Posts Tagged ‘Life expectancy’

The inexorable numbers – 10:10:10:100 is inevitable around 2100

December 4, 2013

10:10:10:100 by 2100

The “success” of a species is generally taken to be indicated by its population though it is of course possible to have quantity without much quality of life. In general however, an increasing population of any species does indicate the sufficiency of food, the ability of the species to withstand competition from other species and the ability to breed successfully in the prevailing conditions. And so it is for humans. Based on population, modern humans have never been as successful as they currently are. And in spite of all the doom-sayers and the alarmists, the fact remains that more humans are being fed and housed and are achieving some large part of their aspirations than ever before. They are living longer than ever before  and their life expectancy is still increasing – currently by about 2 -3 months every year.

However  just looking at the crude birth rate (number of births per 1000 of population) might lead one to a conclusion that there was a catastrophic decline in the human species.

Crude Birth Rate / 1000 of population

Crude Birth Rate / 1000 of population

Birth rates have declined from about 37/1000 in 1950 to less than 15/1000 now and are projected to be around 10/1000 by 2100. For any other species that would be a catastrophic decline. But of course that conclusion would be quite wrong when applied to humans. The mortality rate of humans has also declined drastically as medical and public health advances have been made. And human ingenuity has maintained food and material supplies such that life expectancy has increased in spite of a booming population.

Birth and mortality rates

Birth and mortality rates

The fact that population and life expectancy have increased simultaneously is a clear indicator that the quality of life has not deteriorated. There may be problems of equitable distribution but there is no shortage of food or other resources – and no prospect of any catastrophic shortages occurring. All other indicators tell the same story. Infant mortality, poverty and malnourishment are all at all-time lows and declining even if these can be lower still. The real GDP per capita is increasing. Leisure time (time not spent on the requirements for survival) is increasing and for more people than ever before. The age of space exploration and the potential for access to new sources of raw materials and even real estate has already begun.

There are many who rail against the consumer society and materialism but generally do so from a position of some comfort. There are others who moan the loss of spirituality and yearn for a return to a simpler life but they too are not quite ready to return to the trees. There is no shortage of doom-mongers and alarmists who merely keep pushing their doomsdays into the future where they cannot be disproved.

It is a question of attitude. There are those who would prefer to be governed by fear (the precautionary principle) and there are others who would move forward in spite of their fears.

But the reality is that the human species – with all its warts and threats and self-inflicted problems – is thriving.

Population and life expectancy WPP2012

Population and life expectancy WPP2012

It is not a forecast or an objective but merely the inexorable arithmetic of demographics which leads to the inevitability of 10:10:10:100 around the year 2100.

10 billion population, 10 births per 1000 of population, 10 deaths per 1000 of population and a life expectancy at birth of 100 years.

I prefer to see the glass half-full rather than the glass half-empty.

The first 200 year old human has already been born

December 27, 2012

The journalist Henrik Lennart has a new book out  in Swedish – “Åldrandets gåta” (The Mystery of Aging), where he interviews the worlds leading researchers and demographers about aging. Our descendants will have to learn to have many careers within their lifetimes.

Science has long envisaged a limit to how long a person can live – around 120 years. But now research is catching up with our fantasies. Henrik Lennart interviews the world’s leading researchers specializing in aging. They all come to the same conclusion: We, and especially our children, will live far longer than is common today.

Why? Improved standards of living come into play but also our lifestyles. Advice from the experts can differ: eat fewer calories, stand up when you are working, fast or cut down on meat and sugar. These choices certainly affect the aging of cells, and when researchers finally find the genes that control lifespan and have learned how to control them, the question will become:

How old would we like to be?

Aftonbladet reports:

Some researchers believe that the first human who will live to be 200 years old is already living.

“According to our calculation, half of the children born in Sweden in 2012 will live to be 104 years old”, says demographer James Vaupel.  Life expectancy has increased steadily over the past hundred years. ….. Today, the average life expectancy in Sweden is 83 years for women and 79 for men.

