fill out a questionnaire and it tells you your life expectancy and what to do to improve it. Of course, I know this is approximate, but it was fun. It is a little strange, the things that will extend your life. For example, flossing your teeth will extend your life by 1.5 years! The life expectancy in your family appears to be a big factor. Despite my poor habits, my life expectancy is 83, in part because three of my grandparents were over 100 when they died.


  10. 11 John in Salem
    October 2, 2009 at 18:03

    It is now reasonable to expect some form of virtual immortality to be available within the next couple of decades – if you doubt this just Google “intra- cellular matrix” and take your pick of articles. Scientists all over the world are right now working on techniques to regenerate any organ in the body IN PLACE without the need for growing replacement parts or surgery.
    Forget 100 years – would you want to live to 200, 500, or 10,000 years – if you could keep the body you have now?
    You’d be advised to take the question seriously because it’s very possible you WILL be given the choice. Once the science is perfected no amount of legislating will uninvent it and at this point it looks like it will be cheap enough to be available to everyone, not just the wealthy or elite. The social and ethical questions for us as a species could not be more profound and yet no government in the world is trying to deal with them and most likely none will until it’s too late. If we want limitations – like mandatory sterility – we’d better start thinkng about it now.

    One other note – we only see the logic of evolution in hindsight. We have to assume that this is something that all sentient life has to eventually deal with and try to leave our parochial mythologies out of it.

    • 12 Kevin PE
      October 6, 2009 at 10:34

      500 years or more… just think of the mortgage term you could negotiate. On the downside, a life without parole sentence at 25 could be a real bummer. Cheap and available to all? Somehow I doubt it. Would be a sure winner on the futures market though.

  11. 13 Methusalem
    October 2, 2009 at 18:59

    “The days of our years are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty years; yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for it passes quickly, and we fly away.” [Psalm 90:10]

  12. 14 Jen
    October 2, 2009 at 19:27

    Heck yeah I wanna live to be 100!

  13. 15 Tom K in Mpls
    October 2, 2009 at 21:55

    How about this thought. Science is trying to solve all health issues via genetics. The most recent achievement is to cure colorblindness in monkeys. There is no malady they will not defeat, and the cures will start coming more quickly. When they beat them all, what do you have? Immortality! Coming soon to a clinic near you!

  14. 16 oreste assereto
    October 2, 2009 at 22:00

    Only if you can take care for yourself ( walk, eat, bad room, etc).
    The problem is not when you die, but how you die.
    Suffering is the issue.

  15. 17 Bert
    October 2, 2009 at 22:26

    Only 100? That isn’t nearly long enough. There’s too much fun stuff still to be done. For example, colonization of space. Who ever would have thought, in 1969, that 40 years later we would not have proressed AT ALL from that milestone? This fun stuff takes an incredibly long time, it turns out. And what about discovery of other life forms somewhere in this vast universe? Imagine what a complete and thorough revamping of our views of who we are would change, after such an event. I’d love to experience that.

    It goes without saying, though, that long life in poor health, especially poor mental health, changes that equation dramatically. So we need medical research to work feverishly in this area, especially with respect to dementia, in which medical research seems to be making hopeful discoveries of late.

  16. October 3, 2009 at 00:15

    Would you want to live to 100?

    Seems the real question here is how prepared we are to face our own mortality, rather than our desire to reach a ‘golden age’.

    Many posters have pointed out the economical problems of providing care for people who may not be able to look after themselves in old age, but we also have the issue of over – populating our planet to such an extent that the Earth’s finite resources would not be capable of sustaining such growth in numbers, caused by a lower death rate (if birth rates are ‘uncontrolled’) . That’s not to mention what the increased emissions, from a larger population, would do to accelerate global warming and its (dire) consequences for us.

  17. 19 claudine
    October 3, 2009 at 02:31

    I rather die at 70 just like that in the sleep than having to crawl and shake through the remaining 30 years.

  18. 20 Tan Boon Tee
    October 3, 2009 at 03:45

    At 100, how many of us can be in good health? Chances are we shall become invalid and depend on others to take care of us.

    The situation will be much worse if we are poor and live in an underdeveloped or developing country. We cannot avoid being a big burden to others as well as the nation. The resources utilised to look after our welfare could well be re-channeled for national development.

    I would not want to live to be a century old, unless I have the money, can still think clearly and move around by myself.

  19. 21 scmehta
    October 3, 2009 at 07:00

    I would never like to die miserable/ bed-ridden; pray and hope that it happens that way. It’s about retaining/maintaining good and independent state of health and not about the number of years one survives,

  20. 22 Claude
    October 3, 2009 at 07:02

    I decided how long I would live before I was born.

  21. 23 Malcolm McMahon
    October 3, 2009 at 09:24

    Surely the correct response is to pour money into gerontology (the study of aging). We want to extend middle age, not old age. The current reality is that both are being extended.

