And I bet Mr. Townshend doesn’t either.
In a very interesting commentary in New Scientist, Fred Pearce discusses the general aging of the world’s population. According to Mr. Pearce, in 19 countries, the average life expectancy is now 80 years. “Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now. Meanwhile, women around the world have half as many children as their mothers. … The longevity revolution affects every country, every community and almost every household. It promises to restructure the economy, reshape the family, redefine politics and even rearrange the geopolitical order over the coming century. The revolution has two aspects. First, we are not producing babies like we used to. In just a generation, world fertility has halved to just 2.6 babies per woman. In most of Europe and much of East Asia, fertility is closer to one child per woman than two, way below long-term replacement levels. The notion that the populations of places such as Brazil and India will go on expanding looks misplaced: in fact, they could soon be contracting. Meanwhile, except in a handful of AIDS-ravaged countries in Africa, people are living longer everywhere.” Mr. Pearce goes on to discuss the impact on tax base, retirement, health care and other issues. He makes very good points. I suggest you read the entire commentary at the New Scientist site.
This aging will require changes from Society, economy, government; all have developed assuming we age; we retire from active working life around a certain age. A key aspect of us retiring from active working life is making room for advancement of younger people up the working ladder, thus making room at the bottom for new people to enter working life. We have also created a system that allows the older generations to retire from active working life funded in large part by the efforts of the working younger population. This is a continued growth model that may well not work in the changing world. I have some co-workers who are very outspoken about their concerns that they will likely not be able retire at the age they had planned. They view this as a major disappointment in their lives. Not so long ago I considered retirement a natural part of the progression of a working life. But today I am not so sure. Sure I may retire from the job I am in today. But one aspect of the job I am in that I would not like to give up is that I have daily exposure to people in all age groups from eighteen years of age to mid-eighty years old. Whatever I do as I age, I think I must make sure that I maintain this contact.
As I close in on what was not so long ago the edge of old age, 60 years old at the next anniversary of my birth, I just don’t feel that old. This is in spite of having had multiple opportunities to not make it to this point and being alive only through the miracle of modern science and a few synthetic body parts and proper medication. Yet I can go through a five-minute cable weight routine that has been shown to put several thirty something bodybuilders flat on their backs. Well, on one of my really good days, I can. Even though my musical taste lean towards the classics; you know, Palestrina, Boccherini, Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Johnson, Waters, Wolf, Berry, Lennon, McCartney, Jagger, Richards, Clapton, Bruce, Paige, Plant, Gabriel, Stipe, Buck, Waters, Gilmore, Enya, … the classics; I am known to listen to all sorts of New Age, Celtic, Alternative, Bluegrass, Pop, Electro-Pop, just about anything except most country. There is little art I cannot find interest in, except pretentious stuff done just to gross somebody out. While I would not get one (or many) myself, I find a well-executed tattooed body very beautiful. My taste in design changes way to often for me to ever believe I could live my entire life with the same body art. I feel comfortable around people of just about any age. The exceptions are young people who refuse to accept older people just because they are older and older people who refuse to accept younger people just because they are younger. The day I choose to move into one of those age-restricted communities that do not allow people younger than a certain age to live in the community, that is the day you will know to pull my plug!
So the next time someone tells me to act me age I will; but it won’t be my calendar age. And I will do everything I can to make my physical state hold up until my mental age catches up to something close to 50% of my calendar age!
Is Still Here