In a new book “The Mystery of Aging” journalist Henrik Lennart has  interviewed demographers and scientists who believe that statisticians world-wide have systematically underestimated the rate of increase of life expectancy and that this has been going on for a very long time.

Statisticians have not fully considered the influence of welfare reforms, better living conditions and more efficient healthcare. To get a more accurate picture one of the world’s best-known demographers James Vaupel, along with a group of prestigious scientists have made new calculations where they have added a factor to reflect the impact of as yet unknown developments – not dramatic but which can be expected in the future.

Their calculations show that half of all the children born in Sweden this year will live to be 104 years old. “In the future, we could live to be ten times older. Why not? It will take time to get there but it is certainly not impossible. In my opinion it is quite likely that there is a rather small child already born somewhere who will live to be more than 200 years old”, says James Vaupel who is interviewed in “The Mystery of Aging.”

Svenska Dagbladet adds:

James Vaupel and Cambridge researcher Jim Oeppen have previously shown that the curve of women’s life expectancy in the Western world has increased at an even and steady pace of three months per year for 160 years. Swedish statistics extend further back than in most other countries, and this increase has been by an average of 2.5 months per year since 1751.

Previously, scientists believed that there was a ceiling for the average life expectancy of  a little over 80 years. Today this ceiling has shifted up at least a decade, and continues to rise.

“We no longer know if there is any ceiling and where it lies if it does exist”, says James Vaupel.

At this rate everybody will be living to around 200 years by 2500.

Cut out one hour of watching TV and you can smoke two extra cigarettes!

November 2, 2012

An Australian group of scientists have published the results of a new study in the October issue of The British Journal of Sports Medicine.

This then passes for “scientific research”!!!

From the New York Times:

…. Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the authors said. ……

Ah well! They are scientists, probably wear white coats and could not possibly be idiots.

120 years on and Chekhov’s depressive alarmism has not changed

October 13, 2012

I was listening to BBC radio this morning where somebody was talking about a new production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. The play was written in 1896 and the speaker quoted this line from the play:

“There are fewer and fewer forests, rivers are drying up, wildlife has become extinct, the climate is ruined, and the earth is becoming ever poorer and uglier.”

“Prescient” commented the speaker.

Prescient? I wondered. There is no shortage of forests, climate continues its normal cycles, some species have died and new ones found and the world has become richer and cleaner. No, just a depressed Russian of the 1890’s, and one without hope or any belief in the ingenuity of humans. Not prescient, just another alarmist now proven wrong.  And his kind of Malthusianism is alive and well even today – and is just as wrong.

In 1897 the world population was 1.5 billion with about 60% living in poverty. Life expectancy was about 32 years (average). At that time some 600 million people were being fed clothed and supported in a reasonably satisfactory way. In 2012 the world population has grown to 7 billion with about 25% still living in poverty (and the threshold for poverty has changed drastically). Average life expectancy is now 67 years. Today some 5 billion people are fed and clothed and supported in a reasonably satisfactory way. Almost 10 times as many as in 1896.

In another 120 years the current sayings of the Malthusians, the climate alarmists, the energy alarmists, the food alarmists, the resource alarmists and the bio-diversity alarmists will seem equally ridiculous. World population will probably stabilise at about 10 billion (at the current rate at which fertility rates are reducing) in the next 50 years or so. The challenges then will be the complete eradication of poverty and the biggest barrier may then be a shortage of “working” population.

By 2140 we will be close to 2.1 children per woman, studying longer (say till 27), working  for 45 years (till say 72) and living much longer – say 85 years (on average). Maybe less than 5% of 10 billion people will be living in poverty. Hunger and malnourishment will have almost disappeared. It may well be that it is the proportion of “working population”  which becomes the limiting factor in satisfactorily maintaining the young and the elderly.

But there will  still be no Malthusian resource crunch.


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