    But yes, I still recall the memorable dialogue:

    Hero: Do you want to live forever?!

    Pragmatist: Yes, or die trying.

  22. 24 Geoff Wall-Davis
    October 3, 2009 at 15:12

    Although deep down most of us would like to live to a great age, to make it pleasureable it must be accompanied with good health and quality of life.

  23. October 3, 2009 at 15:27

    I would want to live to 100. I would not want to exist to 100.

  24. 27 viola
    October 3, 2009 at 18:26

    re: John in Salem. Yes, and children and babies would become an endangered species. Such a possibility necessitates immigration out of the solar system.

    Hmm. If the universe is God (God being One and God being All) and we humans a part of the body of God, could humans refusing to die be the equivalent of cancer cells that refuse to die and eventually kill the host? Sorry–I digress.

  25. 29 Jim Newman
    October 4, 2009 at 03:13

    Hello again
    As long as I have projects that I can realise I don’t mind what age I die. I think everyone dies with unfinished business and I suppose it’ll be the same for me.

  26. 30 T Mustoe (Mr)
    October 4, 2009 at 20:31

    If I were 99 I’d like to see 100

  27. 31 Crispo, Uganda
    October 5, 2009 at 11:25

    First, the question has no logical connection with the information to its background. Advancement in health? So, how have we got our priorities wrong? Was the question supposed to have been: with many still dying amid advancement in health, have we got our priorities wrong? Something like that? Still it’s pretty much, ambiguous.

    Anyway, the so called advancement is of lesser value. Let me ask: have we become safer? NO. Why are new diseases emerging? (It’s well known that science solves one problem by creating more.)The fact is, we might have made significant progress in fighting, if not, eliminating certain diseases, which is fantastic. However, there is still a whole lot more needed if we are to emerge from this current trend of events.


    • October 5, 2009 at 12:02

      Crispo hi and thanks for your comment. You raise interesting issues in your post , some that may come up in our editorial meeting shortly and we may or may not rephrase the question if we decide this is the debate we’re doing. However, there was no need to put your last sentence all in capital letters, it goes against the blog rules and gives it a shouty tone that is unnecessary.

  28. 33 VictorK
    October 5, 2009 at 11:30

    “…has science got its priorites wrong? Should we focus more on stopping some chilldren die before five than helping others live to be a hundred”

    “Science” is an intellectual & practical discipline, not a person. The real issue is why some countries are so much better in pioneering medical advances and sharing the benefits amongst their people.

    Again, who are ‘we’? When one country takes responsibility for any aspect of the internal management of another country that’s usually called imperialism or colonialism. Would benign imperialism be good for the children of the undeveloped world? Should it happen against the collective will of the countries whose children will benefit? Is it right to use force to save the lives of children in medically incompetent/incapable countries? Now those are questions.

    • October 5, 2009 at 11:57

      Hello Victor and thanks for your comment. I understand that science is not a person. I don’t think the blog post suggests any kind of imperialism or colonialism. So I’m not sure how your question ‘Would benign imperialism be good for the children of the undeveloped world?’ fits in the conversation. The blog post’s aim was to point out the contrast between the advancemnet of science and the prospects of some children living to the age of a hundred years old and those who don’t live to see their fifth birthday.

  29. 36 Roy, Washington DC
    October 5, 2009 at 14:32

    Not to sound harsh, but letting so many people live to 100 only contributes to overpopulation, which puts a bigger strain on just about everything — especially natural resources and the health care system, both of which are already stretched thin. Nature didn’t intend for us to live that long, and I for one wouldn’t want to live what amounts to an artificial life at that point.

  30. 37 patti in cape coral
    October 5, 2009 at 14:44

    I keep thinking that science is finally going to unlock the secret of teleportation, and I will sadly not be around to see it!

  31. 38 Roberto
    October 5, 2009 at 15:13

    RE “” Should we focus more on stopping some chilldren die before five than helping others live to be a hundred? “”

    ———- Science and healthcare has always gone to and swung with the money.

    There is less money to be made assisting the poor’s overpopulation of children than there is creating entire industries around wealthy western geriatrics. That’s why the healthcare industry literally steals invaluable healthcare personnel from the 3rd world to work in the West.

    To quote noted “dog whisperer,” Cesar Millan, “Dogs in America get more affection than women in most Third World countries.” Could include children in that observation since it’s women usually caring for the kids.

  32. 39 Nigel
    October 5, 2009 at 15:33

    I remember something about the rule of “survival of the fittest”. If 50% of developed world’s children are living to 100 and the same percentage in the developing world die before 5 years then the sad truth is that we are proving this rule. The question then becomes how can we change the rule or the unfortunate facts that support it.

