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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Strategic CSR - Longevity

This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Fall semester.
Have a great holiday break and I will see you in the New Year!
The article in the url below presents a new take on longevity:
"There are Methuselahs among us. These aged wonders of the natural world do not stalk the earth but glide through Arctic waters. Scientists surveying Greenland sharks, previously thought to live up to 200 years, found that they have far longer lifespans. One specimen was calculated, give or take a century, to be nearly 400 years old, born more than a century before the US was founded."
It is believed that studying animals such as the Greenland shark can have implications for human lifespans:
"Anti-ageing enthusiasts insist that life is merely the absence of the processes that lead to death, and that human lifespan could be extended dramatically. Their philosophy is to treat ageing as a disease: treat the disease and life need not end."
Research in this area has already generated remarkable progress and altered our perceptions of the limits of human existence:
"After all, life expectancy has been rising for decades as we conquer the challenges – malnutrition, disease, war, mishap – that hasten our passing. Three centuries ago, a person would be hard pushed to reach 40; some scientists think those born today stand a fighting chance of reaching 150."
My reaction is to wonder what implications this has for the debate around climate change. Clearly, we do not have 150 years before we need to get serious about sustainability, but a growing awareness that we can live longer might influence the debate. At the moment, I am integrating concepts of time/history/the past into my research. One takeaway is the notion that human perceptions of time are defined largely by our own mortality. In other words, we think 80 years is a long period of time purely because that is our expected lifespan. In terms of the planet (about 4.5 billion years old), simple life forms (about 3.5 billion years), pre-human existence (about 6 million years), and modern humans (about 200,000 years), however, 80 years is barely a rounding error. But, 80 years is meaningful to us because we are sufficiently self-absorbed to think that we matter. In reality, of course, we do not matter much and life will continue perfectly well without us (as long as we can avoid destroying the planet). With that goal in mind, I wonder if the prospect of our children and grandchildren living much longer lives will affect their perspective on how long is a long time.
See you in the New Year.
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Centuries-old sharks hold the secret to a longer life
By Anjana Ahuja
August 15, 2016
Financial Times
Late Edition – Final