  33. 40 Tom K in Mpls
    October 5, 2009 at 15:34

    After the new title, this is now a truly a health care question. If everyone thinks it is possible to live a physically perfect life, the will be willing to finance all they can to get it. This is why costs will soar. A limit needs to be found. The cost of living could consume the joy of living. Until medical treatments become cost effective, few will get all they want.

  34. 41 BrigetteM
    October 5, 2009 at 15:45

    It is not just about living longer, it is about living better. If I can live a better, healthier, low impact, sustainable life, bring it. I would love to live to 100 and beyond. There is this great project here in Minnesota where AARP and Dan Buettner (author of the Blue Zones) are taking a small town and reinventing the way they live in an effort to be healthier and, in turn, live longer. The town is walking more, growing its own food, working together to add better years,not just more years. Check it out http://www.bluezones.com.

  35. 42 Viavesta
    October 5, 2009 at 15:52

    If you can live longer but are just as scared of dying, then what is the point of living longer? apparently practicing meditation techniques ( highly advanced, i guess) give you the ‘memory’ of earlier lives and insight into the future lives. this takes away the fear of dying because you realize dying is not permanent, just as living is not. now, that would be something to aspire to….

  36. 43 Ms.M
    October 5, 2009 at 16:04

    Living longer is something to aspire to, but its important to me to be in good health. Longevity does not mean you will necessarily be able to enjoy those years. I would only want to live longer than expected if I was able to maintain relatively good health, for example, feeding myself, going to the restroom, and not living with painful joints.

  37. 44 Dave in Florida
    October 5, 2009 at 16:15

    It would depend on the quality of life. If I am ill and/or Incapacitated, as well as a burden on my family, I have to say I would not care to live that long. However, if I could be healthy both physically and mentally — I would have love to see my 100th birthday!

  38. October 5, 2009 at 16:16

    Personally i like to live as long I can keep healthy, sane and with a purpose for being in this world. The worst nightmare one can have is to get totally incapacitated, unable to do anything without the help of the others.

    However, the notion of “ageing” should change as being 60 fifty years ago isn’t the same as today. Perhaps if old people become a substantial proportion of a certain society, there will emerge a new culture and a system of thinking that can make living to be 100 very normal.

    The hard task now is on economists, scientists and politicians to start adjusting societies to this coming social feature.

  39. 46 Kalai in San Francisco
    October 5, 2009 at 16:16

    In light of “Save the Children” campaign, OK, it is a great thing. But, the priority should be to educate rural people in India on family planning. What if we ‘save’ their children now and later they suffer more because of lack of resources? We have seen for the past few years that the farmers in Indian villages have been committing suicide in a significantly alarming number.

  40. 47 Tom K in Mpls
    October 5, 2009 at 16:44

    This is from the current top BBC news piece regarding the latest Nobel prize: “Their work revealed how the chromosomes can be copied and has helped further our understanding on human ageing, cancer and stem cells.”

    The reason is, improper cell division/replication is what causes aging and cancer. The incorrect replication is what cancer is. Also when the body ‘forgets’ how to correctly replicate cells, you get aging. Immortality is getting closer.

  41. 48 Count Iblis
    October 5, 2009 at 16:51

    A few deades from now, science will become even more advanced:


    It’s predicted that by 2029 computer intelligence will equal the power of the human brain. Some believe this will revolutionise humanity – we will be able to download our minds to computers extending our lives indefinitely. Others fear this will lead to oblivion by giving rise to destructive ultra intelligent machines.

  42. 49 Tamatoa, Zurich
    October 5, 2009 at 16:53

    From a religious point of view – we prepare our soul in this life to be judged and rewarded in the next life – age is irrelevant because you can become self-centered at any age. A long life does not equal a pure soul.
    Second the high child mortality in third world countries vs the western world’s aging population is nothing more than a representation that the distribution of wealth is getting more extreme all the time. Societies will change in the future when wealth is distributed more equally.
    More interesting is the question how society can support older people when retirement age is around 65-67. I don’t think societies can sustain that. It would mean that the age of retirement would have to be renegotiated or maybe jobs for the elderly have to be created.

  43. 50 nora
    October 5, 2009 at 16:54

    Infant death rates we can address. Food, love, hope and birth control are all known to lower infant mortality. Clean water.

    It is up to chance how long I live so why worry about it?

    • 51 Jennifer
      October 5, 2009 at 19:40

      Birth control affects infant morality rates?

      Birth control can mean certain death to babies in the womb if it is effective. They are snuffed out because of selfish reasons before they even have a chance to live.

      On the other hand, are you saying that you want to use birth control for population control? And you think that will prevent abuse and neglect?


  44. October 5, 2009 at 17:11

    I think its the quality of life you live and the number of people whose life you impact positively. I do not want to live a long life but a life with a message, filled with zeal, passion and courage.

  45. 53 archibald
    October 5, 2009 at 17:12

    I would like to live as long as possible, provided I am not a burden, to those I love, nor the world around me. At that point, it will be time to depart, assisted or self inflicted. Human beings are the only reason that we see such appalling deteriorations in our environment. We are the most significant burden to life as we know it, on the planet.
    I guess that means I should exit immediately, considering, by my very nature, I am a burden on the planet, creating garbage, using up resource, breathing up air. Where can this discussion really lead WHYS? Assisted suicide for everyone? Colonies on the moon? Possibly a sensible reduction in the amount of children being needlessly brought into the world, because, of a massive lack of birth control.

    October 5, 2009 at 17:13

    A hundred years is not important for me its just a number. I do not want to live for far too long but rather long enough. My ideal is 70 and that is iff i make it. 80 is more than enough. What is important for me is what I do before that benchmark.

    My feelings come from observing that we are not developing social support system but rather moving towards isolated individualism or societies that are getting less and less humane and stressful. Bad statistics convince me that I have in fact lived long enough although seeing the approach of every morning is a source of joy. But life is good; praise God!.

  47. 55 Julia in Portland
    October 5, 2009 at 17:15

    I have always wanted to be old and wise….I’m getting one much faster than the other. LOL

    I want to live as long as I am worth something to someone – I don’t want to be someone discarded into a home, unloved and forgotten. If that were that case, just let me die in peace.

    BTW, I am not saying people put into homes are all unloved and forgotten, I am just saying I don’t want to be some sort of left over inconvenience or burden that no one cares about.

  48. October 5, 2009 at 17:17

    I think its the quality of life you live and the number of people whose lives you impact positively that matters. I do not want to live a long life but a life with a message, filled with zeal, passion and courage. Its not really how long you live, but how well.

  49. October 5, 2009 at 17:20

    personaly, i dont wat to live that long. however, based on the calculator(http://calculator.livingto100.com) i got 83 years…neat 🙂

  50. 58 Tracy in Portland, OR
    October 5, 2009 at 17:21

    There are too many people. We have reached a level of unsustainability. I doubt I will live to 100. I am also highly suspect of the probability of most folks making it to 100. At least here in the US, our diets and lifestyles are unhealthy. There are so many of us now look at how susceptible we have become to the spread of illness. Perhapse with medical intervention we can live to a unhealthy, extremely costly 100, but I wouldn’t want to. Life is precious but I do not believe in preserving it at any cost. Our science has outgrown our morality. I agree with Kalai in San Francisco. We need to put our resources into education, and family planning. Raise the quality of life for those already here, and stop burdening ourselves with more hungry moulths to feed.

    In Portland OR

  51. 59 patti in cape coral
    October 5, 2009 at 17:28

    I remember a study some time ago that one of the doctors I work for was telling me about that was very exciting, because it was showing that when rats were kept in a constant state of near-starvation, they lived a lot longer than rates who were allowed to eat normally. I told him that maybe years of near-starvation just feel longer!

  52. 60 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    October 5, 2009 at 17:35

    Many of the infants and young children who die from easily preventable causes are born to women who have no access to family planning, prenatal care, and who do not have say in their own reproductivity. Before we can address the problem of child mortality in any meaningful way, we must first address the issues that affect their mothers becoming mothers.

    As to the issue of longevity, I think it’s too early to try to decide what’s best. Science has made extraordinary advances, and will continue to do so, but there is so much that we do not know. My father was a health nut, he exercised until after he was 90, he ate right, addressed the spiritual side of life, and died demented in a nursing home at age 93 with no meaningful quality of life left.

    Before we can try to figure out what’s right to do regarding infant mortality and old age, we must first accumulate a whole lot more evidence.

  53. 61 John in Salem
    October 5, 2009 at 17:37

    Interesting you should mention leaving the solar system – if we are truly limited by the speed of light then virtual immortality is the only thing that would make interstellar travel practical.
    And think of what else you could do. Go to school, get a medical degree and spend 100 years working in developing countries, then go back to school, get an advanced degree in engineering and spend the next 100 years building clean energy sources, then go back to school, etc… you get the idea.
    And then there’s the whole question of climate change. Personally I think people would tend to be a lot more conscientious if they knew that THEY, and not some distant descendant, were going to have to live with the consequences of their lifestyles.

  54. 62 Anthony
    October 5, 2009 at 17:43

    No way. That’s just selfish in every aspect to drag on as much as possible. Hopefully I’ll die at about 70, and if I’m close to death and people try to save me (if I can) I’m pulling out the tubes and wires.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  55. 63 Eileen Dight
    October 5, 2009 at 17:58

    @ Claudine, who wants to be put to sleep at 70:
    I can heartily recommend getting old, provided one is well enough to enjoy life. I’m just past your sell-by date, too unfit to dance in a disco or ride a bike, but I can read, write, communicate, cogitate and smell the coffee. My time’s my own, filled with enjoyable activities of my choice and a few good friends, so I’m having the time of my life. However, if I get dementia, please give me the pills.

    I think I might get very tired by the time I’m 89, but no doubt some nonagenarians still relish life. Without resources, comfort and a loving family, extreme old age would be tough. Quality of life is vastly more important than quantity.

  56. 64 Linda in Italy
    October 5, 2009 at 18:02

    I’m not sure how long I want to live, but all I want for myself is a productive, interesting life that I’m as much in control of as I can be. I’m extremely glad I work as a freelance so no ageist corporate body is going to decide I’m past it at 65 and chuck me on the scrap heap. This would silence all the shock-horror demographic time-bomb prophets of doom in one go if the arbitrary retirement age were swept away.
    I very much doubt if I will actually live to 100 as I smoke about 50 cigarettes a day, am extremely fond of red wine and loathe all forms of physical exercise – mental gymnastics is entirely something else. Unfortunately senile dementia runs in my family so would far rather drop dead quickly of some smoking related stroke or heart attack.

  57. 65 Linda in Italy
    October 5, 2009 at 18:03

    Relating this issue to the horrible child death statistics, is a bit of a non-sequitur. People in dire poverty with no hope of advancement tend to have a lot of children as they can only bank on a few surviving into adulthood, and with no social services, who will look after them in their old age. Solve this situation, educate and empower women not to accept their position as mere breeding machines, then the situation should sort itself out – but that would take an awful lot of political will to turn the focus away from competing ideologies to concentrate on taking care of this planet and ALL its inhabitants.

  58. 66 Mike in Seattle
    October 5, 2009 at 18:09

    A couple points:

    1. The nations which have the longest average lifespans tend to have the lowest (and sometimes negative) birthrates. Longer lifespans at some point would help the environment at some point.

    2. At least here in the United States, one of the most powerful lobbying organizations is the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Those who are older tend to have more time for political activity, and they vote in greater numbers. If they want their governments to support them, they will or they will be voted out.

    Is it any wonder why the only group of people in the US that has single payer health care are those over the age of 65?

    In the end, so long as the quality of life can be maintained, I don’t see a problem with prolonging life. With respect to Save the Children, it’s not a zero sum game. We could spend a whole lot less money on our military and defense programs.

  59. 67 Reverend Wallace Ryan
    October 5, 2009 at 18:12

    I’m 48 years old and the only reason I hope to live for 100 years is to see Halley’s Comet again. Maybe next time, it will be bigger.

    Life is sweet because it is as short as the blink of an eye…

  60. 68 Adam
    October 5, 2009 at 18:13

    I think we need to find a point where it’s OK to let people decide for themselves what quality of life is worth living for them. No one else should be able to decide for you. If, however, they can’t decide for themselves, then I think it needs to have a previously agreed upon limit (decided by age, health, cost or crisis level) to use medical intervention. Or they would need to designate a person who they trust to make the decision for them. It need not be a family member, but a person they trust who can decide that at this point too much medical intervention is necessary to continue life.

  61. 69 Simón
    October 5, 2009 at 18:16

    The thought of living to 100 fills me with absolute horror! I’m a very healthy 73 now and do not want to look forward to the depletion of the world’s natutral resources especially water. This poor planet will be incapable of supporting 9 billon people, I am convinced that the next world war will be over water. Modern medicine is saving more and more lives when in fact I believe that those who are naturally weak should be allowed to die.

  62. 70 Jessica in NYC
    October 5, 2009 at 18:16

    Sure, we should aspire to a longer life so long as we have excellent health insurance, a great pension plan, a fabulous saving account with a well planned retirement with a conformable place to live.

    And Ros, apparently I’m living until I’m 96, so I’ll be keep Madeleine company on the blog.

  63. October 5, 2009 at 18:16

    Longevity is excellent provided you have good health, an enquiring mind and a loving family. All these factors contribute to a positive frame of mind. Seeing one’s children, grand-children and great grandchildren succeed in life is such a rewarding experience and definitely adds to the real zest for life. If one is ailing and lonely, life has no meaning.

  64. 72 Tom D Ford
    October 5, 2009 at 18:27

    I used to want to live to 120 so that I could see how it all shakes out by then. I was very optimistic..

    Now I am experiencing the downsides of growing older and I am rethinking it all.

    If I could be dancing and laughing myself to death at 120, yes, that would be good.

  65. 73 Eric in Salem Or
    October 5, 2009 at 18:28

    What’s wrong with just living as long as we do. When it’s your time checkout. Have fun, be nice, and the time doesn’t matter. Living a good life for a year or for a hundred is all the same. It’s a good life.

  66. 74 Charley in Portland, Oregon
    October 5, 2009 at 18:31

    I personally don’t plan to live much past 75.

    Given the global trends in population growth & environmental decline over my first 50 years; I don’t expect that the world will be a very good place to live by 2034.

    I also don’t want to be a burden on my relatives or society, so I feel it is my duty to “die & get out of the way” once I become too frail to take care of myself.

      October 5, 2009 at 19:37

      @Charley in Portland, Oregon,
      I agree with you on this. A lot of the beauty of this planet has been sucrificed at the alter of commerce and yet this has not made us a happier human race. Much of the trendy living is mirrored on few celebrities of which I am not one. What I have learned is that once the nature around people is distroyed, their own nature within starts disintegrating accordinly. Small talk and crititical thinking degenerate into a subject in banking and commerce leaks into our best minds.

      Just the other day. I was reading on this blog about natural disasters though I did not post. Can you imagine, most of my friends on this blog sounded like economic majors that had strayed on the dabate about disasters. They really tried I tell you. You saw it! Read it and you will wonder how mankind has made it this far based on some arguments. No! I am here as long as there is energy in me to contribute to nature and the human society; whatever the service.

  67. 76 james
    October 5, 2009 at 18:33

    hi All,

    I am writing from Berlin.

    I am listening to your show and can not help but feel slightly uncomfortable. I realise that the true agenda of the program is eugenics and world depopulation.

    All the talk on both sides of the argument are missing the point if this is not properly addressed.

  68. 77 Brian Roller
    October 5, 2009 at 18:34

    I want to keep living and keep working as long as possible. I’m currently a 22 year old graduate student and plan to follow in the footsteps of scientists that continued to work and stay sharp until they were physically or mentally unable to work. Being in academia will give me plenty of control of my own schedule and do the things I want to in life.

    I think I will be able to contribute to society through research or teaching. I want to live to 100 or 130 if I could.

  69. October 5, 2009 at 18:35

    we have enough room for everyone, we have enough food for everyone, we have enough medicine for everyone. the delivery systems for these things are what need to change as we change and grow older.

    i’m also waiting for flying cars. c’mon science, get on it!

  70. 79 Kristina
    October 5, 2009 at 18:36

    Most people seem to be answering this question with a “Yes, but…if I’m healthy”. I would argue that this stipulation is discriminatory and undervalues the contributions our elders can make to society. Just because someone (of any age) has physical disabilities or even cognitive disabilities does not automatically equate that they are unable to contribute to society.

    Our elders have been living for many more years than your average person, and thus have likely gained significantly more wisdom about how the world works, how the world could/should work and what we can do better to be a happier and healthier people and society.

    Why does the characteristic of being old make us think we can decide someone’s value?

    The question itself is discriminatory and greatly disappoints me. Are we all really so prejudice against our elders?

  71. 80 Tom K in Mpls
    October 5, 2009 at 18:36

    Also, this is what all the talk in the US regarding Obama’s ‘Death Panels’ is all about. The question is, should the government or citizens decide when to quit applying resources.

  72. 81 James River
    October 5, 2009 at 18:40

    As visiting nurse, I used to see a woman who what 98. Her comment was “That’s too many years! Everything hurts!”

    Why is most of our society so afraid of death? It is as natural as birth, and inevitably follows birth.

    One of my images of “Hell” would be as a patient in and intensive care unit, kept alive with no home of real, long-term improvement.

    If I am healthy, and contributing to society in some way, fine, I’ll live.
    If I’m not, let me go!

  73. 82 Gerald Choo
    October 5, 2009 at 18:43

    A Singaporean living in Tokyo, Japan.

    I see many elderly people in Japan and they look happy to be old and alive! They have a life and are not just alive. I think being able to have something to do when one is old is of utmost importance.

    I am only 23 now so it might be hard for me to imagine what it would be like for me 77 years later. In fact, I have always thought that it would be better to die soon after you have done what you had wished to do when alive than live a long but meaningless life after retirement. I don’t wish to live to 100!

    My grandfather lived till 89 but in my heart, he was no longer around after the age of 85. Modern medication kept him alive but he was no longer who he was. The last few years were exhausting for my family and it was frustrating for my grandfather.

    I would rather have had fond memories of a grandfather who passed away early than fond AND bad memories of a grandfather who lived close to 100 years old.

  74. 83 Bert
    October 5, 2009 at 18:44

    One thing for people to keep in mind is that in the animal kingdom, longer life is usually accompanied by a lower birth rate. So it’s not really valid to ASSUME that longevity results in overpopulation.

    Among humans, especially, longer life expectancy is definitely accompanied by quite low birth rate.

  75. 84 Donna in Yamhill Oregon
    October 5, 2009 at 18:47

    Our beautiful planet has been overpopulated for hundreds of years, and has passed the tipping point. Earth is a rare gem in the universe and WE are destroying its life support systems for many other species as well as our own. It is very selfish to want to continue on no matter what the costs. Everything that lives must die. People should be made comfortable in their declining years. I am 62.

  76. 85 Eric in France
    October 5, 2009 at 18:47


    Are we, from all possible ages, ready to pay for a health system to keep us alive as long as possible? I mean at a given time the consensus must be of at least 95%, because it will mean soon a health taxation of 20-25%.

    By the way, I think we should also allow assisted suicide for those who do not want to continue, but science can.

    It is fine to live 200 years if the head and the rest are doing fine.


  77. 86 "root" from Oregon, USA
    October 5, 2009 at 18:52

    We talk about the very difficult moral dilemma of how given limited resources we might need to reconsider our investment in caring for the health of the elderly. However, the dilemma, as I see it, is in the unequal distribution of resources. When 20% of resources is available to 80% of people, this 80% struggles with this type of question. Wouldn’t it be more productive to consider that we all deserve to live dignifying lives starting with a fairer distribution of resources? Social injustices cost all of us much, much, much more than the care for the elderly will ever do.

  78. 87 juli
    October 5, 2009 at 18:52

    Live to 100? Personally I’d like to decline.
    I think it should be a personal goal not anything society/government should control.
    It is really beyond our control and eventually, given current trends, choice will not matter. The earth will find equilibrium.

  79. 88 mark from Ohio
    October 5, 2009 at 18:57

    No! People are just chicken! Especially Americans! A nation of >80% christians and everybody wants to BREAK THE BANK TO STAY ALIVE as long as possible…HMMM perhaps religion is just an insurance policy.

  80. October 5, 2009 at 18:59

    A person’s health care should be prioritized, regardless of age, dependent on if he can afford it. A death committee should never decide who’s life is more valuable and more worth saving; the NAZIs tried that in the 1940s.

  81. 90 Jen in Oregon
    October 5, 2009 at 18:59

    It is unethical to continue to pour large amounts of money into intensive care for elderly people or even middle aged people who have severe, chronic medical problems when we are not providing basic medical care for children and young working people who are trying to raise chiildren. I am a physician and limits on expensive medical care at the end of life must be addressed on a larger societal level, because they cannot be made in the setting of the individual doctor-patient relationship.

  82. 91 Half-Not
    October 5, 2009 at 19:01

    All life is selfish in one way or another! And, don’t forget it!

    There is not ‘a world’—there is ‘your world.’ When it ends the world ends. If someone wants to live for as long as they can, that is their choice, and no one should say otherwise or go against their wishes. If medicine is willing to assist, if they can assist themselves, then it is simply none of our business.

    These seemingly responsible and concerned people, talking about overpopulation are frankly scary. They have taken an argument and concept that they obviously don’t have the intelligence to put to good use, and applied it willy-nilly with a fool’s board stroke.

    • October 6, 2009 at 03:22

      @ Half-Not.


      I get your point. You’re right in summing up one (less virtuous) aspect of human nature – selfishness.

      But no-one is suggesting that people are dissuaded from living longer, as you say, it is no-one else’s business. We are only discussing the problems that are presented by a growing population on the Earth’s already strained vital resources.

      Unfortunately, it is a fact, for example, that many parts of the world are / will suffer from fresh water shortages. Even today, certain countries that share a common water source have to rely on international agreements to ensure countries downstream receive an adequate, unpolluted supply. This would not work if selfish behaviour ruled.

      Speaking as someone who has designed systems to treat and deliver water; I can tell you in very simple terms the more ‘contamination’ you have in a given raw water supply the more energy and raw materials / chemicals will be required to clarify it. We have plenty of water in our oceans and the technology exists, so why do you think it has not become commonplace to use this? This is the problem with all man-made solutions; they create additional problems elsewhere.

      When we run out of fossil fuels, we also lose a cheap high energy density source so it makes it even less attractive (economically) to go for an energy intensive process to treat the water that we need to stay alive; much easier to pillage it from weaker neighbours. As one poster has already suggested the next world war could be over water.

      When people talk about “saving the planet” in truth what this really means is saving ourselves. Quite selfish isn’t it?

      So the question is, selfish or not, would you want to live to 100 in a world like this?

      P.S. Sorry for scaring you 🙂

    • 93 Tom K in Mpls
      October 6, 2009 at 17:31

      I agree with you on all points, as far as you went. But when you or I have to pay for others, what then?

  83. 94 patti in cape coral
    October 5, 2009 at 20:12

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Half-Not.

  84. 95 Kassandra
    October 5, 2009 at 21:04

    Half-Not, no one, of course, can decide how long others or they themselves will live. It is not us who decide. However, I do want to have the choice to end my life when I no longer want to go on living. It is also solely my prerogative! All life certainly is selfish and the world today provides us with many reminders of this fact. The problem, however, is that “selfish” is not going to work indefinitely – it is not sustainable. It is selfishness that has rendered our planet to the state it finds itself now; it is also selfishness that continues to destroy it. It is again selfishness together with ignorance that are responsible for all of those child lives that end up in infant mortality statistics. And don’t you forget that!

    It is precisely the truly concerned and responsible who understand the collateral damages involved if we continue to reproduce irresponsibly, without consideration and rationalism. All living organisms on this earth have respective predators which help keep the population of all species in check. Except humans! We have indeed surpassed the reasonable limits and this, in turn, WILL affect our quality of life and of everyone else on this planet. As it already does, indeed! Humans have demonstrated along the millions of years of their existence on this earth, that they do not deserve this planet.

  85. 96 Halima
    October 5, 2009 at 22:22

    I am over 60, and live alone though I keep in touch with my grown children who live far away. ( I moved around a lot – which is why we live far away from each other)
    It is not DYING early I am concerned about – it is living with poor quality of life – living with illness, or wasting and degenerative disease, being too frail to look after myself or move about, being dependant on others for intimate care. I fear that far more than dying early. If it were possible to be strong and able until death – contribute in some way with work and meaningful activity, pursue interests and be part of society – yes. to be feeble and require expensive care for years on end – no.
    The problem is, how can we possibly know which of these a long life will bring? And who decides at what point it is no longer worth it? The question is moot. It is not about “rights” it is about how to deal with old age as best we can. I suppose it is our responsibility to look after our health, so that when that later stage comes, we are as able as possible to enjoy it. I do not want intensive care to keep me alive if my body is ready to go, but I want to go on as long as I can while strong and able.

  86. 97 Couldn't care less
    October 5, 2009 at 23:20

    The quality of one’s life is just as, if not more, important than its mere length. Personally, I dread becoming either physically or mentally decrepit and completely dependant on others. A tolerable 3-score and ten is preferable to a miserable 4-score and ten thus a gun with only one bullet in it does have its uses.

  87. 98 Realist
    October 6, 2009 at 03:16

    It is irresponsible for people to have children if they can’t care for them.

    It is likewise irresponsible for people to breed in a situation where they can’t expect their child to survive.

    The problem is not the lack of health care or sanitation. The problem is that people are having children who should not.

    There are already too many humans and making it so that all these children live to be 100 is a terrible sin.

  88. 99 KurtP
    October 6, 2009 at 03:21

    With the earth nearly destroyed by humans already, the last thing we want to do is expand health care so that anyone can breed without any concern for whether their children will survive.

  89. 100 PeterD
    October 6, 2009 at 11:04

    Reducing suffering is something well worthwhile, but adding extra years to life seems a little arbitrary and rather pointless to me. The calculator kindly tells me I can expect to live till 86, but my personal doctors tell me I will be dead long before then. Good luck to you all.

  90. October 6, 2009 at 11:06

    Watch out for my post on this blog in 2090, I will then be well over a hundred. I look forward to getting out of bed each morning…have done that for over 20 year; not planning on changing my mind.
    However, as a Christian, I dont worry about living or dying, God is in charge of both.

  91. 102 Ibrahim in UK
    October 6, 2009 at 11:59

    I think it’s more about the quality than the quantity (but I would say that, I’m a man)

    On the question of priorities of science: the problem is not one of science, it’s one of social responsibility.
    No amount of science will stop people from suffering age discrimination, unequal wealth distribution or living alone away from their children. This is something mankind has to change within themselves. Science is a tool, not a guide.

  92. October 6, 2009 at 14:33

    yes,I do want to live longer especial my 70 yrs designated by God for me on this earth.

  93. October 7, 2009 at 07:16

    I’ve worked and cared for the elderly, and believe me it’s not nice if you can’t do things for yourself. Most elderly patients with healthy bodies had Alzimers or similar diseases, and the ones who had their facalties had terrible body illnesses. If I could stay healthy and manage on my own – yes, I’d like to live to be 100 years old. Money would also be a factor in living longer. I can’t see many people on low incomes living to be 100 years old.

  94. October 8, 2009 at 08:57

    Our view of the elderlly is a reflection of how selfish and and unreasonable we have become. The world is supposed to be for the young and beautiful with the old to be thrown out or put away where they cannot be seen. I hope both my parents live to be 100 and give me the opportunity to repay their sacrifice , i hope they will be their for my children as their parents were their for me and should i live be 100 i hope the values instilled in my children to honour and respect the old will count.

  95. November 7, 2009 at 11:26

    Amazing blog very informative it would be helpful for me..thanks for sharing I’ll recommend your site to my friends and family members great job very appreciated..keep it up..

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